The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.24 “Gospel”

As My Name Is Earl comes close to, perhaps, ending its four-season run, it gave us this spiritual throwback to earlier seasons, when the plots may not have been as intricate as they grew to be over the show’s evolution, but relied enough on character work to make everything seem like it’s working hard for your money. A “hick show” this isn’t, but one based on a quite varied concept of spirituality and faith, without any of those religious implications that get in the way of what really matters – being a good person.

After meeting a preacher at a local fair, Earl decides to take on #34 on his list – stole an organ from a church. Why? He and Randy completely misunderstood the concept of “selling organs on the black market.” Whatever. To make up for it, they bring the organ back to the church, and Earl learns more of the preacher – he was once known as Hash Brown, a violent, short-tempered gangbanger who found God while in prison. Oh, and one more thing – Earl has done more than one unkarmic thing to this preacher. First, he stole his tool kit while Hash Brown was a construction worker, and to add insult to injury, Earl knocked over the port-a-potty Hash Brown was using. The preacher is a forgiving man, though, and simply asks that Earl and Randy attend the church’s next service.

And I shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance!

And I shall strike down upon thee with great vengeance!

At the service, the preacher and his congregation forgive the Hickeys, and then moved by the spirit confess transgressions of their own. This is fine, until the preacher’s wife stands up and declares that she slept with Earl with Hash Brown was in prison. (At the time, Earl had realized that picking up women outside of jail was a great idea.) The preacher, in turn, reverts back into Hash Brown and beats the shit out of Earl, grabs some valuable items from his lectern and goes out to his truck, declaring that God owes him ten years of missed income from Hash Brown’s business of selling crack. Earl, struggling to save the situation, notices that Hash Brown’s truck has a busted taillight. In fact, Earl had once tried to have Randy catch a bullet as a magic trick, a bullet that went through Randy’s hand and broke the truck’s taillight. Fortunately, this busted taillight got Hash Brown pulled over by the police so many years earlier, which in turn led to his incarceration and reawakening. No harm, no foul, and the preacher understands it as divine intervention.

In the B-story, Joy had become so drunk at the church fair on wine in Dixie cups that Darnell won’t let her drive him, so she wanders around Camden until she comes across a sit-down lawnmower. Now drunkenly driving quite slow around the neighborhood, she sees Catalina and runs her down, jealous of all the prizes she won at the fair that Joy wanted for herself. Realizing that she has two strikes and can’t get in trouble again (sort of the focal point for season 2’s court case that put Earl in jail), she drives the unconscious Catalina to a shed and pins her against the wall, figuring out what to do so that Catalina doesn’t call the cops.

“That psychic was right – I am going to die in a shack, pinned to the all by a lawnmower.” – Catalina

When Joy comes back the next day, she has Darnell in tow. Usually the voice of reason, Darnell can think of no other solution but to kill Catalina, and just as he is about to slash her throat (as Joy’s husband, this is in some ways the most reasonable solution), Joy knocks him out with a swift shovel blow to the head. Moved by Joy’s own intervention, Catalina promises to keep her mouth shut.

While not a great episode, I’ve always been drawn to the stories where one of Earl’s transgressions turns into several, and like an episode of a Larry David show, the decks get stacked so high against Earl that it’s fun to watch him flail.

The Office 5.23 “Broke”

Despite having taken a good deal of business away from Dunder Mifflin, the Michael Scott Paper Company (MSPC) seems to be approaching bankruptcy, thanks in no small part of Michael’s ignorance of how much it costs to expand a business beyond three employees who do all their early-morning deliveries by themselves in a van bought from a Korean church. (And as the logo is still on the side of the van, so every once in a while a Korean member of the Scranton community will hope on board.) By the way, what does Pam discover is Michael’s drink every morning? Milk and sugar. Nothing more. (Lufthansaaaaaa…)

“Ever since I’ve gotten clean, something about fresh 5 a.m. air makes me sick.” – Ryan

The important thing, however, is that Minor and Wallace at Dunder Mifflin don’t realize how close MSPC is to going belly-up, and as a result decide that it’s probably the best idea to simply buy them out. As Minor is starting to realize that Dwight, while possessing the best intentions, is a complete embarrassment through and through, he lets Jim go down to MSPC to propose a buy-out meeting.

Oh, no, this is a completely unfavorable situation.

Oh, no, this is a completely unfavorable situation.

Pam is especially excited for the deal to go through, because she has noticed that, on her quest to get some weekend work, she can’t even get call-backs from the likes of Old Navy, Target and Walmart. She and Ryan convince Michael to go through with it, as well as to do the best he can not to bring up the company’s financial situation. After all, she can’t really blame him for his failure:

“When a child gets behind the wheel of a car and runs into a tree, you don’t blame the child. He didn’t know any better. You blame the 30-year-old woman who got in the passenger seat and said, “Drive, kid. I trust you.’” – Pam

Upstairs at Dunder Mifflin, Michael stands up and gets Minor and Wallace to increase their offer from $12,000 all the way to $60,000, and in a moment of complete loyalty, Michael demands that all three members of the MSPC be allowed to work at Dunder Mifflin again. And this time, Pam is to be a salesperson.

(This is even despite Dwight’s warning that the company is, in fact, going under, as he has discovered that the MSPC made a round of calls to their clients asking for more money. However, Jim frustrates Dwight so much in front of Minor that Dwight ended up looking like an idiot.)

I’m not really sure why Wallace agrees to all the terms, but it definitely avoids a headache down the line. Michael had made a good speech moments earlier that even if the MSPC fails, he’ll just start another paper company, and then another, then another, so I guess that even if Michael is clearly a terrible businessman, his determination is enough to cause Corporate some discomfort.

A very forceful, very triumphant episode that more than makes up for a few lags over the last few episodes, as it proves that the show is completely incapable of spinning its wheels anymore. Comedy is one thing, but story is another.

Other funny bits:

  • “Come along, afterthought.” – Dwight
  • “Well well well…how the turntables…[pause]…” – Michael

The Wife:

Parks and Recreation 1.3 “The Reporter”

This episode was Parks & Recreations foray into having a plot, which was fine and all because plots are generally good things to have, but this one never really got any momentum behind it. (The first two episodes of this show I’d consider pretty plotless, and yet both moved toward some kind of denouement that actually, I felt, went somewhere.) In an attempt to drum up publicity for her pit-into-park project, Leslie sets up an interview with a reporter. Naturally, because everyone involved in this project but Ann (and maybe Mark Brandanawicz at times) is an idiot, they say things during the interview that they probably shouldn’t have said, like Chris Pratt’s revelation that he was drunk and searching for a toaster when he fell into the pit and broke his legs. I had kind of assumed that, but apparently Ann didn’t and now there exists a tape recording of his admitting to drunkenness which he didn’t tell the hospital when they gave him anesthesia in the ER.

Oh, God. Thats so great that they have that on tape now. Thank you.

Oh, God. That's so great that they have that on tape now. Thank you.

Leslie asks Mark to ameliorate the situation and charm reporter Shauna into writing a more positive article than the interview would lead her to. So Mark sleeps with her, which completely destroys Leslie when she realizes what has happened. Shauna quotes something Mark said to her about the park never, ever, ever going to come to fruition and Leslie asks him to get her not to write that, but she does anyway when he tells her that he doesn’t want to be in a relationship with her. The article remains mostly negative.

I guess my issue with this plot is that I find Leslie’s obsession with Mark too based in insane delusion than actual affection to care what he does one way or the other. I’m sure this has something to do with the way Poehler plays Leslie as perpetually optimistic, even to her determent, but in cases like this one, it’s really difficult to connect to Leslie’s feelings. She comes off as completely insane rather than completely human. (Husband Note: To be fair, Michael’s obsession with boss Jan over on The Office was also based primarily in insane delusion, but ultimately led to something much, much bigger.) I did, however, think her automatic response to Shauna sleeping with Mark was pretty great though, as she takes a breather from the interview to go lay down inside her government-issued vehicle, which in some way reiterates a theme her about bureaucracy being a way Leslie protects herself from being wholly human. It was also amusing.

Anyway, things that were very funny in this largely blank episode were:

  • Raccoons, which are never unfunny. They’re nature’s bandits.
  • A third joke about the brutal slaughter of Native Americans, this one a mural featuring a chief about to be shot by a cannon at close range. And yes, the fact that I find these jokes so funny does inherently disturb me. Who the fuck am I?
  • Tom Haverford’s approach to making his boss like him by intentionally losing at Scrabble. How badly does he play? With enough tiles to play FISHING for a bingo, Tom just plays his S next to an open I for a two-point play of IS. Man, I love Scrabble jokes!

30 Rock 3.19 “The Ones”

In this week’s A-story, Elisa returns, but doesn’t want to marry Jack because of her terrible secret. That secret? Her first husband cheated on her and she killed him, which became a pretty inescapable fact once a pop song was written about her, making her just like Helo Pinhiero, the Girl from Ipanema . . . if the girl from Ipanema were a murderess. Liz advises Jack that if she loves Elisa, he just shouldn’t cheat on her and marry her anyway. After all, Jack says, “right now, somebody is on a J-date with Monica Lewinski,” proving that even those with sordid pasts deserve love and forgiveness. But ultimately, Elisa doesn’t want to marry Jack and they break up.

The B- and C-stories were also about love and finding “The One” or not pissing off “The One” after you’ve found them. When an accident causes an LCD screen to fall on an employee’s head, Jenna meets and falls for a cute EMT, but his phone number gets eaten by the patient before Jenna can return. She pines for him in song like a Disney princess, and Pete asks her what she would do if she met a man at a funeral and wanted to see him again. Jenna proves she’s a sociopath by saying that, obviously, she would murder the deceased’s relative to see if the mystery man would come to that funeral, followed by a few other unnecessary murders. And so she goes on a near-death rampage, repeatedly poisoning Kenneth with strawberries (which make him go into anaphylactic shock) in order to see the cute paramedic again. The staff eventually tricks Jenna into think she’s killed Kenneth to get her to stop, but when Kenneth realizes why she was poisoning him, he drinks the potentially lethal strawberry water one last time to help Jenna meet the man of her dreams. Only when she does, she finds out he has a son, which means he definitely can’t be the one. Because Jenna hates children.

I think everyone needs a tattoo that basically says, Ima cut you!

I think everyone needs a tattoo that basically says, "I'ma cut you!"

As for Tracy, he can’t decide what to get his wife for their anniversary, so Liz suggests that rather than buying her meaningless gifts, he just ask her what she wants. And what does Angie want? Tracy to tattoo her name and image on his stomach, which is problematic because his signature move to get the ladies to want him is to lift up his shirt. DotCom suggests that Tracy get the tattoo, but simply draw a mane and add a few letters to it in Sharpie when he goes out so that it appears to be a lion named Tangiers.

“DotCom, that’s a great idea . . . if you want everyone to think I own a gay lion!” – Tracy

Tracy takes Jack out to help him decide not to cheat on Elisa and although they are surrounded by beautiful groupies, Tracy reveals his secret that he has never, ever cheated on his wife. The partying is all for show, but he loves and fears Angie too much to ever betray her. “All those phone numbers I hand out?” he says, “They’re not even mine.” They’re actually Brian Williams’, who, when called, will ask a booty call to come to Connecticut. I love Brian Williams. That dude is such a good sport. So Tracy does get that tattoo for Angie . . . only he gets it on his back . . . and it’s the tattoo of Tangiers, the gay lion. Oops.

Liz returned to her role as the bastion of normalcy in the wacky world of 30 Rock, even though she spent this entire episode wearing a Slanket, which seems infinitely cooler than a Snuggie, and comes in more colors!

Other funny:

  • “She is very spirited. Like a showhorse.” – The Cartier salesclerk, on Liz when he thinks Jack is buying a ring for her before revealing the real showroom when he sees a picture of Elisa
  • “You are wise, Liz Lemon. Like a genetically manipulated shark.” – Tracy
  • “I still think that would have sold much better if he had shot me in the face.” – Jenna, on the album she cut with Phil Spector
  • Liz: What do you want me to say, Tracy? I’m sorry I made it harder for you to cheat on your wife?
    Tracy: That’s a start, Liz Lemon. That’s a start.
  • “Could the hats have feathers? Yes! Yes!” – The Pranksmen
  • “I heard you singing, ‘Night Cheese.'” – Jack
  • “Eventually, it makes me loco for chocopuffs.” – Elisa, still not totally great at English advertising slogans, especially since she just spent two months away speaking no English whatsoever

And my favorite totally weird-ass reference of the night, from Kenneth, as he chokes on a strawberry:

“Oh no! Strawberries! My real name is Dick Whitman!”

If only Jon Hamm were around for that moment . . . I get why 30 Rock would make a Mad Men joke as both are critically acclaimed shows that don’t get the kind of ratings they deserve, and Jon Hamm did, in fact, guest on the show for awhile. But why Elisa has a Battlestar Galactica tee-shirt, I have no idea.

The Wife:

Kath & Kim 1.16: “Desire”

Kim really wants to throw a lingerie party as a way to make a little money and not be so bored, but Craig refuses to bankroll it, ending their date abruptly and therefore ruining Kath and Phil’s sexy naked time. Fed up with her daughter’s continual interruption of her sex life, Kath chases Kim out of the house and starts a scene with Craig, which gathers all the neighbors to watch. Honestly, I can’t believe more of the neighbors haven’t noticed these wacky tacky people before.

Afterward, Kath and Phil decide that they need to help repair Kim and Craig’s relationship. Kath agrees to bankroll Kim’s lingerie party and help her with the preparations (which basically amounts to Kath doing everything), while Phil suggests to Craig that he start acting like a responsible adult and wear dressy slacks and man jewelry. Kath and Kim have a great time at the lingerie party, until Craig and Phil bust in, dressed entirely alike. Craig tries to win Kim back by being like Phil, which is disturbing on so many levels.

Craig: I’m acting like an attractive adult male.

Kim: That’s lame.

They get in yet another fight and totally ruin the lingerie party. None of this was funny, and the lingerie party was basically just an excuse to get Selma Blair and Molly Shannon into skimpy outfits so they could show off their nice legs while acting like idiots. I’d have liked the Kath and Phil try to get Kim and Craig back together plot if it hadn’t converged in such an odd way.

At least Selma is, as always, giving her all.

At least Selma is, as always, giving her all.

Oh, well! Only one more of these left!

30 Rock 3.12: “Larry King”

I have never found Larry King to be as amusing as he was in this episode. Well, unless it’s Conan O’Brien making joke after joke about how freakin’ old the dude is. His appearance on 30 Rock comes as a show-within-a-show where Tracy Jordan, the worst person in the world to feature on Larry King Live, appears on that show to promote TGS.

Meanwhile, Jack hasn’t yet had sex with Elisa and he worries about where the ‘Jalisa’ relationship is going if they haven’t consummated their love and she heads off to Puerto Rico for a week to see her family. Liz boasts that she has officially had sex two more times than Jack in 2009, but loses her cell phone in a cab, setting her out on a trek to Queens to retrieve it from a cabby who wishes to extort money from her simply for knowing Tracy Jordan. When Jack hears that the Asian markets have crashed, he abandons Elisa, fearing that the end of capitalism is near. And as he returns to 30 Rock, Liz ropes Kenneth into escorting her to Queens by pretending she’s his friend.

While Tracy is on Larry King, they get news of the Asian market crash and King starts grilling Tracy on his opinions about the financial future of America. Tracy announces that he’s hidden some of his bajillions at work and the entire writing staff vows to find it. He also gives out such choice fear-mongering advice as:

“At midnight, your Lexus is going to turn back into a hot pile of rats fighting over a finger.”

As they walk through the streets of Queens, to a place where the subway no longer goes, Kenneth and Liz see the panic of the Asian market crash all around them. Kenneth isn’t sure its safe, but Liz tells him that he needs to go on with her because there’s something very important on her phone, a recording of a lullaby her nana just to sing to her, to the tune of “99 Luftballons” by Nena, rather than the actual nude photo of herself that Liz does not want the person holding her phone hostage to send to the whole office. Kenneth figures out that Liz has been lying to him and that they aren’t, in fact, friends and storms off, as if he is acting not as a friend, then he is acting in the capacity of an NBC page, and his insurance does not cover trips to Queens.

Angry that he left her to work on the night that they consummate their love, Elisa tells Jack that she’s leaving him and going to Puerto Rico. He then finds Don Geiss’ final message in the event of an emergency, which, recorded in 1981, warns everyone to “avoid the Noid” and to go to their loved ones. Realizing his error, he races out into the streets to find her and catches her just in time, as the economy is so bad a cab to the airport costs $800. He apologizes and asks her to marry him. She agrees, but:

“I want a ring so big it gives me back problems.”

Give us the money, Lebowski!

Give us the money, Lebowski!

The writing staff keep calling into Larry King, with Tracy mistaking Pete for Peter Frampton, desperately trying to find Tracy’s money. Tracy gives Pete enigmatic clues that about how it’s in the safest place in 30 Rock and, although its always moving, it stays in the same place.

“If you’re just joining us, we’re with Tracy Jordan, who’s giving guitar icon Peter Frampton enigmatic clues about a secret treasure.”

Liz meets with her phonenapper, but doesn’t have the phone ransom, until Kenneth arrives, hears Tracy’s clues broadcast over Larry King and realizes he is the safest place in 30 Rock, peeling open his jacket lining to reveal lots of moneys. He gives the phonenapper two grand and gets Liz her phone back. She apologizes and tells him that he’s her friend.

The next day, the panic about the Asian markets is revealed to be all for naught and that the American economy is just fine. Tracy gets blamed for all the hoopla and Elisa decides to leave for Puerto Rico anyway, telling Jack that she knows he only asked her to marry him out of panic. She does, however, give Jack and America a parting close-up of her boobs as she struggles to turn off the camera during her recorded message. A lovely parting gift.

I totally dug this episode. Full of insanity, complex story threads and some of the best things I’ve ever heard come out of Larry King’s mouth.

Two extra funny lines:

  • “Everything’s gone cocoa for cuckoopoops – is that right?” – Elisa
  • “Tracy Jordan, saying three serious things and then a joke.” – Larry King

The Wife:

My husband hasn’t watched his share of these shows yet, so we’ll post his half later, but for now, you can enjoy my hatred of Kath & Kim and my love of Jon Hamm, I mean, 30 Rock!

Kath & Kim 1.13 “Idols”

I appreciate this episode’s attempt to make Kath & Kim‘s tabloid obsession a part of their lives, but that still didn’t make the show very funny at all, despite all of Kath and Kim’s desperate attempts to get Wynonna Judd to have dinner at their house. I’m just going to list the few things I actually enjoyed about this episode, but not enough to actually laugh:

  • Kim’s solipsisms: “kimship” and “hardscramble”
  • The names from Craig’s band: Hot Country Gravy, Hot Biscuits and Buttergrits
  • Kath and Kim have Judd wigs. That’s pretty great.
  • Kim, on Tina’s suggestion to make a tape begging Wynonna to come to their home: “That’s the only good idea you’ve ever had.”
  • Kath running around like a maniac, screaming to anyone she sees that Wynonna is in her house.
  • All of Wynonan’s reactions to Phil, after hearing on Kim’s tape that she thinks he’s gay.

In retrospect, I probably shouldnt have agreed to guest star, youre right.

In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have agreed to guest star, you're right.

30 Rock 3.10 “Generalissimo”

Despite Alec Baldwin in a telenovela and the presence of one incredible Jon Hamm, I don’t think this was one of 30 Rock‘s best episodes. It had a number of funny moments, but none of the usual wackiness that I’ve come to love so much about 30 Rock. I will say this, though: everything about Los Amores Clandestinos was utterly fantastic.

Jack finds that the one obstacle in his relationship with Elisa is her disapproving grandmother. He realizes that she hates Jack because he looks exactly like a character on her favorite telenovela who is the epitome of evil, El Generalissimo. He does things that are incredibly, incredibly evil, like stealing a woman’s mail in order to get to know everything about her . . . which is exactly what Liz Lemon starts to do to her new neighbor, Dr. Drew Baird (Jon Hamm) when she accidentally gets some of his mail, opens it and becomes extremely intrigued by him, largely because he is a charity-loving doctor who enjoys both classic comedies and baking.

In order to solve his problem with Elisa’s abuela (whose brain is a little quidgy after spending all those years in the silver factory, rendering her incapable of telling reality from fiction most of the time), Jack decides to buy the rights to the show and start producing it on NBC so that he can control the content and kill El Generalissimo. However, when they film the first show, he realizes that the actor playing Generalissimo, Hector, won’t stick to the script and just die, so they have a showdown, mano a mano.

“Do not try to out-Generalissimo me, my friend.” – Hector

Once Jack explains his plight to Hector, Hector agrees to change his character into every abuela’s fantasy because even though he is very much the gay, he would totally like to bang Elisa, too.

Meanwhile, Tracy Jordan is spending way too much time with the new interns, who party as though they’re still working on Wall Street. He fears that if he doesn’t keep up his youthful image, he’ll lose his ability to be funny and will only get offered serious roles in films. One day, he returns to the office after having accidentally taken some roofies, which he hands to Liz before he passes out, muttering:

“You can do whatever you want to me.” – Tracy Jordan

Liz continues to steal dating ideas from El Generalissimo by pretending to lose her dog so that Jon Hamm will help her look for the dog she doesn’t even have in the first place and, eventually, inviting him to a “welcome to the building party” but telling him it’s on a different night so that she can get him alone in her apartment and seduce him with fondue.

Have you tried my new Jon Hamm's John Ham?

Have you tried my new Jon Hamm's John Ham?

There’s a really well edited sequence that follows where El Generalissimo proceeds to seduce an elderly Puerto Rican woman by lovingly looking at pictures of her grandchildren and complimenting how querida each of them are, promising to help her scratch her lottery tickets and take her to McDonald’s, while Liz and Jon Hamm feed each other fondue that’s all underscored by a Spanish guitar version of “Guantanamera.” For all of El Generalissimo’s success melting Elisa’s abuela’s heart, Liz’s attempt to seduce Jon Hamm goes horribly awry when a crazy downstairs neighbor finds “her dog.” The dog erratically barks all evening, giving Jon Hamm a headache, for which Liz tells him to take some Aspirin in her purse. Unfortunately, while she’s out of the room, he grabs some roofies, and falls to the floor, realizing that he’s surrounded by his stolen mail and that this insane woman before him doesn’t even have a dog.

Liz: I am the Generalissimo!
Drew: I don’t even know what that means!

This would never happen on Mad Men!

This would never happen on Mad Men!

Jack’s attempt to sway abuela’s heart was a complete success, and now Elisa’s abuela is so proud that her granddaughter is dating such a successful television man. So proud, in fact, that she wants him to make some changes to the nightly news, because it’s too sad. His changes? Photos of cute Latino babies shown over the sounds of Tito Puente.

Tracy decides to get the interns off his back by reopening Lehman Bros under his direction and Liz also gets her happy ending when Jon Hamm shows up at her door holding her mail, and admits that, based on her mail, he would really like to get to know this Elizabeth Lemon in 3B.

Other things I liked:

  • Tracy Jordan transcends race.
  • Jon Hamm smells like frosting. Which is funny, because I actually imagine he smells like Pomade and scotch.
  • “You should not end a sentence with a preposition at.” – Tracy Jordan
  • El Generalissimo is the face of Sabor De Soledad.

The Husband:

My Name Is Earl 4.14 “Got the Babysitter Pregnant”

Earl is back, and it has returned with a nice re-entry into Camden County and its goofy but loveable inhabitants. Not going too over-the-top and holding within it a very simple lesson on what is the right way to raise a child, this episode shows the charm of which this show is so capable.

Earl, while drinking at the Crab Shack, is reminded of another one of his list items, which was that he got the babysitter pregnant. Flashing back to when he was a young teenager, we find that the situation is not exactly what he may have implied. Having fallen in love with Rachel, the very hot babysitter with 80s hair (who also introduced Earl to Lynyrd Skynyrd), he becomes jealous when she brings home a boyfriend, so he goes through the boyfriend’s wallet and puts a pin through his condom.

“Look at the bright side. We already know you’re a good babysitter.” – Young Earl

Coming back to the present, Earl feels extremely (and appropriately) guilty for this misdeed, but when he visits Rachel again, he finds that not only has she become Faith Ford (who I guess recovered from being shotgun-blasted to death by Mitch “The Shocker” Pileggi), but that she and her boyfriend-turned-husband are very happy (despite having given birth to their son at their wedding). Unfortunately, the son is still living at home, and is now a grown-up dickbag who lacks any form of responsibility or social graces.

Earl figures that in order to cross Rachel off of his list, he needs to take the son and turn him into a man and a responsible adult, but things don’t always go as planned. The son is, in fact, a complete douchenozzle, choosing to waste time at the motel instead of looking for a job and learning how to take care of himself.

“You didn’t feed yourself. You just talked a homeless woman into cooking baby birds for you.” – Earl

When Earl finally lectures the son on being a dickbag, Randy realizes that Earl could just as easily be talking about him, especially the part about not having a job. (Dude, Randy, it was established two seasons ago that you do, actually, have a job and a destiny. It’s helping Earl with his list.) So Randy, in a huff, leaves with the son to do their own thing.

Stop being such a D-bag and get a job!

Stop being such a D-bag and get a job!

Worried that his tough love sent Randy and the son away (presumably to their deaths), Earl, Rachel and her husband search far and wide for their guys, only to have them return in suits and riding a golf cart. During their time away, it turns out, Randy, now having his own “Randy,” found himself becoming more mature and responsible, leading them, through a series of bizarre circumstances, to help a man recover his wallet as well as attend a convention where they become the hits of the party. Earl learns his lesson, the son moves out of Rachel’s house (and into her basement) and another list item is crossed off.

Joy, meanwhile, has to avert disaster when she accidentally loses Darnell’s precious Mr. Turtle when she drove off with him still on the roof, so instead of looking for the lost turtle, she finds two others and has Catalina choose which is the most like Mr. Turtle.

“Well, Mr. Turtle always reminded me of Richard Dreyfus, and this one looks like Richard Dreyfus, but this one acts like Richard Dreyfus.” – Catalina

The one she chooses goes home to Darnell, who realizes quickly that something is very wrong with “his” turtle. Joy, pissed that the turtle won’t even walk on its treadmill, goes back to Catalina and blames her for picking the wrong turtle. Asked where the other fake Mr. Turtle is, Catalina responds that it’s in the pool along with every other abandoned animal that shows up at the motel.

“I think there’s a Shetland pony at the bottom.” – Catalina

When the fake Mr. Turtle finally dies, Darnell goes to bury it – complete with a Jewish headstone adorned with the Star of David (don’t ask, because I don’t know why) – Joy comes clean to Darnell, who assures her that everything’s okay and that if any turtle can find his way back home, it’s Mr. Turtle. We are left at the end of the episode with a very terrifying assurance, from a talking turtle, that no turtles were harmed in the making of this episode.

Oh noes, Mr. Turtle!

Oh noes, Mr. Turtle!

I’m glad Earl, which has had a rocky season, could return from its break with such a nice, easygoing and laid-back episode, because it’s when the show gets too ridiculously silly that it becomes kind of grating. It was a nice reassurance that this show isn’t going anywhere, and that every week at 8 p.m. I can see nice people do nice things and still get a good deal of belly laughs, including when Joy walks into the Crab Shack speaking poor Spanish, explaining:

“Now that Democrats are in office, we all better learn Spanish.” – Joy

The Wife:

Kath & Kim 1.11 “News”*

I’m glad they didn’t give up the pregnant dog storyline, because I was really afraid Kath & Kim was just going to forget entirely about some of the threads they’ve created. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the payoff of this plot very funny. It should have been, as Craig rails at Ginger for betraying him by getting knocked up in a doggie gangbang as though he’s been betrayed by a lover, but something about it just didn’t click.

I am not a whore, Craig. I still love you!

I am not a whore, Craig. I still love you!

Meanwhile, Kath has a client die in her chair, which startles Kim into having feelings and drives Kath on a bender to keep the poor woman from being buried in bangs.

“Defending Ginger? Naming a dog after Pearl? I’m becoming confused by you having feelings.” – Kath

But really, this episode was about Phil’s quest to save the corporeal form of an obese customer from, well, obesity by putting the man (who would normally order a dozen or so Sandwich Island sandwiches for a single meal) on a diet.

“I’m loading a gun with meat and cheese and aiming it right at his heart.” – Phil

At first, I thought this plotline was going to be yet another one in Kath & Kim‘s long series of fat jokes, as Roland stares longingly at Kim’s pizza, sneaks snacks and so on, but then Phil catches Roland ordering three times his normal sandwich order from the Island and bans him, causing Roland to put together an army of overweight protesters who are more than willing to actively march and picket outside of Sandwich Island to defend their right to order more “healthy” food than is humanly necessary. Phil realizes from the protest that he cannot force Roland to improve his health. You can’t force someone to change unless they’re ready to do so. Roland, however, is thankful for the whole semi-cruel ordeal, as putting together the protest allowed him to meet the love of his life.

* Strangely, seems to think this episode is called “Florida,” which I guess would make sense, because it’s Phil’s constant refrain about the weather throughout this episode. However, Florida? Not an abstract noun. Every episode of Kath & Kim is an abstract noun. It doesn’t fit the naming conventions. (Yes, I will argue that “news” and “friends” are abstract nouns. As is “gay.”)

30 Rock 3.7 “Señor Macho Solo”

Liz has babies on the brain, so much so that she accidentally hits on Peter Dinklage by rubbing his head, thinking he’s a child. In an attempt to save face, she goes on a coffee date with him and, it turns out, actually likes him. He has a great job at the UN (on the High Commission on Water Temperature and Food Taint), which he is actively willing to compare to the Galactic Senate in Star Wars, and thinks Liz is cute. (Incidentally, I would totally do Peter Dinklage. That dude is hot. I’ve had a crush on him since The Station Agent, but really fell for him as sensitive painter Marlo on Nip/Tuck, who helps care for lobster-handed Connor McNamara during season 4.)

“Oh, Liz. Look at you and me and our biological clocks. You keep getting baby crazy and I keep getting turned on by car accidents.” – Jenna

Meanwhile, Jenna’s new goal in life is to score the lead role in a new Janis Joplin biopic, going so far as to audition for Jack in character. All goes well until her good news about scoring the lead is sullied when a rival entertainment company announces their plans to do a biopic, stalling Jenna’s project in the water as they feud over life rights, and potentially endangering her promotional plan to sing a Janis song on an upcoming episode of The Girly Show.

This scene really made me whistful for the brief period of time when Pink was going to star in a Janis biopic. Until something exactly like this happened.

This scene really made me whistful for the brief period of time when Pink was going to star in a Janis biopic. Until something exactly like this happened.

Jack does everything he can to help her, while balancing his quest to get Tracy’s wife Angela to sign a “post-nup” so that she won’t get all of Tracy’s copious amounts of porn video game monies should he ever leave her. Tracy has so much cash now that he doesn’t know what to do with it and has decided to start fashioning accessories out of it: gold sneakers made of actual gold that he has to lift up his legs with his arms to walk in, a shirt made entirely out of $100 bills (which I would love as a dress, by the way) and a top hat made of cash. Jack ultimately gets Angela to agree to the post-nup, securing herself only 85K should Tracy ever leave her “for that chunky chick from Hairspray” or “any other woman of appropriate thickness.” Angela thinks the post-nup is stupid because she knows Tracy would never be dumb enough to leave her, uttering a creepy but sweet, “I’m gonna watch you die, Tracy Jordan.” This sentiment is so romantic to Tracy that the two strip down and have sex right there in Jack’s office, in front of Grizz and DotCom.

Back at home, Jack has hired Puerto Rican live-in nurse Salma Hayek to take care of his multiply-fractured mother. With Liz out dating The Dink (as I like to call him), Jack has no confidant and begins to air his troubles about Jenna and Tracy to Elisa the nurse. Horrified by Tracy and Angela’s eternal commitment to each other, Jack tells Elisa that he doesn’t want to connect to anyone, having already decided that he will exit this world not in the arms of those he loves but in some scenario involving a McFlurry machine and a videotape of risqué foreign commercials. (In Puerto Rico, Elisa tells him, a McFlurry is called a Señor Flurry. I hope that’s true, and that they come in strange flavors there. In Italy, they’re still called McFlurries, but you can get them in cappuccino flavor with chocolate espresso beans. And they’re good that way.) Despite his resistance to romance, Jack starts to fall for Elisa when he finds a lump on his balls, causing him to rethink his whole attitude toward dying alone with a Señor Flurry machine. Elisa examines him, lulling him into a false sense of security with rapid fire Spanish (it subdues white people), and asks him to consider going to a doctor.

On their second date, The Dink realizes that Liz thought he was a child when she picks him up and carries him away from a hot food stand.

“Did you pick me up to keep me from touching fire?” – The Dink

Realizing that Liz is too good to be true and only started dating him out of a case of mistaken identity, he breaks up with her. Distraught because she actually really liked him, Liz calls his office and suggests that the two recreate the Brooklyn Bridge scene from the Sex & the City Movie where the two agree to meet at that location at a certain time if they still want to be together. Though bored to tears by Liz’s description of the film, the Dink agrees to the plan, and lets Liz make a prank call to the Italian ambassador. At the agreed upon time, both Liz and the Dink show up to their rendezvous point, but Liz loses him because she, once again, mistakes a child for him. That’s really too bad. I would have liked to see the Dink have an arc, but that would also mean Liz Lemon would have to succeed at dating, and we all know that’s never going happen.

Man, at least on that other show they let me have tons of hot sex with Joely Richardson.

Man, at least on that other show they let me have tons of hot sex with Joely Richardson.

In an effort to encourage Jack to not become Señor Macho Solo, which, by the way, is what they call a McRib sandwich in Puerto Rico, Elisa invites the gonad cyst-bearing man to her niece’s Quinceañera, to which he brings a bottle of 65 Moët Chandon and some pizza blasted Pringles, not quite knowing which end of the taste spectrum he should go for. (On my drunkest of days, those two things would be the greatest meal of my life. And my wine-cultured friends would hate me for it.) Jack is at first confused as to why none of the 200 members of Elisa’s family hate each other, but then grows to enjoy the closeness and begins to wonder the eternal question:

“Can two people really fall in love over a benign gonad cyst?” – Jack

I’ll be interested to find out if that’s true. And that’s not just because I want to know how other menu items translate into Puerto Rican Spanish.

Some other things I loved about this episode:

  • A Blfair to Rememblack, Tracy’s all-black remake of An Affair to Remember, which he announces wearing elf ears and a metal suit of armor.
  • Jenna going on to sing a Janis song with slightly changed lyrics that Jack wrote at the last second:

“You know you bought it if you buy it with things.”
“Take another little chunk of my lung now, mister.”

Yes. Hilarity.

  • “I apologize that your regular warm-up comic OD’d at a gay man’s apartment this morning.” – Kenneth
  • “Cat sound!” from Liz, explaining why she’s a maneater.