Frank Reynolds, portrayed by the legendary Danny DeVito, is the television gift that keeps on giving.
It’s sometimes difficult to find this national treasure. New episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia are on FXX’s lineup, a channel most likely buried where Fox Soccer, FXX’s predecessor, resided deep in the premium sports channels where viewers rarely venture.
Yet a deep search into your nightly TV listings on a Wednesday night will reward you with a 71-year old, short and stout wealthy schemer with the enthusiasm and immaturity of a 22-year old as he leads (often off-script and behind the scenes) a group of four other staff from a remote Philadelphia bar, known as “the gang,” and their daily schemes to get rich quick.
It’s Always Sunny would have never made it to an 11th season with the addition of DeVito in the Season 2 premiere. The show, albeit a unique show format with its dark comedy plots, needed a spark in the form of an additional character. With Frank introduced, he added what always seems to be a needed story line twist mid-episode in a place where the plot would somewhat stagnate during Season 1.
Frank’s most amusing trait, at least to the television viewer watching at home, is his carefree approach toward life and disregard for failure’s consequences, no matter the severity.
Someone who would begin watching the show mid-season might not realize that Frank is rich from a time that predates the show. He never uses this money he has accumulated (unless otherwise needed to settle lawsuit after a failed scheme). He lives in low-income apartments where he shares a room with Charlie, one of the four members of the gang who may or may not be his biological son. He shows up whenever he pleases at Paddy’s Pub, the bar he co-owns after blackmailing Dennis and Dee, two more members of the gang who are also Frank’s legal children from a previous marriage.
“I know a guy”
Yet each episode Frank always chimes in with, “I know a guy” or always offering to bribe someone, “Grease him up,” to achieve a proposed scheme’s success. One of Frank’s best schemes gone haywire, per usual, was when he stole a riverboat tour during rush hour so he could beat traffic and see the premiere of the movie of the summer. Another was when he made a promotional video for Paddy’s Pub only to appear dressed as a doctor giving viewers a computer virus because he mixed up the definition of “viral” and “virus” videos.
DeVito, who starred as Penguin Man in the Michael Keaton “Batman” series, could have easily declined the opportunity to take part of It’s Always Sunny after already achieving a successful acting career in the 1990s. Yet a decade later he is still on-screen bringing the energy in one of, if not his best performances in his illustrious career.
It’s Always Sunny was renewed for a 12th season in 2017 in what could be its final season. Who would have imagined when Frank was introduced in Season 2 that a decade later he would still be such a key part to the show’s success in building a loyal cult following on an otherwise overlooked channel.
Long live Frank, the crazy old man always looking for the easy dollar, someone who made us laugh all these years.