SRP $29.99 1.78:1 DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 FOX

The often disturbing, raunchy, but often witty and hilarious tv series, "IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA" has had this year's "CHRISTMAS SPECIAL" made available on blu-ray and dvd.  While the series is the kind of crude comedy, making it less than ideal for viewers turned off by sick(but witty)humor, this extended(twice the length of a typical episode)offering does a fine job in capturing the individual characters' personalities, and even some back-story. But, more importantly, it's self-contained. With Christmas approaching, Dee and Dennis are reminded of the horrors their father, Frank(Danny DeVito), used to heave onto them every Christmas morning. They're haunted by memories, revealed in a hilarious flashback of Frank getting the kids excited, as they see plenty of big, beautifully wrapped Christmas presents from him to them by the tree. Only upon opening them, they find the boxes are completely empty, and Frank is delighted at their horrified reactions, as he practically falls over with laughter. Wanting to finally teach Frank a lesson, they decide to create a "CHRISTMAS CAROL" type of experience for Frank, contacting his former estranged business partner, hoping he'll be willing to want to join in their plan as a sort of Jacob Marley ghost figure.

While this is the central storyline, the other characters have their own hilarious scenarios to play out. And these are every bit as funny as the one with Frank. That is, until something involving a department store Santa, meant to represent the series' outlandish sense of humor, occurs.  It's actually with this Santa Clause sequence, at the episode's half-way mark, that the brilliance of what preceded it, comes to a halt. The next twenty minutes still manages to get some good laughs, but nothing like the first half of the episode.

Fans of the series will be happy to watch this, but it's questionable as to whether it's worth recommending, with a sales price only slightly less than many feature films on blu-ray. It's probably best to rent it first.

FOX has provided the correct 1.78:1 aspect ratio for this 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 blu-ray release.  The series has always had a bare-bones kind of look to it, grainy and, while not quite dull, never really vibrant. That look is carried over here, and liner notes, as well as an intro explain this presentation wasn't shot in HD, but has been upconverted for this blu-ray release.

The image doesn't look any different than the dvd presentation of the same episode for comparison. Both offer a decent image, but a fair share of artifacts, popping up throughout. Colors are comparable to the original cable airings.

FOX has provided a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix.  While offering notably better fidelity than the dolby digital mix found on the dvd counterpart, what's presented is mostly stereo. Some ambient effects pop up occasionally, but most of the mix is center channel focused. Bass is seldom utilized or impactful.

About 14 minutes of extras, made up of a sing-along, deleted scenes, and a behind-the-scenes featurette are offered in standard resolution.