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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Why I like Earl

Since the cancellation of all my favorite television shows (Roswell, Buffy, Angel, Carnivale, Dead Like Me and recently, Six Feet Under), my limited primetime viewing has become a wasteland of vapid reality shows and even more vapid sitcoms (I'm eagerly awaiting another Everyone Loves Raymond to come along b/c at least this show was funny). Outside of Charmed (which seems to be winding down) and the Home and Garden channel, I zone out much of the time the TV is on (I have it on basically for the background noise).

I don't know the mindpan of the average television writer, but from what I have seen in the last decade or so, I assumed that they didn't have an original corpuscle in their bodies. If something came along that was remotely a hit, you could bet your bottom dollar that the other networks would soon have their own versions without much thought whether the shows were actually watchable.

And then My Name is Earl premiered a few weeks ago and a glimmer of hope beckoned at the horizon. So, I surmised, there is a writer with a shred of imagination (in this case, Greg Garcia whose resume includes Yes, Dear, but I don't hold that against him).

This show is funny and refreshingly original and now heads my paltry list of must-see TV. Jason Lee (who was unforgettable as a resentful member of an up-and-coming band in Almost Famous) plays the hapless protagonist - or anti-hero, if you will - whose rash of bad luck comes to a head when he is hit by a car after winning a $100,000 lottery and subsequently loses the ticket. While in the hospital, he catches the Carson Daly show, where he first hears the word "karma" and realizes that it is true: what goes around comes right back at cha.

So Earl determines to cleanse his karma by undoing all the wrongs he has done throughout his life, keeping a list of all of his sins, each one gleefully crossed off as he works his way through the list. As meritorious as his goal, making amends is not as easy as one would think. And all of his attempts have some hilarious fallouts.

Helping Earl in his quest for redemption are his dim-lightbulb of a brother Randy and Catalina, the sexy maid (Ethan Suplee and Nadine Valazquez, respectively) the brothers first encounter at the third-rate motel where they are presently holed up. Hampering Earl's efforts is Joy, Earl's vindictive ex-wife (played with trailer-trash zest by Jamie Pressly) and her clueless husband, Darnell, (Eddie Steeples) who happens to be black and is the father of Joy's second child, whom she tried unsuccessfully to pass off as Earl's. Although Darnell comes off as stereotypically stupid, he fits in well with the other equally dense characters.

Joy just can't accept the fact that Earl won the lottery after she divorced him, thus cutting her out of half the $100,000 and goes out of her way to try to steal the money from Earl - even if it means murder.

So far, the show has not disappointed and I am looking forward to seeing how it develops. My only pet peeve: it airs on Tuesdays opposite The Amazing Race, which is the only reality show worth watching. Oh well, I'll just have to toss a coin each Tuesday and see which way my luck falls.

Sharon Cullars Coffee Talk at 10/12/2005 08:08:00 AM Permanent Link     | | Home


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