The Husband:

Due to returning home at a very late hour thanks to seeing Adele in concert last night, my wife and I did not watch any television, and even my own foray into the boob tube – Wednesday night’s episode of The Real World (really digging this season so far, by the way) – was cut short by a faulty DVR that only recorded 25 minutes of a 60-minute show. Oh well.

To make up for the absence of posts (no Private Practice, no special Thursday edition of American Idol), here’s the last two episodes of My Name Is Earl, a post made easier by the fact that it was a two-parter.

Another week, another list item. (Well, Earl takes a side project in eliminating #182 – played tetherball with Randy’s face.) This time it’s #31 – ruined Joy’s chance to be on TV. Her whole life, Joy wanted nothing more than to be a celebrity, and coinciding with her trailer park upbringing, she finally sees her opportunity in Fear Factor. Making a tape of herself eating bugs and doing dumbass stunts, she thinks she’s perfect for the show, but Earl (pre-karma) ends up using the videotape for shotgun practice and lies about sending it in. Ever since then, Joy has been distraught about not being accepted, leaving her to wonder if her asshole grandma was right when she said that Joy would never amount to anything.

“My granny may have been a drunk, racist monster, but she was a good judge of character.” – Joy

Suddenly Earl hears about a new project, a popular televised talent show that is now holding special auditions that week in Camden. The show? The incredibly named Estrada Or Nada.

There is no better joke about this picture than the picture itself.

There is no better joke about this picture than the picture itself.

It’s one of these episodes of Earl that makes me love it despite some of its flaws, because had I described the plot of the two-parter to a regular person, they’d think I was losing my mind. Case in point – Estrada Or Nada. You show up to the audition and do your specialty act, and Brian Dunkleman, the host of the show, is there to see if you should go onto the main show or not. The main show, as you may have guessed, is going up against actor Erik Estrada, where he will view your talent and then do a similar talent but much, much better and with far more suave, Latino charm. Because Estrada is better than you, and he knows it.

The whole town wants to audition, though, so Joy has to make her talent extra-special.

“Man, I haven’t seen a line this long in Camden since the opening day of the methadone clinic.” – Darnell

Finally getting onstage, Joy does a pretty mediocre act involving her contorting her body, hopping around and poorly singing a pop standard. She is rejected outright with all cameras pointed at her, so she attacks Brian Dunkleman. Before nearly beating him to death, Darnell comes onstage and intervenes.

Here’s the big problem – regular viewers of the show know that Darnell, for reasons unknown, is in the Witness Protection Program, and that Darnell isn’t even his real name. Unfortunately, by pulling Joy off of the Dunk, millions of people saw his face during the audition special of Estrada Or Nada. This means only one thing – a new identity, and now that he’s married to Joy and has two sons with her, they have to come along, too.

Earl, of course, knows that it’s his duty to fix this, and when he finds out that Joy has become a mini-celebrity for beating the shit out of Dunkleman, and she has been invited to the real show to make an appearance, he has to track her down, which proves difficult.

But Catalina has an idea. Just as she entered Camden, so too shall they exit Camden. Meaning? In a box. Because, through a series of connections and government protection points, Joy and Darnell are still receiving their mail, even if nobody knows the real address.

But where are Joy, Darnell and the children? Well, they’re still training to be their new personalities – the Rosensteins, a Jewish family from Columbus, Ohio. Joy is not really big on de-glamming herself into bespectacled, ratty dark-haired Phyllis Rosenstein (who makes clothes for dogs as a career).

“It’s like you took an episode of The Swan and ran it backwards!” – Joy

She hopes, instead, to become Goldilocks “Goldie” Cristal, especially since she can’t sew for shit, but this plan is clearly shot down.

“Only thing I ever sewed was my stab wound on prom night!” – Joy

Soon, though, the family takes on their personas better, leading to the following two little bits of dialogue incroyable.

Kids: “Shalom, dad!”

Darnell: “Shalom, boys!”

“I’m gonna snip off the tip of my penis tomorrow.” – Darnell

When Joy finally gets wind of her requested appearance on Estrada Or Nada, though, she makes her way to the studio, where she surprisingly does very well up against Estrada, so much so that the challenge has to go several rounds. Finally, she one-ups him with what Earl describes as the following: “dressing a dog while talking in Hebrew with a follow-up trivia question about Ohio.”

She looks just like Hope Davis in American Splendor, no?

She looks just like Hope Davis in American Splendor, no?

Estrada defeated, he gives Joy props, and though Darnell is happy for Joy, they still have to leave town to avoid whoever is out to get Darnell. Joy, despite all of her time in Camden, loves Darnell enough to go with him wherever he needs to be, and the episode ends with them skipping town.

A lot of people don’t like this show when it changes things up, but if you’ve read even one of my Earl entries, you’d know I’m the exact opposite. I loved it when Earl was in prison and I loved it when he was in a coma, because it allowed the rest of the cast to carry on his tasks, thus recognizing the wonderful ensemble nature of the show. Joy and Darnell will be back, and I’m fascinated as to what is going to happen to them next.

A few other assorted goodies from the two-parter:

  • “It’s harder to follow her when she’s not chewing gum.” – Darnell on Joy
  • “Shoot, I can’t remember the sign for “cheese crunchies.” – Darnell
  • “Change the channel! Celebrity Rehab is on!” – Joy
  • “Cool! Darnell’s got a hairphone!” – Randy
  • The little person who auditioned for Estrada Or Nada dressed up as Ponch, calling himself MicroCHIPs