September 15, 2008
Characters, Schemes Shine in FX Comedy ‘Sunny”
By FRAZIER MOORE of The Associated Press
Your first experience with "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" is a little like when you had your first drink. You feel momentary breathlessness, maybe you cringe, you wonder can you finish what you've started.
Then it gets easier to stick with. You might even realize you like it.
That's the kick you can expect from FX's overproof comedy, which returns for its fourth season with back-to-back episodes Thursday at 9 p.m.
As usual, the action largely takes place at (appropriately) a rundown pub in Philadelphia co-managed with ineptitude by longtime chums Mac, Charlie and Dennis, as well as Dennis'sister, Sweet Dee, and their father, Frank.
There's something eternally conniving, self-absorbed and oblivious about each of these characters, who pursue the most outrageous schemes, never succeed and never learn.
Sure to be a highlight this season: They take up hunting - that is, hunting humans - and dabble in cannibalism. In a flashback to Colonial times, they crack the Liberty Bell. Meanwhile, they trade loopy banter such as: "We've ALL got cats we'd like to be playing with right now."
It's "Sunny" to the brim, starring Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson and Danny DeVito. (Caution: Don't operate heavy machinery after watching.)
Other shows to look out for:
-- Leonardo died young, just 3 or 4 years old. But he would be remembered, even down to his last meal's menu items (leaves).
A four-legged duck-billed dinosaur, Leonardo was discovered in his 20-foot-long splendor in the Montana badlands in 2000, about 77 million years after his life was cut short.
Now a Discovery Channel special, "Secrets of the Dinosaur Mummy," gets up-close-and-personal to profile this young Brachylophosaurus. Skin impressions and fossilized samples of the digested food still inside Leo's abdominal cavity, plus skin and joints, have allowed scientists to create the first reconstruction of a giant dinosaur, theoretically accurate both inside and out.
But that's just the beginning of what Leonardo can convey about a world long past. Better late than never. The documentary airs Sunday at 8 p.m.
-- Andrew McAuley had an obsession with adventure. It pushed him finally to embrace a challenge many people thought impossible: kayaking solo from Australia to New Zealand across 1,000 treacherous miles of the Tasman Sea.
Even the 39-year-old McAuley didn't fully comprehend why he was making the attempt, as he confided to the video camera mounted on his kayak shortly after embarking in January 2007.
"I've got a lot of people that want me back," he declared. "I've got a great family" - including wife Vicki and young son Finlay.
National Geographic Channel's "Solo: Lost at Sea" charts McAuley's defiant, doomed mission. It hears from comrades who helped him prepare for the journey, whatever their misgivings.
It includes his last words in a crackling radio transmission. And there are excerpts from his video footage, retrieved from his empty kayak 50 miles off the New Zealand coast a month after he had set off. His body was never found. But his widow insists, "He made it."
The documentary airs Monday at 9 p.m.
-- The seven sons of Rosa Pena, a migrant worker and single mother, were raised in the hardscrabble Texas border towns of Hidalgo County. She instilled in her sons a strong sense of family and ethnic pride.
But with Rosa's death, her grown sons were left adrift. Six years later, the film "Calavera Highway" finds brothers Carlos and Armando (who is the husband of filmmaker Renee Tajima-Pena and the film's narrator) departing on a quixotic road trip.
Its purpose: to return their mother's ashes to the Rio Grande Valley, and to reunite with their other siblings. But as the journey takes them across the American west and central Mexico, it reveals the complexity of Rosa's legacy for each of her sons.
An installment of the "P.O.V." series of independent documentaries, "Calavera Highway" airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings).
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