I was watching "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis" the other night, and I laughed at virtually every single scene due to the rapid-fire jokes, brilliant writing, and assured performances. Then I watched "Being Frank" and wondered what went wrong over the years.
"Being Frank" follows well, Frank, as he goes about his day. He forgets names, never listens to who's talking to him, and winds up in the trunk of a car after interfering with a Pondarosa predicament. It's all very scattershot and mean-spirited, and none of it works.
While I can admit that the style of the episode is highly original and welcome, it didn't do the episode any favours, and did not end up saving it. "Being Frank" was filled with so much despicable behaviour and unfunny jokes that I was left questioning how this episode even made it to air. I notice that the main three writers (McElhenney, Howerton, and Day) are almost entirely absent this season in the writing department. McElhenney and Day co-wrote the season premiere, but the rest of the season is left to other veteran and newcomer-writers alike. This episode was penned by longtime contributor Scott Marder, but you certainly wouldn't think so. It's filled with so many misfires that it actually becomes insulting.
Frank is absolutely deplorable in this episode, and while I understand that the Sunny crew isn't exactly beacons of upstanding citizenry, there is a limit. This episode featured Frank watching his landlord choke to death while calling him an asshole, be a racist, upend a buffet table and steal a rug, and randomly pop a child's balloon for no discernible reason. The darker humour works for the show when it's in the service of the outlandish plot or its characters, but the mean-spirited attitude of this episode didn't land, and it seemed like a new writer feeling out the "edgy" humour of Sunny and writing as many mean things as he can for the character. It destroyed Frank, and it destroyed the episode.
Also bewildering is the personalization of Frank himself. Frank has never seemed like an idiot. In fact, he's easily the smartest member of the group, as he ran a successful business and often one-ups and outsmarts the gang in their shenanigans. Here, he's portrayed as a bumbling idiot, drifting off when others are talking to him, forgetting names, and just generally acting like a fool who is lost in the world. It's a blatant reversal of Frank's character, and only seemed to service what this particular story needed rather than uphold previously established personality traits.
Overall, a bewildering, tiring, exhausting, completely unfunny episode that couldn't be saved by its own originality. Seriously, bury this trash, forget it existed, and lets move on with this series.
Glenn, Charlie, Rob. I'm begging you. Come back to this show. It desperately needs you.
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