“Comedy Night Done Right” – Who can argue with that?

March 2, 2007

Great article today on NBC’s Thursday night comedy block, the best 2 hours of comedy on TV.  I write here enough about the shows individually but it’s good to look at the block collectively and recognize that this is unique to TV today where sitcoms either have disappeared, completely suck or are the same-old, same old with the same laughs, jokes and stock characters that have been on for years.

None of those criticisms apply to this block of Earl, The Office, Scrubs and 30 Rock made more remarkable for airing on the biggest ad night against the biggest hits on TV and largely crushing the competition week after week where it counts most – the quality of the shows.

My Name is Earl – Season 2, Episode 10 – South of the Border Part Uno, Dos

December 11, 2006

I haven’t written much about My Name is Earl this season even though I do watch it every week.  It’s not that I don’t find the show entertaining because I do enjoy it while watching.  However, more often than not I find the show forgettable especially following the increasingly brilliant The Office.

This week with no episode of The Office and a special 1 hour episode, I thought it was time to put down my thoughts on Earl.  We started this episode with a recap of last week when Catalina got stopped by the police driving Earl’s car and was deported just as Randy was going to confess his feelings to her.  From here the show followed two storylines, Earl and Randy heading to somewhere in Latin America to bring back Catalina and Darnell coping with Joy’s new drug induced happy personality while living next to the trailer couple from hell.

I’m not sure if it’s intentional or not but the writer’s have made Earl much less likable this year.  His initial unwillingness to help his brother seems to be inconsistent with last season’s Earl but he does come around as the episode progresses.  Along the way we get lots of funny moments.  It was hard not to laugh at Earl and Randy’s first airplane ride as they throw their shoes over the security check to show the shoes aren’t going to explode, question the flight attendant during the safety briefing and negotiate with their neighbours which emergency exit they are going to use.  John Leguizamo shows up to kidnap Earl until they make the connection that he’s Catalina’s uncle.  He was his usual classic character actor self as Earl teaches him about karma and how to be a nicer kidnapper.

Earl gets forced into marrying Catalina until he throws the 3 tests which involve leeches, hot coals and rakes, a gag clearly inspired by the classic Cape Fear Simpsons episode.  Of course, Randy steps in to save the day and marries his love.

The Joy/ Darnell storyline was also tremendously funny.  As much as Joy takes pride in herself as either a bitch (she has a t-shirt and everything) or in this week’s episode a happy person, we get reminded this week again one of the reasons why she’s a sympathetic character.  She loves her kids and protects them above all else.  When she threatens her neighbours while at the same time smiling with the scariest smile I’ve ever seen we see why this is the role of Jamie Pressley’s life.

The thing this show does really well is the running gag.  This week referenced Randy’s heartbreak song Time After Time (in Spanish of course), Catalina’s jumping as demonstrated by John Leguizamo, and the Spanish Earl and Randy who have a list very similar to Earl’s but with a bizarro twist (like the friend’s mother they have to force to smoke until she dies compared to Earl’s friend’s mother during season 1 who he has to force to quit smoking).

Bottom line is this was a great episode and I hope the show keeps up this quality as the season progresses.

Avi’s Episode Rating: A-

My Name is Earl – Season 2, Episode 1

September 22, 2006

I love Joy. Jamie Pressly has really done an amazing thing with this part and she was robbed at the Emmys. Who else could channel Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer at the same time, call The Federlines royalty, fight with a big box store over their return policy, move her living room outside her trailer, steal a van and the employee working inside it and pull a Terminator running after the van when the delivery guy attempts to get away. The answer is no one, especially in a 1/2 hour.

Avi’s rating – A-