A quick catch-up with My Name Is Earl…

The Husband:

Here we go, four posts in one.

“Joy In A Bubble”

I always tend to gravitate toward the episodes of Earl that hold within them a lot of sweetness, so I was incredibly pleased with this one which taught Joy a very valuable lesson — that just because she’s a bitch, her children shouldn’t have to suffer because of it.

When Earl takes on an item on his list that he “cost Joy a hot tub, he finds one on the side of the road (complete with a homeless man living under it) and gives it to her as a present. Unfortunately, it’s full of disease so she gets a horribly infected toe, resulting in her having to be bubbled up Travolta-Gyllenhaal style in her own trailer. This turns off Darnell considerably, as he is very serious about disease.

Joy: Are you boiling your clothes?

Darnell: Uh…I’m making iced tea!

To make it up to Joy, Earl has to be Joy for a while, including going to the beauty salon and catching her up on all the gossip, as well as picking the kids up from school. There, he finds that the boys have been ostracized because Joy is so hated by everybody, and Joy doesn’t want her kids to be around anyone who hates her. As one school official tells Earl:

“About time she got a real disease. She comes down with cancer every time we need parents for a field trip. First couple of times we even raised money for her.”

When Joy learns of Camden’s hatred of her, she bursts out of her bubble and intends to take vengeance on all those who done her wrong, but she finally thinks better of the situation and learns to be a better parent. It’s these kinds of episodes that get me to really love this very silly show, a characteristic that separates it from dumber sitcoms.

“Stole An RV”

This less-than-funny episode, though, dealt it unnecessary violence and fairly worthless chaos, as Earl helps a war veteran (Jerry Van Dyke) regain everything they took from him when they stole his RV and accidentally blew it up. For one, they pull a Lars & The Real Girl on him and dress a Real Doll like his wife, and follow it up with finding him a jug so he can get back into playing his favorite instrument.

“I love the jug. Easiest instrument to learn. Hardest to master. Actually, that’s not true.” — Veteran

When they mention that they lost the shriveled ear he had, he goes nuts and stalks a former war buddy whose ear he cut off years earlier, now intent on cutting his other ear. He goes all house invasion on the war buddy, but by the end they are okay again, the buddy giving the veteran his final heart medication pill so he doesn’t die.

The episode was too formulaic and look-at-me crazy to be anything special, but I still got some great quotes out of it.

  • “They don’t watch black-and-white movies because it reminds them too much of newspapers.” — Darnell
  • “I think I know the difference between a prehistoric pig and Jumbo Sally!” — Joy
  • “You can’t catch a pig with bacon. That’s like trying to catch a cow with a cheeseburger.” — Darnell
  • “This should be a lesson about trying to kill people when you’re over 60.” — Earl

“Sweet Johnny”

In a formulaic but ultimately interesting episode, Earl takes on item #7 on his list, in which he went out of his way to suggest dangerous stunts for Sweet Johnny the Stuntman (David Arquette) to do, thus getting him bedridden for days and allowing Earl to tap his girlfriend Sheila’s sweet ass. When Earl returns to meet Sweet Johnny ten years later, it turns out that one day Sweet Johnny hit his head in his house and now has Clean Slate-amnesia, with which his mind resets every time he falls asleep, so for a decade he has been thinking it’s the day before a big Danny Deckchair-type stunt.

Oddly, Courtney Cox Arquette was not interested in participating in this stunt.

Oddly, Courtney Cox Arquette was not interested in participating in this stunt.

Earl has to deal with his mischief each day as he has to retell Sweet Johnny of his affair with Sheila, and while his intentions are noble — including finally trying to save him from killing himself with his balloons-plus-lawnchair stunt — he realizes that no matter what, he cannot win against the list this time, as Sweet Johnny will not remember Earl’s repentance no matter what.

I’m always appreciative of a break from formula, which is why I’m one of the sole people to enjoy Earl’s time in prison as well as when he was in his coma, leaving others to deal with the karma list.

“We’ve Got Spirit”

Earl is taken by surprise when he intends on fixing an item on his list — “kept Kenny from his dream of being a cheerleader” — only to find out that it was actually Randy who had his sights set on this dream. Earl decides to accompany Randy to cheer camp, where his brother couldn’t me more excited.

“My name is Randy! *Clap Clap* And I like candy! *Clap Clap* And I like corn dogs! *Clap Clap*” — Randy

Their instructor, though, is a sour former cheerleader who was soured by being attacked by her school’s mascot, a rabid badger, one day during a game, leaving her with a rack-like scar on the left side of her face. (No matter that with the casting of Jenna Elfman as the cheer coach, My Name Is Earl continues to find a way to put every single Scientologist actor in Hollywood on the show no matter if they’re talented or not.)

Come visit the Scientology Center! You know you want to!

Come visit the Scientology Center! You know you want to!

When Randy and Earl find that, at the cheer camp, their own Camden team is a bunch of misfits, they attempt to revitalize their spirits and make Camden #1 (or at least not last place). Earl then has to sleep with the cheer coach to keep them from being thrown out of the camp (the coach’s daughter is on a competing team), but that doesn’t come without its major problems.

“Is your eye going to drip every time you blink?” — Earl

In the episode’s B-story, Joy discovers that one of her sons has a crush on Catalina, so she does everything in her power to make herself more sexually appealing to her son, including wearing lingerie and glitter while reading him his bedtime story. Finally, Darnell teaches her the very important lesson that no son should be attracted to his mother, except for an occasional awkward dream during puberty that nobody likes to talk about.

Both stories were pretty half-baked in my opinion and epitomizes my major issues with the show when it gets too formulaic. So far, the season hasn’t been entirely up to snuff, so I hope that the writers learn to break out of their funk and rely more on their own spirit and ensemble then easy laughs and too many guest stars.

This episode did give me this wonderful line, though, which Joy screams to her son when she catches him eyeing Catalina:

“You just like her cuz she’s the same color as pancakes!” — Joy

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