One of the best things about It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is how much they can create out of so little. This has never been a high budget show. It’s seldom been a show that ventures outside of the handful of its established sets. And yet, those episodes, even the ones confined specifically within the walls of Paddy’s Pub, often wind up ranking among the show’s best.
The show has been on a helluva run in this thirteenth season, and a lot of that has to with this aforementioned efficacy. The last three episodes in particular have been incredible, starting with The Gang tackling the #MeToo movement, all within the confines of a hotel conference room, followed by an episode of classic shenanigans that ends as absurdly and as dark as we’ve ever seen on this show, and culminating with last week’s politics-infused bottle episode. The streak continued this week with “The Gang Does a Clip Episode”, another bottle episode, this time featuring clips from the show’s past before things get weird and meta and inspired by Inception. Like last week, outside of said clips and flashbacks, the action largely takes place within the confines of the bar. Hell, all five characters barely move from their seats, and the episode even comes in a little shorter than usual. And yet, remarkably, the show and the episode’s writers (Dannah Phirman and Danielle Schneider, the duo who also wrote the Wade Boggs reboot episode earlier this season) still find ways to cram it full of great jokes, unexpected twists and things we’ve never seen from the show before.
“That’s what you do when you start getting old. You start reliving the glory days because you can’t think of anything new to do.”
Those words are uttered by Dennis at some point in the episode, which features the gang sitting around reliving their memories while they wait for their phones to update to the newest version of the software, so they can go back to ignoring each other. It’s obviously meant as a self-referential dig, as IASIP is archaic as far as modern shows – especially sitcoms – are concerned. But nothing could be further from the truth about this episode, since it finds something new, something unique to do with a sitcom format that’s been around for ages.
The meta clip show has been done in and of itself. Community did it a couple of times and shows like How I Met Your Mother and New Girl even baked it into their formulas, but I don’t think I can remember a show that took actual clips from its past and changed them in order to do an Inception-style “what reality is this” bit. The way they peppered in fake clips with the real ones was great. The way reality started to change around them was hilarious; people are already talking about Frank with hair and creepily long legs, but Charlie peaking into his own memories is possibly the funniest thing I’ve seen on TV in a while. Not to mention the word-for-word Seinfeld “The Contest” recreation, complete with two Jerrys. And the best part is that it ends implying that the show going forward is ostensibly taking place within Charlie’s mind (although you could have said that about the show for the past few years, to be honest).
This feels like the kind of episode people will either love or hate. It’s both a little too meta and a little too confined, but I thought the show found brilliant ways to elevate the shortcomings of the bottle/clip episode in perfectly IASIP ways, with perfectly IASIP gags and jokes.
I truly have trouble wrapping my head around how It’s Always Sunny manages to stay this good and this consistent after so many years, no less how it’s managed to put out four bangers in a row. “The Gang Does A Clip Show” gets 9.5 software updates out of 10.
The Best Lines from S13E07 of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia:
- Goddamnit Count: I didn’t hear any this week! That said there were a bunch of uncensored “fucks” (and a censored R-word, curiously enough).
- I won’t throw in any lines from the clips but my favourite is probably a tie between Wildcard/the Implication.
- Frank: “Do you remember when I sowed myself into the couch naked?”
- Charlie: “The way you tell that is like I was there, and I was not there.”
- Frank on Dee’s accents: “You’re remembering the time you burned a Mexican’s house down.”
- Dennis on Dee’s accents: “We decided that isn’t funny anymore, as a society.”
- Dee: “Yeah, what was that, I am not an ostrich.”
- Mac/Frank: “Wait, you went to North Dakota?” “I don’t remember Dennis leaving.”
- Charlie: “Now I’m getting confused because I was remembering the time I spoke Chinese. They gave me a magic pill and now I speak it fluently.”
- Frank on Seinfeld: “So Jewish.”
- Doctor/Dee/Doctor: “Your penises have suffered severe abrasions. The skin has been all but been removed from the organs. I’ve never seen anything like it.” “And my vagina?” “I’m afraid it’s been obliterated.”
- Dennis: “For Christ’s sakes we can’t even sit around having memories without things getting out of hand.”
- Dennis/Frank: “Frank, are you tall and handsome with a full head of hair?” “I’d like to think so, but no.”
- Charlie: “Dennis, everyone knows that the most annoying person in the world is Mac. So why would you want to live with him?”
- Dennis: “I love having a roommate who spends three hours a day on a dildo bike.”