Television Recaps: The Office and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia
The Office: “Double Date”
Recap: For those who haven’t been watching (and yet are curiously still reading), Michael’s been dating Pam’s mom (guest star Linda Purl) and pressuring Pam and Jim for a double date. Pam, despite the overall creepiness of imagining her mother in bed with her boss, finally relents, and the four meet up for lunch on Pam’s mom’s birthday. As expected, Michael screws everything up, this time trying to weasel out of his relationship once he discovers that Pam’s mom is too old to conceive. After an awkward drive back, Michael, with equal weasel, attempts to patch things up with Pam by granting her any request. Her request: She gets to punch Michael. After work. In the parking lot. With her fist.
Meanwhile, Dwight buys bagels for the office in a lame attempt to make his coworkers indebted to him and even more to get Michael to fire Jim and promote himself. However, this leads to a debt/payback war with Andy, whose bizarre code of honor decrees that all favors must be returned immediately. So Dwight buys breakfast, Andy polishes Dwight’s suitcase; Dwight gets the door on the way out, Andy holds it; Dwight gives Andy a questionable tip on how tightening one’s buttocks makes walking easier on the knees…
Fans of the show will probably draw comparisons with the season four episode “Dinner Party,” which follows the same A plot but dropped the B to free up time for Jim, Pam, and the viewers to explore the strange and terrible life Michael led under the dictatorship of his live-in ex-girlfriend Jan (also his ex-boss…his fetishes tend toward mothers). But “Dinner Party” was a stand-out episode that found a lot of humor in Michael and Jan’s crumbling and destructive relationship. More importantly, it made its protagonist, Michael, sympathetic. “Double Date” does neither.
The major criticism I’ve had with this season is that Michael’s destructive antics have gone beyond the point where they can be forgiven because hey, he’s just naïve. So far Michael’s been not so much funny as an ignorant, self-centered jerk. Now I’m not bashing ignorant, self-centered jerks—I love Kenny Powers and the cast of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia—because they’re funny when they pick on equally ignorant, self-centered jerks—not sweet lovable people like the Halperts and the Beeslys.
In all, a pretty big disappointment—even the cold open was weak. Save for Stanley’s pumpernickel bagel.
(Originally 4/10, but Toby’s boxing lesson is worth at least a point.)
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
“Paddy’s Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens”
Week after week I’m in awe of how perfect a role Frank Reynolds is for Danny DeVito. My father, who hates Danny DeVito (“All he does is scream and wave his arms”) would agree. Whether he would find Frank funny or not, I don’t know—but I love Frank, because Danny DeVito takes him to so many horrible and depraved places that he becomes a one-man, compact version of Jackass, but also disheveled, sweaty, and armed. I love Frank, maybe even more than Charlie. Well…
And this episode isn’t hurting for great moments with either:
Frank trying to patent a large-breasted woman? Check
Charlie’s interpretation of “cat noises” (did I hear a T-Rex?) Check
Frank starring in a half-assed video sales pitch, which includes him staring wide-eyed into the camera, taking a shotgun blast of booze to the mouth, and announcing, “Awesome! I’m wasted!”? Check
Kitten mittons? Check
This week the gang’s get-rich-quick scheme is gear-hocking, with Charlie looking to trademark and sell his latest invention “Kitten Mittens,” feline booties designed to silence your cat (and keep them from eating gazelles), while Sweet Dee decides to capitalize on her exclusive rights to all Paddy’s merchandise. Or at least she would had Mac not eaten her contract.
Nevertheless, Frank thinks there’s money in it and offers up his idea to sell Paddy’s-themed hard-boiled, stress-relieving eggs and a booze-shooting pistol, an idea which is in turn stolen by Mac and Dennis, who add to that their own idea: The Dicktowel.
This leads all five to seek out the only legal representation they know: The oft-put-upon Lawyer (Brian Unger), who agrees to help them on the contingency that they never contact him again.
Add to that three well-endowed models to serve as spokes-breasts and the aforementioned video ad (which also features a callback to the titular scene in “Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire”), and you have an excellent episode in the can. Er, taped-over VHS cassette.
I’m surprised this episode was…well, an episode: “Kitten Mittens” was a wonderful viral campaign for the new season, but I thought it was a self-contained clip; I never expected it to be the basis for an entire episode. And since everyone who watches the show and a whole bunch of ones who don’t have seen it, you’d think living up to it would be some tough mittens to fill. Of course they do, because the people behind It’s Always Sunny are creative enough to have a lot more nonsense in reserve and wise enough to not dwell on any one thing.
(Maybe it should be 9/10, but the ending felt like crashing into a wall full of badgers…and not in a good way.)