It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S11E01 Recap: 'CharDee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo' [Season Premiere]

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia always tends to sneak up on us, especially since they started airing on FXX and in January. But in tonight's premiere, "CharDee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo", the moment Frank starts raising his 4-F swastika flag, I knew we were back in business, and quickly remembered how much I love this show, and how perfect it is to inaugurate season 11 with another round of everyone's favorite Game of Games.

It actually felt like somewhat of an odd choice to start the season off with an episode based on a gag from seasons' past, but no IASIP is really meant to feel any more or less special than the last. We're talking about a show that's consistently proven over the course of a decade that it is and forever will be one of the funniest things on television, but part of that is general consistency, at least in terms of its characters and where they find themselves. The lives of The Gang will forever remain stagnant, but the quality of the episodes has really been rising for several seasons now. Doing another Chardee MacDennis at this point simply reaffirms that it's like The Gang never left.

That being said, it would have been hard to best the previous iteration, back from all the way in season 7, as it's easily a top 10 episode in the show's history. In fact the title of the episode, specifically references that idea, as "Electric Boogaloo" is usually a term tacked on to the title of a sequel derisively to signify its lack of quality. What the show is telling us is that they don't expect this to even come close to the original. And having rewatched CharDee MacDennis 1 in preparation for the premiere, that may be the case, but I can say one thing for certain; IASIP is and has always been about Escalation, and if nothing else, CharDee MacDennis 2 definitely raises the stakes.

The episode catches us up with an excited Gang as they inform Frank that an executive from Mattel (played by Andy Buckley) has shown interest in their game, and they plan on presenting it to him with hopes of selling it. They're reticent upon his request to actually play it, however, based on how competitive it tends to make them, but they all agree to keep that competitiveness in check for the sake of the pitch. What follows is the usual array of nonsense, with some added twists like accents and wine IV drips, only that it turns out, as we should have guessed, that the executive is not what he appears to be. Instead, he was hired by Frank so that he could finally wrestle the win away from Dennis and Dee. Unfortunately for him, his buddy slips up when Frank Cosby's the Gang and handcuffs them up Saw style in the basement and tells them the key to their cuffs is buried underneath their skin, and they have to get it out with an electrified scalpel, like Operation.

The fake executive's departure means the game is back on, so for level 3, Dee and Dennis get The Waitress to emotionally berate Charlie, who passes out from blood loss. He thinks he won, but Dennis and Dee inform him that he instantly started weeping as they once again triumph.

There are some legitimate laugh out loud moments in the episode, like Frank's swastika flag (which follows his assertion that Kick The Jew was one of his favorite games growing up), or that Bill Cosby is the Philly celebrity they would most like to have a drink with, but let's be honest. As funny as this was, and as good as it was to have The Gang back, there's no way this was going to measure up the season 7 episode it had to follow. Which makes the decision to open the season with it all the more questionable. Of course, not everyone is going to watch the first one in preparation, or even remember it, but I don't know if that even helps.

Instead, the episode feels like a misguided caveat suggesting this season won't be as good. Maybe it's trying to get us to manage our expectations. After all, the mere suggestion of a CharDee MacDennis sequel is exciting on its very own. It also serves as a reminder that, a whopping eleven seasons in, IASIP is a show firmly ingrained in its own mythology, despite the fact that things for these characters never really seem to otherwise change. As you'll see in the notes and quotes below, the episode had plenty of callbacks to previous gags. The episode itself is one, after all. While I maintain that any individual episode can be enjoyed without prior knowledge, the truth is that we're pretty far deep in all of that.

In any case, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia is back, and the show instantly reminds you that it is, and that's a good feeling. "CharDee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo" gets 8.5 offensive accents out of 10.

Notes & Quotes:

  • So what's the better fictional sitcom adult drinking board game? CharDee MacDennis or True American from New Girl?
  • You gotta love how the show paints Dennis and Mac. Tasked with molding the concept of love out of clay, Mac's interpretation is a veiny penis (which he claims to be Cupid's arrow whistling through the wind) while Dennis sculpts a frighteningly fashions a detailed sculpture of a woman's severed head in a freezer to represent the preservation of love. I fully welcome the continued evolution of Mac's fluid sexuality and Dennis' dangerous sociopathy.
  • As mentioned, lots of references to seasons past, including: "Dee you goddamn bitch", Bird Law, Dee being terrible at accents, Wolf Cola, Charlie needing subtitles, parts of the Fight Milk commercial appearing in their Mattel pitch, Donkey Brain, and the Waitress' hatred of Charlie.
  • "Those aren't ideas so much as they are random acts of violence."
  • "What other games do you like?" "It's like those other games too, but more better!"
  • "Regular board games should be called... I'm bored... games."