PremiereWatch: 'My Name is Earl'

Jasonlee_mynameisearl_240For the season premiere at the very least, My Name is Earl went back to the formula, with Earl trying to fix mistakes he had made in his misbegotten youth (or near-youth anyway). I thought the plots of both episodes good ones tonight. They may not have been as funny as some of the best episodes of seasons past, but there was definitely a lot to like.

In the first episode of the evening, we learned all about how Earl had destroyed a Make a Wish kid's final wish -- to ride on a pony in the New Year's Day parade. You see, Earl had gotten drunk the night before the parade and ridden the pony home. In the present, and years after the incident, Earl headed out to make it up to the kid's mom, but found out that it wasn't necessary as the kid, Buddy, was actually still alive.

In order to cross Buddy off the list, Earl was going to have to help Buddy make his dream film. Naturally, during the casting phase, Buddy chose Joy as the "hot but edgy" wife for the lead character, Max Patrick. And then there was Randy, who was cast as the president. Sure, that might not seem like logical casting, but Randy was the guy with the suit. He had found it with baby cats all over it behind the motel and had booted the cats from it and taken it for himself. Once filming actually started, Randy proved to be truly awesome as the president. Not only that, he could do Joy's part, Patty's part, and characters from a ton of other movies as well (the best by far -- Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs, Randy nailed it).

As good as Randy was, the rest of the production and cast left something to be desired, particularly Buddy. He would just call himself a perfectionist, but I think everyone else on the set would have called him something moderately more rude and that's probably why they all quit. Buddy did have the brains to not try to shoot the rest of the film with just he and Earl as cast and crew and opted to make a good small movie with the footage he had instead of a mediocre longer one.

He should have opted for an even shorter film than he did however, because he died before the screening took place a few weeks later. We learned just before the premiere that Buddy's illness was still terminal, that the doctors in Camden were just a little wrong about when he was going to die.

We did get to see some clips of the abbreviated film, and it was pretty bad -- everything except for the opening shots from NYPD Blue that Buddy had used. Those work just as well today as they ever did.

In watching the film, Earl and the rest of the gang realized that Buddy got to live out a bunch of his lifelong dreams (meeting the president, riding a horse in the parade, etc.) by making the movie. It caused them all to try to live out their dreams while they still had the chance (or for the last minute of the episode anyway).

The second episode began with a yard sale at the Hickey's. Randy's contemplating purchasing back an old set of lawn darts reminded Earl that he and Randy drove away their parents' best friends by torturing the husband. They didn't do anything serious, they mostly just feigned problems so that Mr. Clark would cry, but the boys decided that it must have been too much for the man to handle.

Clark Clark, who had moved with his wife to Clark Street one town over told Randy and Earl that they didn't cause the move. It turned out it was actually Earl's mom's fault, as she had a one-night stand with Mr. Clark and her opting not to make it a longer relationship was what made him want to move.

So, Earl hadn't needed to put Clark on the list when the episode first started it, but he certainly did have to add someone to his list after he convinced his father to beat up Clark Clark. Clark Clark was small, so Carl was able to take him out pretty quickly, but Mrs. Clark was a larger woman with a great hook. She managed to beat up both Earl and Carl with very little difficulty.

Getting licked by one woman didn't soothe Carl at all -- he still felt the need for revenge, but opted this time to get revenge against Kay, who just felt horrible about the whole situation. She didn't feel as bad as Randy did having to listen to how his dad didn't know how to satisfy her, but she did feel bad. I really don't think she would have felt bad if she'd known Carl was out trying to have sex with various women in Camden, but she didn't know, so it was cool.

On the upside for Carl and Kay's marriage, Carl completely struck out trying to find a woman. He almost succeeded, but he didn't know Patty was a hooker and once he did he wasn't interested anymore. Carl's failure to score led to something of an emotional breakdown and he shed tears in front of Earl for the first time. Then, Earl shed tears in front of Carl. Then they both cried... and cried... and cried. By the morning, Carl had forgiven Kay and Earl took him back to the house so that husband and wife could "make up."

I know what you're thinking, but it didn't actually end happily. You see, running throughout the whole episode was the recurring character of Milo, a doll that Randy had as a kid who always told the truth. Randy and Earl had found Milo at the yard sale, but later Randy ripped off Milo's head so as to prevent the doll from telling Carl about Kay's indiscretion. By the end of the episode, the head was back with the body, but Randy had set poor Milo on fire so that the doll might never again spoil a beautiful lie. You can't call that a happy ending, you just can't.

Quotes and questions:

  • Joy on the red carpet at the movie premiere when asked about her dress -- "Supposed to be worn the other way, but seriously, what would you rather see -- shoulder blades or cleavage? Sometimes I think clothing designers are gay men."
  • Kay to poor Randy at the bar -- "Let's just say your father does not know his way around a woman's body. He's got two moves -- squeeze the Charmin and poke around down there like he's trying to pop a balloon."
  • The question of the week: Earl is, apparently, going to be more focused this year on fixing past transgressions than he was last season. Are you happy to see the show return to its roots or did you like last year's diversion?

The TV and Film Guy's Reviews -- We're everybody's Milo.

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