It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S10E04 Recap: 'Charlie Worl'
"Charlie Work", on top of being the name of tonight's episode, is one of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's longest running gag. It's the pejorative term given to everything The Gang dumps on Charlie so that they can sit around and hash up schemes. We know that Charlie is really the backbone of the group (along with being the Wildcard) because of this, but we don't often get to see a lot of what goes into his efforts.
This episode changes everything, as it's all about what Charlie does to keep Paddy's afloat against all odds. While the rest of The Gang will promptly ignore everything that goes into running a bar, Charlie actually cares and he makes it work. Case in point, we've known The Gang for over a decade and until now, a health inspection has never come up. You would think they would have been closed a dozen times over, but it's actually Charlie that gets them passed every time, going great lengths to ensure it.
To throw a wrench in the works, not only is the normal inspector no longer around, fired due to leniency, but the impromptu inspection falls right in the middle of one of The Gang's classic schemes, a bid to take advantage of a loophole in the Airmiles system by contaminating a bunch of steaks in exchange for a cash refund.
But none of that is going to deter Charlie, and it all comes together in a ludicrous, frantic, fast-paced seven minute tracking shot that follows Charlie as he both tries to contain the damage of The Gang's plan as well as steer the inspector properly through the bar.
I'm an absolute sucker for tracking shots. The sheer amount of work and organization that has to go into making them work amazes me, as does the fact that, at some point, a director probably reads a script and decides that a single, long take is the best way to go about a scene. It's so hard to pull off that directors don't even really try to unless they know they can and unless it fits perfectly with whatever the show or movie is trying to say.
For instance, it works in Birdman, the film the episode unintentionally spoofs thanks to a drum beat score and the fact that it's a comedy, because it's about a frantic play where everything goes wrong and it's filmed as such. It worked in True Detective,, the show the episode intentionally spoofs because it allowed us to live vicariously through Rust Cohle's experience.
Both of these things are on display in what IASIP pulls off here, relating Charlie work to us by having us live through it. The rest of The Gang may not appreciate it, but now we know.
Beyond the themes and the plot, it's actually a directorial masterpiece, one you wouldn't expect a show like this to be able to pull off, especially considering they use sets, and that the outside and inside of the bar, the basement and the alley, they're all in different places. But director Matt Shakman (a series regular) makes it work seamlessly, and it's a marvel to follow.
Of course, Sunny is still a comedy and still needs to be funny, and this episode very much is. Charlie easily figuring out the Gang's scheme from just a few chickens and a fake sign (probably because he's spent all his life with them), the multiple times everyone calls Dee a goddamn bitch, Frank systematically painting himself Heart of Darkness black, and how it all just winds up being a set up to a Dee pratfall, it's all wonderful and engrossing.
You probably shouldn't be surprised that, 10 seasons in, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia still has these kinds of episode left in the tank. It's a testament to how good it can be and proof of how much of a goddamn shame it is that they've never been rewarded for these kinds of efforts at the Emmys. Hopefully a tracking shot is what changes that.
"Charlie Work" gets 10 framed cat pictures out of 10.
Notes & Quotes:
- In a fair world, this episode is at the very least nominated for like 5 Emmys: best writing, best directing, best supporting actor (Charlie Day), best comedy, best everything.
- According to those links I posted in the review, the episode is explicitly a True Detective parody ("Alright, alright, alright"), but the fact that it comes off as a Birdman parody (it was filmed before Birdman came out) is kind of mind-boggling.
- Carmine's: A Place For Steaks is definitely the least suspicious restaurant name I've ever heard.
- I want to see more of The Gang's arbitration process for solving disputes.
- Charlie walking around with a backpack that has a framed picture of a cat in it is my everything.
- Unofficial Goddamn count: 7
- "I need you to take the Talk American sign down." "Are you sure? Maybe he's a racist too."
Line Of The Night:
"Dee you goddamn bitch."