This week, "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" comes about as close as it ever will to producing a "Cable in the Classroom" lesson. Hopefully, everyone involved with "Toddlers and Tiaras" and idiot stage moms everywhere were paying attention to "Frank Reynolds' Little Beauties," because there will be a test later.
As I've mentioned in my previous recaps, the action so far on this season of Sunny has been frenzied. The first two episodes split the gang into groups of three, causing a LOT of story to get jammed into a mere half hour show. (Not that the rapid-fire hilarity hasn't been fun, but mama needed a nap after watching those eps.) This week, however, the gang bands together to achieve one lofty goal: put on the best little kiddie pageant Philadelphia has ever seen.
When Frank invests in a child pageant, only to discover that his partner is a pedophile (who knew you shouldn't go into business with guys you meet at titty bars?), he enlists the gang to help him "legitimize" the production. In his rush to the bar, Frank falls on his face, breaking his nose and meeting this season's blood spillage quota.
Initially, the gang is disgusted by the idea of a kiddie pageant, save for Dee and Charlie. To everyone's disbelief, it so happens that Dee did pageants when she was young ("She was a dog back then, too"), and she's looking forward to grooming a new generation of future bulimics. As for Charlie, well, we all know that no one loves America more than he does. And, in an inspirational speech, Charlie explains, "Child pageantry is an essential of the American fabric. You know what? We should dress up our kids...just to show other people that we can."
Filled with patriotism, Dennis and Mac get on board and get right to work helping Charlie write a pageant theme song. Frank's song ideas, all which not-so-subtly clarify that he's not into diddling kids, are all shot down by Mac, who explains that, "There is no quicker way to make people think you're diddling kids than writing a song about it." And on hand to make sure there is no diddling is a guy named Walter, from the Family Association for the Protection of Children. It's pretty apparent to the viewer that Walter is a big-time kid-diddler, but the gang remains oblivious as always.
Charlie assumes the role of abusive stage director until Dee points out that the contestants' parents are even worse people than they are ("Those mothers just left their kids here in a bar with complete strangers and a pageant that's under investigation"), prompting the gang to take the kids under their collective wing for what passes in their minds for nurturing. Charlie, Mac and Dennis latch on to the lone boy among the pageant contestants and work on jazzing up his act. When Dee tries to offer some tips to the heavily favored Samantha, she's quickly rebuffed ("You're not like me - you're ugly"). Dee subsequently sets her sights on Samantha's sister Justine, an uninterested kid who just wants to do her homework. But like any good stage mom, Dee doesn't care what the kid wants. So after saying "a lot of bad words," Dee whips up a song and dance number for herself and Justine that will hopefully snag her the win and shove-it-in-their-faces rights.
Frank arrives for emcee duty looking like he's "at his own wake," which is fitting, considering that he just had his makeup done at the funeral home. ("That's where you go to get gruesome repairs.") Although Frank is a terrifying host, Charlie's opening musical number (backed by Mac, Dennis and Dee in matching turtleneck/jeans ensembles) is MAGICAL. But if you thought the magic was going to end there, you'd be dead wrong. Dee's song, "Moms Are Stupid," probably steals the show, although the boy contestant's glittery, techno version of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" (featuring the guys as a low-rent version of Devo) is pretty damn amazing as well.
Things go downhill quickly when Frank accidentally turns on his mic during a backstage conversation with his new mortician friend. If there's one thing that skeeves people out more than pedophilia, it's necrophilia, and the audience hears more than they ever wanted to know about Frank's stance on dead bodies. ("Dead body's like a piece of trash. I mean, shove as much shit in there as you want. Fill me up with cream...")
The pageant finally comes to an end when the cops (predictably) show up to arrest Walter, the Diddler. But of course, even with a pedo in their midst, the stage parents still only care about one thing, voiced by one random mom: "Who won?" No one cares, but Dennis throws on his judge hat one last time to name Samantha the winner. It makes sense. "She's the prettiest, right?"
• Clearly, the writers had some fun throwing in some "Batman Returns" references for Danny Devito. From the nose "gushing blood" to the makeup that made him look like The Penguin to the crowd overhearing him saying terrible things, it was all pretty subtle but couldn't possibly have been unintentional. And what about the guy they arrested at the end? The DIDDLER? OK, so different villain, different movie, but still. Same universe.
• I loved how the guys just responded to Dee's outrage over the kids' parents abandoning them in the bar with laughter.
• Mac now wheezes when he eats. Time for a "Biggest Loser" cross-over?
• Just when you think things can't get any creepier, Dennis draws a fake six-pack on a little boy's stomach.
• So many great quotes. Wow. SO MANY. I've mentioned a lot of them already, but there are more to come. And most of them belong to Dee, who really stole the episode.
Frank: "Do I look suspicious?"
Dee: "You look grotesque."
Dee: "His face is busted to bits."
Charlie: "I see amateurs. I see trash. Little pieces of trash on my stage."
Charlie: "Samantha gets to be mean. Because Samantha is a star."
Dee: "I don't like your hair. It's dumb."
Samantha: "Your hair looks like it's dead."
Dee: "All right, that's it! You listen to me. All hair is technically dead, you stupid idiot smarty-pants, stupid, stupid idiot!"
Justine: "Yeah...I really need to do my homework."
Dee: "Ooh, I know but I'm the adult and I said we were gonna talk, so that's what's gonna happen."
Dee: "Your mom doesn't know dick. She's a dumb fat cow, and your sister...she is a stupid little shit-mouth bitch, isn't she?"
Dee (singing): "...a big humongous pain in my vaaaaagina!"
Intro to "Yankee Doodle Dandy": "People of Earth. Prepare for the future of patriotism!"
Mac (perfectly explaining pageant moms' anger towards pedos): "It's like throwing a picnic at the beach and getting pissed when the seagulls show up."