I know plenty of ‘Sunny’ fans who deem the Season 4 episode ‘The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell’ to be one of the show’s all-time funniest, but for me, the Gang’s period piece is one of my least favorite episodes. ‘Sunny’ took another shot at the flashback formula last week with ‘Frank’s Brother’, and just like ‘Liberty Bell’, it doesn’t work for me.
One of the great things about ‘Sunny’ is the collective “gang.” Each member contributes side-splitting comedy to the series. While I absolutely love how gross and sleazy Frank has become over the years, this purely Frank-centric ’70s era episode lacks the charm and vile chemistry that the rest of the Gang brings to the table.
The episode opens with Frank fighting a stranger in Paddy’s. It turns out that the other guy is Frank’s estranged brother Gino (Jon Polito). Something got between the two in the past and they’ve never been able to get over it, so Frank sits the Gang down for story time.
Playing the 19-year-old Frank is Danny DeBito with a shaggy wig. The funniest part about this gag is how everyone keeps referring to how young he looks, when really it’s just the same old Frank.
Gino gets Frank a job at an all-black jazz club, where Frank falls in love with a talented young black singer named Shadynasty. (In writing, her name is confused for “shady nasty,” but it’s pronounced “shuh-dynasty.”) Frank steals Shadynasty away from the club and opens one of his own. This leads to a conflict with the first club owner (Lance Reddick from ‘Fringe’), a beat-down, a shooting, and Frank fleeing to Colombia to do quality control for his brother’s cocaine supplier. It’s there that Frank becomes the bald sinister man that we’ve come to know
Frank and his brother are torn apart by Shadynasty. In the present day, they rush to an airport like the finale to ‘Love Actually’ to meet her again and stop her from getting on a plane with her “true love,” who turns out to be the former club owner that they kept screwing over. When we meet the real Shadynasty, she’s nothing like the stories made her out to be. Mac says, “Whoa, everyone’s a lot fatter than I expected them to be.”
As they go to get on the plane, Shadynasty’s true love is arrested for being on the No-Fly List. Shadynasty is once again available, but after seeing her, Frank wants nothing to with her. “I’m being honest, she looked like shit… She did not age well at all.” This ‘Sunny’-style clichéd love story ends with everyone leaving the girl alone at the gate.
‘Frank’s Brother’ isn’t a terrible episode, but it’s far from being at the top of the canon. After all, what is ‘Sunny’ without the Gang? Here’s hoping that this week’s new episode is better!