Synopsis (some spoilers): Frank happily volunteers to front the money for a beauty pageant and learns too late that (a) the pageant is for children and (b) his co-promoter is a diddler. The Gang decides to go through with the pageant anyway, after Charlie inspires them with a speech about how child pageants are quintessentially American. The rest of the episode is a fast-paced gagfest (in the best way) consisting of The Gang preparing children for the pageant, and the comically disastrous pageant itself. Dee takes a young wallflower under her wing and tries to help her win with a hilariously wrong song 'n dance about how mothers are a pain in the female anatomy. Charlie reprises his diva choreographer persona we all loved in "The Nightman Cometh." Dennis and Mac try to help a boy win the pageant by turning "Yankee Doodle Dandy" into something that would work at a rave. Frank spends most of the episode trying to convince everyone that he isn't a diddler, only to unintentionally reveal to the pageant audience that he's into something just/almost as bad.
This was probably the most hyped episode of the season, and I must say the hype was deserved. The humor was fast-paced and reveled in the just-plain-wrongness of the Gang having anything to do with small children. Most of the humor came from members of the gang being their frank, vulgar selves around children, and the toxic combination of a child-friendly environment and these beautiful miscreants. Whereas the past two episodes resorted to some arguably desperate stunts for the sake of edginess (Charlie puking blood being the low point), this episode relied entirely on excellent characterization for laughs. Everyone was in top form, especially Frank in his fervent attempts to convince everyone that he's not a diddler (which just made him seem like a diddler) while revealing unwholesome tidbits ("My wife was a bitch, but I stayed with her," "I met him at a titty bar!") and Dee in her quest to become the overbearing stage mother she always wanted, being especially vulgar around the children. Charlie got to sing and dance (and, of course, go into his diva mode). Mac and Dennis' "anything worth doing is worth overdoing" approach to life also got its moment in the sun. True to "Sunny" form, this episode revolved around the gang having perfectly good intentions and screwing up - to great comic effect - due to everyone's inability to function as members of a civil society.
Especially since the past two episodeswent to drastic extremes in order to shock the audience (puking blood,guest characters dying in grisly ways, the Under the Boardwalk scene that was still so funny that I have no beef with the show for scarring me for life), it's nice to see the show get back to basics and have the proceedings revolve around character-based humor. Sick, kickass character-based humor.
Judging by the past few episodes, I'd say that season 7 is going to be defined by having a faster pace than its predecessors. While some might lament any sort of change, I like what I'm seeing so far, on the whole. The trademark dark humor is getting darker if anything, which should work so long as thecharacterization remains on point, as it was inthis episode.