Sunday, December 6, 2009

Blu-ray Review: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: A Very Sunny Christmas

In 2005, T.V. audiences were introduced to the peculiar proprietors of a bar in Philadelphia. Twins Dee and Dennis Reynolds (played by Glenn Howerton and Kaitlin Olson) worked at the bar with their legal father Frank (played by Danny DeVito), Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day) and Mac (Rob McElhenney).  There was something strange about these people and their run-down Irish pub.  They never seemed to have any customers.  But viewers soon came to understand the reason behind this lack of clientele – all five of the bar’s owners were disruptive, unscrupulous, misfits.

            Every episode of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia features outrageous situations that develop as a result of this gang’s inconsiderate actions.  One day they’ll attempt to be the next big thing on YouTube.  The next day they’ll be “getting racist.”  On any given episode, one can find this lot of cretins doing something that’s just plain wrong.

This holiday season, you can watch the gang from Sunny spread the yuletide cheer in A Very Sunny Christmas, an exclusive, 43-minute episode placing the group in yet another outlandish sequence of events.  Frank would always buy the presents Dee and Dennis wanted for Christmas.  The only problem was that he would buy them for himself.  As a result, the two seek revenge on Frank.  They are going to show him the error of his ways, and their going to do it a la A Christmas Carol.

Charlie and Mac, on the other hand, always got presents and they always got plenty of them.  They couldn’t have been happier with their childhood Christmases.  But once they finally learn of the true sources of these “gifts,” the two set out to right the people they’ve wronged in holidays past.  Along the way, the audience bears witness to some messed up Xmas family traditions – traditions that provide notable insight into just how these five grew to be the bunch of anti-social screw-ups we’ve come to know and love.

Blu-ray is perfect for viewing this exclusive and its wonderfully blasphemous rendition of the children’s classic Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964).  With the AC-3 format you’ll feel like you’re actually at the North Pole with Sam the Snowman and his dentist-wannabe comrade Hermey.  By scene’s end, however, you’re going to be thanking Santa that you aren’t (I swear I may never look at stop motion animation the same way again.).  The 1080p HD visuals leave the viewer aghast as the gang commits act after unscrupulous act.  Not one shred of good will toward men is to be salvaged on this holy night.  However, it is the exclusive’s crisp-clear audio that’s most beneficial, as it easily catches the characters’ edgy, fast-paced dialogue.

Special features include deleted scenes between young Mac and young Charlie, a tripping Sunny sing-a-long, and a behind-the-scenes feature where the cast and crew talk about the filming of this most irreverent Christmas special.  This widescreen edition features DTS Surround Sound and an aspect ratio of 1.78:1.  Audio is in English and is presented in Dolby Digital, with subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.

Fred Savage has come a long way since his days playing Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years (1988-1993).  Sure, as producer/director of the outrageous hit series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, he may have acquired an approach to comedy that’s just a tad less wholesome.  He might have taken a step or two away from traditional family values.  Oh, who am I kidding?  The show is bawdy, vulgar, and perhaps bordering on psychotic.  It’s an absolute delight.

You can catch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Thursday nights at 10:00 ET on FX.  But if you’re looking to see a sociopathic twist on the year’s most celebrated holiday, then gather ’round the television for A Very Sunny Christmas.

Why Is Bad Sci-Fi So Good?

I don’t know just why.  Maybe it was decreed by the Gods when they created the heavens and the earth.  Maybe the reason has been lost with the ages, or lies somewhere between this world and the next.  Maybe Dean Cain knows the answer  (He is, after all, in just about every one of these films.).

Whatever the case may be, I have grown certain of this:  Bad Sci-Fi flicks rock!  I don’t care if it’s zombies, ghost ships, giant spiders, shape-shifting aberrations, or abominable snowmen.  I don’t care if its zombies on ghost ships fighting giant spiders while an abominable snowman steers the ship.  Bring ’em all on at once.  The more the merrier.

I mean, I’ve got my favorites just like anybody else.  But in the end, if it’s on the Sci-Fi Network, and if it’s a movie, I’m probably going to watch it.  Every single aspect of these movies calls to me, beckoning me to invest two hours in the lowest quality television one can conceive.

But just what is a bad Sci-Fi movie?  Well first, off you must have a wretched screenplay – a screenplay so bad that one cringes when it’s read.  Clich├ęs must cover and tarnish every page.

Second, you must have B-list actors.  Dean Cain and Luke Perry are often your go-to guys for this.  One wants a cast that appears to have just been picked up off the street and thrown in front of the camera.  Some A-list actors from the 80s and 90s are acceptable, but only if they need work, and only on occasion.

Third is CGI.  Now, this might be disputable, as a plethora of wonderfully awful B-movies have been made without the “advantage” of low-grade CGI.  But bad science fiction movies have come so far with this new technology and in order to get the true, modern B-movie experience it is required.

Lastly, and most importantly, you’ve got to have a train-wreck of a plot.  The aforementioned yeti-steered ghost ship battle would work just fine.  So long as it’s bad it will suffice.  Indeed, this is the litmus test for all bad Sci-Fi.  If it’s clear that no thought went into making it, then you know you’ve got a gem.