Behold, our first joint post for NBC’s Thursday night comedy block, now with four separate shows!
My Name Is Earl 4.8 “Little Bad Voodoo Brother”
It’s Halloween, so Earl decides to take on list item #94: “Ruined Dodge and Earl Jr.’s Halloween.” The only way to make this up to his kids, Joy convinces him, is to throw a big Halloween bash at the trailer park for his children and all those townsfolk who were roped into doing a search party to find them years earlier. Earl is happy to abide, but then decides to rope in another list item: “Cost Randy a little brother.”
How would Earl have even done such a thing?
“Dad made mom get fixed after he caught Earl playing a game of ‘watch Randy in the washing machine.’ I swallowed a lot of bleach. That’s why I can’t taste salt.” — Randy
Trying to do the right thing, Earl brings Randy to the local chapter of Big Bros & Little Bros, but Randy fails to qualify in order to take care of a poor Little Bro. Earl tries to tell him otherwise, but Randy sees right through his façade.
“You’re talking in your high-pitched lying voice!” — Randy
Suddenly, Catalina has an idea for how Earl can cross this off his list: she has a cousin who had been shipped to America, one boy by the name of O-Scar (“like ‘Oscar’ but with an ‘O’”), and would be fine if Randy looked after him for a while in order to be a good male role model for the child.
Unfortunately, this tiny immigrant child doesn’t like being told what to do, and when Randy scolds him for stealing tips off the tables at the Crab Shack, O-Scar begins performing voodoo in order to curse and scare Randy and Earl. Earl isn’t scared at first…
“I’ve got a cousin with Tourette’s who’s religious. It’s very similar.”
…but then O-Scar pulls out his voodoo dolls and threatens to hurt them very badly. When Earl and Randy try to return the evil child to Catalina, she runs away not wanting to deal with this problem kid anymore, so the two must live in fear. They go to Darnell for help, and are surprised that he has already created fake passports for them.
“I was trained to think three steps ahead. I saw this coming back in December.” — Darnell
At the Halloween party, Joy discovers O-Scar’s evil little ways, and since a voodoo practitioner hexed her when she was a child (the hex? To become pregnant before she got married), she tries to take out the child. When all hell breaks loose at the party, Earl realizes that he has in fact given Randy a little brother, so he crosses it off his list. Karma intervenes (well, the way it does on this show) and it is revealed that O-Scar doesn’t really know voodoo but is simply very good at using the power of suggestion, and turns out to be not such a bad little kid.
Two items down this week, a few hundred to go. The show has finally reached a nice middle-ground stride. Not great by any means, but still incredibly watchable. Keep them coming, guys.
The Office 5.5 “Employee Transfer”
It’s Halloween — did I already say that — and Dunder Mifflin is packed to the gills with costumed employees. Andy is a character from Cats, Kelly is Carrie Bradshaw, Ryan is Gordon Gekko and Phyllis is Raggedy Anne. There was bound to be some people who dressed in the same costume, and this time it’s Dwight, Creed and Kevin all dressed as (what else?) the Joker. (And of the three, Creed, of course, is the creepiest and most accurate Joker.)
Unfortunately in New York, Pam finds out too late that nobody at her branch dresses up for Halloween, so she is left dressed as Charlie Chaplin, complete with a mustache made with greasepaint.
“And I can’t even take off my hat. Because then I’m Hitler.” — Pam
After Halloween, the show goes a lot darker — as this show tends to do — because at the end of the last episode, a Dunder Mifflin representative caught Michael and Holly making out, and due to company policy one of them has to either transfer to another branch or quit. (For the answer, look at the episode’s title.) Michael is sad to see Holly go, so he accompanies her on a road trip to her new house in New Hampshire, with Darryl driving the truck. While they do love each other, Holly breaks down during the truck ride because she knows that their relationship could never survive the long distance (a seven-hour drive) no matter how much they loved each other and how much Michael protests.
Holly: Michael, don’t make it harder than it has to be.
Michael: [Sadly, quietly] That’s what she said.
Upon arriving in New Hampshire, Michael has the option of staying with her for a bit, but defeated, he decides to just get back into the truck with Darryl and drive back to Scranton, literally singing the blues. (Well, Michael’s version of the blues.)
At the office, Dwight is intent on driving Andy crazy, so he pretends that he is interested in matriculating at Cornell, Andy’s alma mater. Adorning his body and desk with Cornell sweaters and swag, he easily pushes Andy’s buttons, until Andy calls Cornell and gets permission to be Dwight’s interviewer for the school. The scene between Andy and Dwight as they evaluate each other in increasingly aggressive and silly ways was the highlight of this episode, basically an ode to how funny both actors truly are.
In the episode’s third story, Jim drives to New York to have a lunch with Pam, where he is to introduce her to his brothers Tom and Pete. Pam gets there before Jim does, though, and tries to come up with a prank on Jim that Tom and Pete would help with that involves her pretending to lose her engagement ring. They decide they want to do another prank — mock Pam’s decision to make a career out of being an artist, because they know that Jim hates it when they give his girlfriends shit. Pam reluctantly agrees, and the lunch is the most awkward the show has been this season. It didn’t really end up being any kind of funny, but Jim finally defends Pam’s career choices only to have the extremely unfunny prank be revealed. The brothers decide, via text message post-lunch, that they really like Pam, and despite Jim being very pissed off at them, is happy that they have welcomed Pam into the family.
After last week’s incredible episode, I don’t think there was any way this week to match it, so the writers didn’t even try. Let a classic be a classic, and even with a lower laugh quotient like it was this week, it’s still better than most of the programming out there.
I will be sad to see Amy Ryan go so soon, as she was a bright shining light this season and a wonderful direction for the show to go in. Hopefully she can return later in the season after the producers offer her a good deal.
AND NOW HERE’S THE WIFE WITH THE REST OF THE NBC COMEDIES!
Kath & Kim 1.4 “Money”
I’ll give you the log line version of this episode’s two plots. Kath wants to have a fairy tale wedding which necessitates the acquisition of a pumpkin carriage, while Kim realizes that people pay up to $1,000 a puppy for purebred Rottweilers and wants to breed her husband’s dog, Ginger. I didn’t care for the Kath plot very much, but I will give it props for finally bringing Kath into the level of ridiculousness she often seems so above when she falls a few hundred dollars short of the deposit for her coveted pumpkin carriage. She calls Kim crying and wailing into the phone in words that are utterly unrecognizable as words. Hilarious. So far, Shannon’s best work on this show is that moment. Luckily for Kath, Phil wants to be her Knight in Shining Armor and rents the carriage for her, a gesture that she is so moved by that she and Phil must immediately have sex in the carriage.
Kim’s dog breeding plot ended exactly how one would expect a dog breeding plot to end: with a bevy of mutt dogs gangbanging the bitch in heat, thus impregnating her with non-pedigree puppies of indeterminate breed. I did like that the stud dog was named something along the lines of Gir Von Von Frukenhauser, which I think will be the name of my next apartment. (Our duplex is called Scooter McNippleton.) The good news about this plot is that it has a.) brought Kim and Craig closer together (even though Kim still resents Craig for not being the Craig that invented Craig’s List) and b.) found a way to bring Angel back into the series. This time, Angel has taken up volunteering at a dog shelter, which gets shut down, forcing Angel to find homes for ten dogs . . . the very same ten dogs that escape from her car and violate Ginger. It’s also good to know that NBC felt it was only decent to show one dog rape, choosing only to imply the remaining nine dog rapes by showing the dogs running into the yard, and then cutting to a sky-cam angle that showed Kim and Angel’s reactions to the dog rapes, but not the dog rapes themselves that are taking place under an open umbrella. I feel like that’s a little too much censorship. But, then again, maybe it’s just really hard to train more than one dog to hump on command. So maybe it was a practicality issue? I don’t know. Either way, I feel like I learned something about American audiences and their relationships to dog gangbangs.
In some unrelated notes from “Money:”
1. Phil wants to invent a sandwich to celebrate his love for Kath. His current “meat lab” experiment has brought him to conclude that the “sandwich that tastes like our love” would be “a warm tuna salad and sausage ciabatta with curly fries.” This is a double entendre, right? Tuna salad is what I think it is? And a sausage is, um, a sausage? If that’s true, then what the hell are curly fries? Pubes?
2. This episode started of with the fucking lamest pun in the world. When Kath complains about how Phil wants a small wedding, Kim suggests that they just get it over with and elope. Kath turns around, holding a fucking cantaloupe, and goes “Kimmie, we can’t elope!” Wow. Really? Really, Kath & Kim? Really? You went for a joke I last heard on Saved by the Bell back in 1991? Only when it was on Saved by the Bell, it involved Screech and went something like this:
Mr. Belding: Screech, you can’t elope!
Screech: Don’t call me a cantaloupe, you melon head!
No one can make a “cantaloupe/can’t elope” joke without forcing me to think about Screech.
(Husband note: I did not catch the pun until my wife just pointed it out, and now it’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week)
30 Rock 3.1 “Do-Over”
Both Jack and Liz get major do-overs in this episode. Jack, after losing his company to Devon and Kathy Geiss and returning from D.C., gets to participate in an accelerated re-do of his entire career, working his way up to the top from the lowly mailroom. (He is, after all, a man who “paid his way through Princeton by working the day shift at that graveyard and the graveyard shift at that Day’s Inn.”) In this process, which Jack estimates will take between 5 and 9 years (depending on how many times a day he gets promoted), Jack realizes that Devon is destroying the company and that he must do the unthinkable in order to regain control: sleep with Kathy Geiss. Just as Jack is about to give soap opera-obsessed Kathy everything he’s got, Liz bursts in and helps Jack recreate an even bigger soap opera trope that somehow involves murdering one’s twin at the gym and ends with two characters kissing. Well, almost. Jack and Liz care about each other, but not quite enough to put on a full show of kissing in front of a mentally challenged girl-child who loves sparkly unicorns and strawberry lipgloss.
“Three of my nine siblings were adopted . . . and one day I’m gonna find them.” — Kenneth
Liz meets with her adoption assessor, Bev (Megan Mullaly), who immediately dislikes the curtain pulls in Liz’s apartment as well as how much Liz works. Then Bev meets Liz’s staff, who all contribute to the ruination of Liz’s chances at adoption in their own, special ways. Frank, for instance, can’t stop talking about the Mexican circus video he had planned on showing, Cerie keeps insisting that the adoption interview is a custody battle and that Liz should have full custody of her children, and Pete violently flings the babies out of the makeshift nursery that Liz claimed the office had in an effort to return them to the prop room before they were needed again. Liz’s chances at adoption are totally nixed, until Bev gets hit in the head and she wakes up not knowing that the interview even happened. Even after a do-over in which everyone tries really hard to get everything right for Liz, Bev still cannot grant Liz an adoption.
“I wish there were a box on these forms where I could check off ‘passion.’” — Bev
While Liz doesn’t get her baby, Jack does regain power at the network when Kathy makes him her personal business advisor, thus shaming Devon back into gay-sex-at-noon-in-Central-Park obscurity and Devin’s second money-making scheme, which involves him throwing himself onto the hoods of cars and threatening to sue. A line from Devon that I really liked: “You know what rumors are, Jack. They make a Ru out of Mor and S.”
Also, its really weird to see Tina Fey and Megan Mullaly stand next to each other, as they both bear a resemblance to a certain Vice Presidential candidate with a fondness for shooting wolves from helicopters.