Season 4: Yet another inventively wrong and hilarious season
It seems a million years since I watched season 1 of this show even though it cannot have been more than 8 months ago now. The reason for this is not the time that has passed but more how far my opinion of the show has come since a first season that was fresh and funny even if the rather loose feel to it translated into it not being as funny or as sharp as one would have liked. That all changed with season 2 as the show became this tight, sharp beast while still retaining the appearance and air of a loose, rambling, messy comedy. This combination worked very well indeed and produced a very funny season indeed and it is a standard that it has maintained since then, including season 4.
As before the plots are an inventive mess where several threads run at the same time in each episode. All of them are convoluted to the point that they sound as absurd as they are if you try and explain them to anyone but they can all be understood if you simply explain that all the characters have had their moral centres removed to make more room for the selfish ego part of their brains. It is hard to explain how funny it is but the scripts are full of laughs and this is the third season where I spend more time laughing than I do not. The amoral characters allow the plots to be extreme but yet also make perfect sense in terms of the internal logic of the show - a show where it is hilarious and makes sense that two of the characters eat cat food and snort glue at night in order to be able to sleep through the noise of a thousand cats howling outside their window at night.
Season 4 is not perfect though and, like the previous seasons there are a few minor things that don't work as well. Unlike season 3, it is not a specific thing but rather just a matter of some of the threads not being particularly good in a handful of the episodes. Specifically I didn't think that the "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" bit with Frank offered anything special, while Dennis in rehab with Sinbad was a funnier as an idea than it was in reality. The Liberty Bell episode was a nice change of setting but wasn't as good as I had hoped either (with the gore being unnecessary as well). The fact that I can list a few specific threads in a few specific episodes should be enough to tell you that the vast majority works very well indeed.
The cast continue to nail the material and their delivery is as good as the writing. Kelly and De Vito continue to get the biggest laughs from me but Howerton, McElhenney and Olson are equally as good. The supporting cast are good but the lead five are where the show is strongest and they are very funny indeed, seemingly without any ego (De Vito included) but with everyone totally on the same page and committed to making it work.
I have no idea why this season has yet to show up in the UK or why FX-UK appeared to just drop the show a few seasons ago, but for me it is good enough to get on import as I know for every 20 minute episode I'll be laughing out loud for 15 of them and chuckling for another 3 or 4.
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