It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia S12E05 Recap: 'Making Dennis Reynolds A Murderer'
With only ten episodes a season, and with the world and pop culture getting crazier and crazier, it seems as if a growing number of episodes of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia every season are, to one degree or another, a parody of current events. Along with and increasingly dense history of references and callbacks, it's doubtful that we'll ever again get a season of the show that's mostly The Gang doing regular stuff around the bar.
Quite frankly, I'm okay with that. When The Gang is doing a scheme in or around Paddy's, it's great, but after a dozen seasons, there's only so much more they can come up with, and yet so much to make fun of in the real world. With absolutely no limitations on where they're willing to go, that gives us episode like "The Gang Turns Black" in the season premiere, a pitch-perfect episode that had everything; callbacks, references, parody, and most importantly a point to make about things that are happening in the real world.
Now, just a few short episodes later, The Gang has done it again with "Making Dennis Reynolds A Murderer". As the title implies, this is a parody of the Netflix megahit Making A Murderer (with a little The Jinx thrown in there for good measure to make sure they tackle all aspects of the recent crime docuseries craze). It uses the mockumentary format to paint Dennis as Maureen Ponderosa's murderer, since it turns out that she died in an alley with a snapped neck a few months prior. The entire Gang gets interviewed, there's a detective and a voiceover, even a dramatization that Dee insists on doing herself, as the show puts the genre it's parodying through the ringer.
It may be about a year removed from the zeitgeist, and all the jokes may have been the most obvious things ever, but sometimes the obvious simply works. The episode goes through everything you expect a Sunny parody of crime documentaries would tackle. Dennis is the accused murderer, Frank is the Robert Durst-type, Charlie is Brandon Dassey. Frank burps, Charlie says "yeah" a lot and acts dumb, but hey man, it just works. The episode withholds the Charlie/Brendan Dassey thing just enough to where it's a nice surprise, and it's easily the best part of the episode, with Frank's brief attempt at escape while being recorded a close second.
It's capped by sort of a surprise ending. While the episode is mocking all aspects of these kind of docuseries, the conclusion gets sort of meta. Dennis isn't really a suspect in a case, Maureen died after falling off a roof pretending to be a cat. The documentary is the product of Mac and Charlie trying to bank on the success of these kind of documentaries, purposely leaving facts out in order to promote a mystery. It's a pretty cute way to wrap it all up, but to be honest part of me wonders if it's sort of lazy of the show to make it so that Mac and Charlie put all this work into preparing a pretty good-looking documentary. This a week after the return of fight milk, even.
Still, the joke lands, and I like the... implication that Dennis isn't actually a murderer. We all know he's capable of as much as the doc states it several times, we just know we didn't commit this one particular murder. Leaving no doubt on this one doesn't mean that Dennis isn't capable of something similar.
I'll be honest, as much as I wind up loving this episode, I was skeptical of it in the opening minutes. Too many parodies, too much time outside the bar and away from the usual hijinx could be a negative for IASIP. But this is a show at the top of its game, firing on all cylinders, and "Making Dennis Reynolds a Murderer" gives us exactly what we expect, and exactly what we want out of this kind of parody. For that, it gets 9 alibi dudes out fo 10.
Notes & Quotes:
- Goddamnit Count: 2
- Uncensored "Fuck" Count: 1. Yup! All the other FX shows get one these days it seems, why not Sunny too!
- One of my favourite little gags in this episode is how Dennis looks upset in almost every picture we see of him. The one with Mac where Mac looks perfectly happy is the best.
- Perd Hapley in this episode too, delivering the news!
- "You ever see a grown woman take a dump in a sandbox?"
- "Testing, testing. Syphilis, Syphilis."
- Dennis, explaining the first of the many crows he's killed: "No, that crow was injured and I was simply putting it out of its misery. While, yes, testing the tensile strength of a crow's neck."
- Mac doesn't buy that Fat Bastard and Austin Powers are both Mike Myers: "Multiple characters in the same movie? What is he a wizard?"
- "Supposedly Dennis didn't see Maureen that night, but remember.... Dennis was once Maureen's... wiiife! Very nice!"
- "Murder ia chips."