On September 18th, the Paddy's Pub gang returns to FX for Season Four of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dennis, Sweet Dee, Mac, Charlie, and Frank are all set to embark on a new series of misadventures that will see them tackling the raising price of gasoline, the American mortgage problem, the Health Care crisis, pedophilia, and the mystery of the Liberty Bell Crack. They will also be offering up The Nightman Cometh: A Musical. No topic is off limits, and no idea is too small in the hands of this exciting and very funny team of individuals. Created by and starring Rob McElhenney, Glenn Howerton, and Charlie Day, with co-stars Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito, the 2008 season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is shaping up to be one of its best, and it will surely please the huge hardcore fan base that this squawk box of comedians has accumulated at a rapid pace.
How did this happen? Well, in an upcoming season four episode entitled The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell, Dennis, Sweet Dee, Mac, and Charlie decide that Paddy's Pub should be included in Philadelphia's historic city walk tour. That way, historians interested in the city's past will have to stop in and get drunk along the way, stumbling as they check out real establishments of some historic significance. Though this dirty dive bar has absolutely no celebrated value whatsoever, the gang sets out to prove that their ancestors were responsible for cracking the Liberty Bell. As Rob McElhenney tells it, "We'd been wanting to do a flashback episode for a really long time. We just weren't sure how to get into it. We weren't sure what would be the most organic way. The story actually stemmed from us all going to Philly and taking a historical tour. We thought it would be interesting to try and make our bar a historical landmark. If we were part of the walking tour, people would have to come into the bar, and they would have to get drunk. We thought that might be a good way to do a flashback. This is the story of how Paddy's played a part in the American Revolution."
One of the scenes we watch the gang rehearse finds Dennis and Mac trying to rewrite the Declaration of Independence. As they pen their decree, which states that no man is ever really created equal, Deandra sneaks up and stabs Dennis in the arm with a dagger. She is trying to kill her slave master and free herself. But as Dennis points out, "If you kill me, you will then be owned by MacDonald. And he shall not be as forgiving, as he will demand copious amounts of bottom sex." Mac shakes his head in agreement, "Yup, right in the cockle shute!" From this line, McElhenney ad-libs various different ass sex references. When asked if he thinks, 'Ride the Pooper' will actually make it into the final cut of the episode, Rob shakes his head, "Maybe! We'll have to see. Poopeth Shute. I like that one." Kaitlin Olson, who plays Dee, doesn't like the sound of that particular saying, though, "That one doesn't make any sense. That is a verb. You have to put it in a noun's place." Turning away from Rob, she explains, "He isn't very smart. I have to help him out with a lot of this stuff." McElhenney trades one of his trademark dopey grins for the remark, "She does."
Deandra's fate is sealed when Rickety Cricket's distant ancestor arrives out of the blue to rescue her. He buys her from Dennis, and promises to whisk her away from all the madness. Too bad Franklin is a lousy shot. Played by Danny DeVito, Frank's distant relative accidentally shoots Cricket's doppelganger in the head with a musket, exploding the pulpy thing like a ripe melon. It's a moment we get to witness behind the production facility, where the Special EFX team has rigged a dummy's head with sticky red goo. Cricket has sort of become like the Wile E. Coyote character of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, but the gang is careful not to overuse his special presence, especially with an ever growing stable of reoccurring characters. McElhenney tells us, "I think he is only in two episodes this season. Maybe three. He is still a reoccurring character that is a lot of fun. I like that he was a young priest. In the second season, he was an upstanding member of society. Over the course of the last three seasons, he has gotten more and more destroyed by these people. Just coming in contact with them has ruined his life. But there has to be a masochistic nature in him, too. That he keeps seeking out these people. I guess we do sort of pull him in. He does end up being the butt of a lot of our jokes."
Most of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is shot in blocks. The first six episodes are already in the can. The last seven episodes will be finished shooting in another week's time. The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell is certainly one of the craziest adventures that the Paddy's Pub gang gets involved in this year. But don't worry, they haven't run out of big, controversial topics to explore. Not yet, anyway. Charlie Day doesn't think that they ever will, either, "One of the things I've always heard is, "What are these guys going to do when they run out of big topics?" I don't want to say that we have run out of them. Life is always making new ones up. And we are shinning a mirror on those things as they happen. This year we went after what is going on with the gas crisis in America. And what is going on with the mortgage crisis. I don't think we are every going to run out of taboo subjects. Something is always popping up in real life."
Probably the most anticipated episode, for both the gang and the fans, is The Nightman Cometh: A Musical. They have essentially taken the very popular Nightman song from last season and given it its own stage production. Rob wants you to know, "We are going to beat this thing into the ground. Every character is getting involved. I'm the Nightman, bro!" Kaitlin agrees, "We are going to take it way too far. Until people stop honoring us with doing that song. So many bands have already done a cover." What about Danny DeVito and his devotion to the Ipecac Record Label? Did he get any of his musician friends involved? Howerton says that Danny has been pushing to get Mike Patton on the show in some capacity for awhile, "I know that Patton was willing to do it at one point. I don't know if that is still the case. We haven't got anything for him at this point. But I do want to have him on the show. I am a big fan of his." They did nail down one musician for a cameo in season four, though, as Rob explains, "We do have Rob Thomas on the show. He teams up with Sinbad the comedian. I run into them in a rehab facility. They have ruined their lives with drugs and alcohol. And Sinbad has made Rob Thomas his bitch in the rehab center. And he has now set out to make me his bitch."
With things being so jumbled up, it's hard to keep Danny DeVito around for the entire season's worth of shooting. But the gang is quick to accommodate his presence. Charlie believes that this fourth season contains some of the best material he has ever seen Danny DeVito perform, "He was great this year. Audiences will be really pleased to see some of the acting he has done. As writers, more than any other year, we just had a lot of fun with his character. I personally feel that it is some of Danny's best acting ever. Some of the stuff he has done on the show this year is outrageously funny. I was a big Taxi fan. And I love a lot of his movies. But I think we passed a lot of those things. Maybe that's just my own sense of humor. I think the fans will get a real kick out of Danny this year. I think we've really figured out a way to his strengths. One of my favorite scenes is where he and Dennis go to a swingers' party. And Danny is saying how these guys are an elite swingers' society. The audience will be expecting something out of Eyes Wide Shut. It turns out to be a bunch of sad old people around a buffet. Danny is just great in that scene."
As you can see, there is a lot of great stuff coming up on this season's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Be sure to catch the gang when they return to FX on September 18th. They will definitely be waiting for you.