My Name Is Earl 4.25 “Inside Probe, Pt. 1”
Being as this is the first section of a two-parter, there isn’t a whole lot to say about this episode other than its build-up, but I also didn’t want to leave the Office review on its own, so here goes.
Starting like Earl‘s previous “Our COPS is on” episodes, Randy runs into the crab shack, TV Guide in tow, but this time it’s for their featured Inside Probe, an Inside Edition-like primetime newsmagazine special hosted by Geraldo Rivera. (Who Earl can’t seem to stop calling Gerardo…?) But what in Camden County could possibly be worthy enough of a network investigative piece? Why, the disappearance of Ernie, the founder and original owner of Ernie’s Crab Shack, of course. (The special, by the way, is titled “Claws Of Death: Unknown.”)
As Geraldo gets into the nitty gritty of the years old case — the special was meant to air years earlier, but Darnell wouldn’t sign off on his likeness as he was still in the witness protection program — a focus seems to emerge, and that focus is directly on the Hickey clan and their friends. Earl and Randy, especially, raise suspicions due to their lengthy police records, leading to even more focus on Joy, Darnell, Catalina and Patty the hooker. (Those last two were a major part of Ernie’s life, as he would go see Catalina dance, and then get his rocks off later with Patty.)
That’s about it. It was all set-up, giving us just a bit more backstory into most of the characters we already know. (One thing I didn’t know? Randy Hickey’s middle name is “Doo.”) And other than two out-of-nowhere Howard Stern references, it wasn’t that funny of an episode. But hey, it’s only the first half, so I should probably just keep my mouth shut.
Okay, Joy did have two good lines.
Randy, are those you toe nails in the ice cube tray?
And at the end of the episode, where the main characters are complaining about the episode of Inside Probe being split up over two weeks, they bitch about how the networks treat certain shows, to which Joy adds:
Plus you can’t curse ’til a certain time of night.
The Office 5.24 “Casual Friday”
Without question, one of the best Office episodes of the year and of the series run, this was a stellar combination of comedy and drama, main characters and ensemble, goofy humor and cruel humor. This is a perfect episode, and I dare those who claim they don’t like this season to find this episode bad. Sometimes The Office takes an entire episode just to support a few instances of comedy, while others lose most of the comedy to focus on the well-earned dramatic aspects. But not here, no siree.
Now that Michael, Pam and Ryan are back at Dunder Mifflin, the non-quitting DMers are now pissed that they don’t get their clients back. (You know, the ones that the Michael Scott Paper Company stole from them.) This is made especially problematic because in order for Pam and Ryan to continue as employees as DM, they need these clients, otherwise they’re just a waste of money. And so the office turns on the three turncoats (can one technically turn on a turncoat) and, led by Dwight, quickly forms a mutiny against Michael.
Andy: It’s on like a prawn who yawns at dawn.
Dwight: Stop doing rhyming poetry!
But Jim isn’t one to mutiny, and so he goes to Michael and informs him of the impending storm, and that Michael has a great deal of damage control ahead of him. But Michael, as he puts it, is “not to be truffled with,” and meets with the sales staff, where he learns of his only option to avoid mutiny— let either Pam or Ryan go. And who does he ask for an unbiased opinion but Jim. Jim, of course, will never turn on Pam, and gets angry at Michael for bringing up some of Pam’s biggest faults as an employee.
But Michael, finally, makes the right decision, and after fake firing Pam — an unfunny thing Michael seems to like doing to everybody over the years — he hires Pam and offers Ryan back his old temp position. (Ryan did, after all, almost sink the company when at Corporate.)
This is all enough material for an entire episode, but the show isn’t satisfied with that, so it adds to the whole kerfuffle the drama over it being Casual Friday, which in turn leads to some major battles over what is and isn’t appropriate workplace attire. (As assumed, Meredith shows up in a tiny dress without any undergarments, and Kelly tries to pull a J-Lo.)
And those aren’t even the two biggest laughs. One, from the underused Darryl (Craig Robinson):
“What did I tell you about building forts in my warehouse?”
And later, Jim tries to avoid all the madness at the office, playing a game of Scrabble with Creed.
Creed: Hey, I wanna set you up with my daughter.
Jim: Oh, I’m engaged to Pam.
Creed: I thought you were gay.
Jim: Then why would you want to set me up with your daughter?
Creed: I don’t know.
Comedy writers, take note. This is how to do a perfect episode, one of laughs, characters, emotions and greatly progressing storylines. Laughs are meaningless without a connection, and The Office knows that through and through.