Review: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - The DENNIS System
by Annie Wu, posted Nov 20th 2009 9:46AM
(S05E10) A weird thing has been happening this season, where I find myself really appreciating what the writers have been doing with the gang but I'm not laughing nearly as much as I should. This episode was a prime example of that. Dennis is notorious for his way with women, so hearing a full breakdown of the DENNIS System should have been a complete riot (a riot with cringing, sure). I smiled at certain parts and quietly enjoyed the scary-elaborate ways of Dennis and the rest of the gang, though ultimately, the laughs fell short. Perhaps things are feeling a little forced this season?
Trust in the douchiness of your characters and the chemistry of your actors, writers! The lines will come.
The all-too straightforward initial DENNIS System lesson, like a twisted mishmash of seduction community teachings and psychopathic phone-harassment, was beautifully executed ("Pizza's good..." "You're the one that's good"), and there is something startling and fantastic about Mac in glasses and a cardigan (Yes. More librarian attire on the Paddy's Pub boys, please). I think the actual explanation and illustrative sequence was funnier than the way the events eventually played out.
The horrible feeding chain naturally developed by the rest of the gang to swoop in and take Dennis' leftovers was also an inspired concept, with each level becoming less and less intricate. Ladies, don't deny how you would react if Danny Devito "accidentally" dropped a Mangum condom by your feet. It clearly means he has a "monster dong."
When the Waitress made her return in "The Waitress Is Getting Married" (still holding strong as the best of the season so far), we missed out on some of that classic Waitress/Charlie interaction. Not that they'll ever get together without some ridiculous deus ex machina or if Charlie starts bathing properly (probably also by deus ex machina) but if they were to do so, they should totally run a carnival together. It seems so right.
A surprise standout performance was delivered by Travis Schuldt as Ben, Dee's SoldierofFortune, putting on those stupid cut-offs again and making his second appearance on the show. He brings out the best horribleness in Dee. I'm wondering if he's the first completely good and well-intentioned character that has ever appeared on Always Sunny. Like, ever. Even Rickety Cricket revealed himself to have ulterior motives when he was a priest, the initially innocent lawyer guy exacted his revenge on the gang in the Kitten Mittons episode, and the seemingly vulnerable and eager Artemis turned out to be kind of crazy and a little too eager. Maybe Fatty Magoo came close, but Ben is simply niceness incarnate in one grinning, sweaty guy in a car.
Also, I damn near lost it at Ben's line "I like turtles." I think that may have been the first time I've ever heard someone reference that video in a sitcom. I believe I only laughed out loud at this moment and Dee's needlessly panicked physical reaction to the picnic. Yup.