|Episode no.||Season 10|
|Directed by||Matt Shakman|
|Written by||Charlie Day|
|Original air date||February 4, 2015|
"Charlie Work" is the fourth episode of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's tenth season. Featuring an uninterrupted seven minute long shot, the episode garnered critical acclaim from critics and fans and is considered one of the best episodes of Always Sunny. Contrary to popular belief, the episode is not a tribute to Birdman, but in fact, pays homage to HBO's True Detective.
Charlie gets tipped off that the health inspector is coming to do a surprise inspection of Paddy's Pub, alerting Frank and rushing back to the bar, only to discover the gang is in the midst of an ill-fated chicken and air mile steak scam.
Dennis is painting a sign for Carmine's: A Place for Steaks and Dee and Mac are attempting to wrangle chickens for the fraudulent scheme. Charlie deduces that the gang plans to contaminate steaks with chicken feathers by rubbing live chickens all over them. While the plan is underway, Frank reveals he flushed his shoes down the toilet.
Charlie begins barking orders to the gang, demanding they move all of the chickens into the back office. Charlie works on digging Frank's shoes out of the toilet and hides the glory hole in the men's bathroom. The bar suddenly loses power due to the vacuum sealer being used for the scam. Charlie tells Dennis to use the machine to package lemons and limes. Charlie and Dee go to the basement to test the carbon monoxide detector. To Dee's horror, it begins going off -- Charlie explains he blocks the vents to fill the basement with hazardous gases to clear out the rodents.
The steak delivery truck arrives and the gang learns that Dee has inadvertently ordered considerably more steaks than they had planned. Charlie has Dee pretend Paddy's Pub is a real restaurant, orders Mac and Dennis to remove the Carmine's sign and gets Frank to move the truck out of the way while the delivery man is distracted. Charlie leads the delivery man to the back alley under the conceit that it's patio seating.
When the health inspector arrives, Dennis poses as a bartender while Charlie confidently gives her a tour of the premises. Through a series of quick-thinking gambits, he's able to successfully pass off the bar as being in a clean and orderly condition. The rest of the gang was also able to successfully get the delivery driver to take back the chicken feather-filled steaks. Charlie is excited about getting a passing grade, but the rest of the gang reveals that they care more about the scheme than passing.
The episode was written by Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton and Rob McElhenney. Howerton said the production team was "pretty inspired" by the bravado of True Detective and found an episode that's served by the approach. The episode's similarity to Birdman with jazz score and continuous tracking shot was entirely coincidental. "We did it like Birdman, even though we didn't know about Birdman," director Matt Shakman observed.
The ten minute continuous long shot took a lot of preparation and technical effects to pull off. "It was a huge logistical challenge...It's a lot of visual effects to kind of merge things--the front of the pub is a location in downtown L.A., the interior is a set on stage at Fox and some of those sets don't even link up," Shakman explained. "So we had to come up with some trickery and we redesigned our sets so that certain things could be done in the flow."
"The sets on stage are only one level, so every time we go to the basement, there is a camera trick." Shakman noted. "Some are simple-where we pan past the brick wall and hide the cut or go through a pool of darkness-or where we are more ambitious and use green screen (coming back into the bar from the basement for instance was a blend of a shot that panned into a green screen with a shot of the keg room that continued the motion)," Shakman noted.
"The stage sets that are contiguous are the bathroom, main pub interior, back office, and keg room. The bathroom wasn't originally connected but we made it connect for this episode. For this episode we also built a partial back alley on stage. There's a back alley location in downtown L.A. that we usually go to. We used the real downtown location for when the delivery guy is first seated and Charlie sees DeVito running away. I wanted that to be the actual place so the audience wouldn't doubt the veracity when we used the stage set for later scenes: Charlie arguing with Dee about moving the dumpster and checking in with the inspector in the alley. Going from the interior bar set to the real alley required some green screen and a few camera tricks-going into a wall as Charlie passes, and then coming off the wall on location to reveal the real exterior alley, etc."
"Charlie Work" is considered to be one of the best Always Sunny episodes. As of September 27, 2017 the episode held an IMDB user rating of 9.8, the highest for the series.
"On a technical level, it's a marvel, as well as a creative look at the genuine odd jobs that Charlie does behind the scenes to protect his friends' livelihoods..." observed Rolling Stone's Noel Murray. Matt Fowler of IGN gave the episode a 10, saying "Charlie Work" "was one of the best episodes the show's ever produced. A fast, frantic laugh-fest featuring outstanding work from Charlie Day." Dennis Perkins of The A.V. Club also praised the episode, saying that "Charlie Day's ability to let Charlie's demons peep through his excitable dialogue is one of Sunny's chief assets, and Day's performance here is pure exhilaration as he wrangles: crates of chickens, 4000 steaks, a clogged toilet, a disabled carbon monoxide detector, a hungry and confused truck driver, a repeatedly blown fuse, a painted Frank blowing a recorder, Mac grunting and apologizing at just the right time, and two separate carjackings to make everything turn out all right."