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It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia: "The Aluminum Monster Vs. Fatty Magoo"/"The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation"

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At the heart of most conflict is vengeance and deception. Or is that just television comedy conflict? Whatever — the point is, you stick with what works. And when Dee decides to humiliate a former high school pariah classmate who turned out more successful than she did, the wheels of an entertaining half-hour have been set into motion.

All that remains is to bring the rest of the gang into it. Naturally, Charlie's sewing skills (or at least his ability to recognize a quality hem) will come into play. And Dee goads Dennis into proving that he hasn't "peaked" by designing a dress that will put Ingrid (aka "Fatty Magoo") to shame. Meanwhile Mac and Frank remodel the bar's backroom into a sweatshop.

I'm drawn more to Dennis than any other character on IASIP. There's something about his male-model sense of entitlement that hits my sweet spot, more so than the uppity trailer-trash vibe of the rest of the cast. And this is a Dennis-rich episode: casually clearing off Fatty's desk the better to demand an order, insulting the model wearing his silver lamé corset, apologetically inventing an order for 100 dresses rather than admit that he hasn't sold any.

The bonus episode is more of a group effort. Mac rallies the gang to prevent the Korean restaurant down the street from stealing the bar's thunder in the pub crawl. Their strategy involves boosting their skunk-brew-in-a-trashcan "microbrew," working on a Rosie Perez impression for the talent show, and wearing badass black dusters.

But "North Korea" makes me rethink my solo-Dennis bias, because it's bursting at the seams with the rapid-fire overlapping conversations that give the show its distinctive flavor. Specifically, the entire sequence where Dennis and Charlie try to break down the "Pirate" door in the Korean restaurant has that effortless combination of manic dialogue, assumed competence, and blithe second-guessing that built this city on rock and roll.

I'm into the randomness rather than the parodies — neither the elaborate Eastern European garment factory shtick nor the Kim Jong Il lookalike did anything for me — but I have to admit that the American Idol judging panel made me laugh because of the gradual reveal. Throw in Dennis swaggering around shirtless in a duster, and all is forgiven.

Grade: "Aluminum Monster" B-, "North Korea" B+

Stray observations:

- Too bad they couldn't have made a prototype of Dee's "raincoat with a straw in it" dress, too.

- How many thimbles do you really need while sewing? How about while using a sewing machine?

- Best lines tonight: Dee describes Mac's breath as "an old lady fart passing through an onion"; and Dennis mourns that "sadly, you can't press charges for the crime of ugliness."

- Hey FX! Since when can you advertise a showing of X-Men without mentioning Hugh Jackman? And by the way, my Hugh Jackman Countdown Calendar says that it's only three weeks until Viva Laughlin on CBS!

- We had to wait for the second episode to hear Charlie yell "Bull-SHIT!" Talk about saving the best for last.

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