It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

Season 7 Episode 5

Frank's Brother

7
Aired Wednesday 10:00 PM Oct 13, 2011 on FXX
AIRED:
7.0
out of 10
User Rating
78 votes
6

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

Frank's long-lost brother unexpectedly re-enters his life.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • One of the worst episodes of the whole series

    1.0
    This is almost like Danny DeVito's agent called and required a spotlight episode for Frank alone, and although Frank is an awesome character it just totally doesn't work out. There is no use of the Gang at all, and everything that's supposed to be ridiculous is just stupid. In my opinion the only episode to suck as much as this one is "Who Pooped The Bed", but this one definitely sucked worse.moreless
  • Decent concept, but it didn't feel like a "Sunny" episode in a way that previous "unorthodox" episodes did.

    6.0
    First thing's first: I love "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" for many, many reasons. One of them is that the show is always pushing multiple envelopes and experimenting with new and offbeat ideas and concepts. We've had musical episodes, episodes that take place during the 1700s, and now we have "Sunny's" first Epic episode. I'd be lying if I said I thought "Frank's Brother" was all that great an episode, but it must be said that the show's ambition (and FX's decision to let these guys do just about anything they want) is commendable.



    Here's what happens (some spoilers): Gino, Frank's long-lost brother, comes to Paddy's and immediately begins brawling with Frank. The rest of the episode explains why they're brawling via flashing back to the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and finally the present era, with "Goodfellas"-style narration from Frank and his brother. Basically, Frank began working at a nightclub where Gino was the bookie during the 1960s. There, Frank fell in love with Shedynasty, an African American female ("Negress," as he says) jazz singer who sang at that club. Frank subsequently bought a jazz club of his own and hired Shedynasty as its featured performer in an attempt to get closer to her; they subsequently began dating. Frank assaulted Shedynasty's former lover over a misunderstanding (actually the episode's funniest scene, IMO). Gino finds Frank a place to hide in Colombia. Frank returned to the USA years later to discover that Gino turned his jazz club into a sleazy disco, stole his girl and destroyed the love letters he wrote her. Flashing forward to the present, we discover that Gino believes that Frank has reconnected with Shedynasty. (Major spoiler): It turns out that Shedynasty's first lover (whom Frank assaulted years back), not Frank, is spiriting Shedynasty away from Gino. Gino and Frank decide that Shedynasty has become too fat for either of them, and everyone goes out to get drinks. It's important to note that during the flashbacks, our perception is supposed to be that of the Gang (e.g. we picture Frank and Gino as they currently look and everyone as being much younger and more attractive than they probably were).



    Again, I really admire the ambition behind the "Sunny" crew's decision to make an "Epic" episode. It's inspiring that there's one TV show currently being made that actually tries to do something other than pacify an increasingly miserable human population with the same predictable garbage that you find on just about every TV comedy. It's the seventh season and they're clearly swinging harder than ever before. This episode had its moments, most of them directly related to the episode's concept. The costumes and music selections were clever. The recurring racial jokes were usually the right combination of funny and offensive, especially the simple name Shedynasty. The sight of a tiny airplane traversing a 1970s map (to illustrate the fact that Frank is traveling in an airplane during the 1970s) was hilarious. Bottom line, there were some little moments that worked very well.



    On the other hand, this really didn't feel like a "Sunny" episode. The plot had promise, but Frank was the only character who did anything (other than ask "So what happened next?"-type questions), and his characterization felt off to me. First, he's depicted as being sincere and sympathetic, especially with respect to his commitment to Shedynasty. While it might explain why he became such an asshole afterwards, since when have "Sunny" characters been assholes for any compelling reason? I mean, I thought the guy was always a jerk for no good reason and that's why I liked him so much. Yes, I realize this episode employed the unreliable narrator device and of course Frank would embellish his erstwhile humanity, but it's rarely made clear when Frank is exaggerating his sympathetic traits, and he's basically the same guy in Gino's version of the story as well. By way of contrast, you knew "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell" was an absurd story being told by unreliable narrators because the writers played the device to great comic effect; here, you're left with the impression that the "history" being re-told actually happened (within the show's fictional universe, of course), except some of the characters may have been fatter than the Gang imagines they were. Second, the story and dialogue play out almost like an uneasy mix of soap opera and comedy rather than unfiltered subversive comedy. Yes, the costumes, mild racism and running joke about the black guy getting arrested were quintessential "Sunny," but it really felt like a latter-day "Simpsons" episode, e.g. the dialogue and characters seemed ripped straight out of another series' teleplay with a few touch-up lines/gags here and there to remind you that this is still the show you tuned in to see. Again, much of this had to do with Frank's characterization. Hearing his mournful cries of "Oh, Shedynasty!" seemed wrong, just wrong, when you consider that his defining feature up until now has been a total lack of mature feelings. I'm not saying the writing was abysmal - it wasn't - but most of it just seemed to belong in a different show. Also, none of the guest characters were given any dimension at all. I suppose Gino could become a recurring character like Bruce Mathis, the mothers or Cricket, but I don't really care to see him return - he lacked those stroke-of-genius quirks that define all the other recurring characters on this fantastic show. Finally - and this is just me being anal - Dee and Dennis were born during the disco era (before "I Love the Nightlife," which plays when Frank reconnects with Shedynasty, was released), at which point Frank was a carefree businessman married to Barbara, so this episode threw off the whole "Sunny" chronology a bit. I'm not saying it ruined the whole show (again, you can write most of the episode off, if you want, by reminding yourself that it made liberal use of the unreliable narrator/perceiver device), but you really have to stretch your imaginations to reconcile it with the rest of the "Sunny" canon. And even then, watching most of "Frank's Brother" feels like watching another show. Whereas previous unorthodox episodes ("Liberty Bell," "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" etc) succeeded because the humor, tone and characterization remained consistent and true to the "Sunny" style, those qualities were spotty at best in "Frank's Brother."



    Again, though, the concept was very clever and there were some good moments here and there. This has been a great season on the whole, and it's encouraging to see that they're still trying new ideas. While this one wasn't my favorite (and I await a number of thumbs down for saying that), "Sunny's" experimental episodes generally work out well, so here's hoping they continue making them.moreless
  • "Franks Brother"

    7.0
    Before i start this review id like to say that i love how none of these people under me reviewed an episode until the weakest episode of the season.

    I wasn't able to review the episode last week but i gave it an 9.0 it was a slight step down from episode 3 but it still was pretty classic.



    This episode is probably comparable with the gang cracks the liberty bell where the gang flashes back to something, oh wait it wasn't the gang it was just Frank this time. This is an example of why we need the entire gang or just Mac, Dennis, and Charlie for an episode to be great instead of them just chiming in on the story every few minutes. This episode wasn't completely bad though, but it definetly was a weak episode of the show in general and one of the worst in the series which we don't need right now. The thing that bothered me most about this episode was that i remember hearing an interview where the cast said when Danny Devito joined the show he didn't just make the whole thing about him, and in this episode the whole thing was about him which is kind of what the show could of turned into if he was like that.

    But despite this episode not featuring the full gang I did get a few laughs out of the show this week and that's good for something but I don't want to see another weak episode like this ever again. Is that asking too much?

    My Favourite part of this episode:

    Lance Reddick was excellent in this episode for the short time that he appeared which strangely was probably longer than the gang was in the episode.











    moreless
  • I don't like giving this show low marks, but this episode fails to use any of the series strengths. When the characters are horribly offensive, when they are terribly ignorant, or when they are being cruel to each other. A dull flashback episode.moreless

    4.0
    I don't like giving this show low marks, but this episode fails to use any of the series strengths. When the characters are horribly offensive, when they are terribly ignorant, or when they are being cruel to each other.

    This is just a dull flashback episode about Frank, where Frank does what everyone does in the 70's, drugs. :( Whoop Dee Dooo.

  • Frank's brother shows up at the bar

    5.0
    Okay, so the plus side to this episode is that we get a little bit of backstory when it comes to Frank. Frank is a character that has worked sporadically throughout the show. I think sometimes, the show doesn't know how to fit him in at all and other times, he's the perfect fit for the gang. However, this episode is a giant mess.

    The episode is story involving Frank and his brother in the 60's, 70's and onward. The whole idea is that both Frank and his brother fell in love with with the same woman, a singer named Shadynasty (that's SHAH-dynasty, not Shady-Nasty.. this is one of the funnier recurring gags in the episode). The story itself is alright... it's slightly insane at times and impossible to believe that Frank would actually be forced to move to Mexico and get addicted to coke over two or three years. The show has move further and further away from realism as of late, but this just felt ridiculous.

    The main problem with the episode is that the characters we love, the main gang, is missing from most of it. We have a fantastic cold open where Frank is eating hoagies like an animal, Dee and the rest of the group are arguing over the merits of cops using Uzi's for guns and then we get the introduction of the brother... it's a great introduction, and I would love it if we could see how the gang interacted with Frank's brother. But instead, we get a slightly dull tale with the occasional laugh which results in a hit or miss episode.

    Seriously, the show needs to understand that it works best when the gang as a whole is working together.moreless

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