My Name is Earl: Season 1
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Karma is a funny thing. Just ask Earl (Jason Lee), who's learning the hard way that when you do something bad, it has a way of coming back and biting you in the ass! Hoping to turn his life around, Earl's got a lengthy list of detestable deeds to make up for. Also starring Jamie Pressly, Ethan Suplee, Eddie Steeples and Nadine Velazquez, My Name Is Earl is wildly offbeat and hilariously irreverentthe #1 new comedy of the season!
The most original comedy since Arrested Development, My Name is Earl marked the launch of a lovable new loser. Earl Hickey (Jason Lee) sleeps all day and drinks all night. The pattern ends when he buys a "scratcher"--and wins $100,000. Seconds later, he's hit by a car and loses the ticket. While in the hospital, wife Joy (Emmy nominee Jaime Pressly) leaves him for Darnell the Crab Man (Eddie Steeples). Doped up on morphine, he's watching TV when Carson Daly says something about karma. Earl decides that's his problem: bad karma. He resolves to spend the rest of his life making up for all the harm he's ever done. In the pilot, Earl and brother Randy (Ethan Suplee) start by picking up litter around their motel (Joy got the trailer). While they're at it, Earl finds the lost ticket and collects his bounty. The plan is working! Along with comely maid Catalina (Nadine Velazquez), they set off to right more wrongs. Created by Greg Garcia and teamed with The Office, My Name is Earl put NBC back on the must-see comedy map. Unlike most sitcoms, it drops the studio audience in favor of flashbacks, freeze frames, first-person narration, and extensive So-Cal location work. A soundtrack heavy on blue collar favorites, like Lynyrd Skynyrd, completes the picture.
Throughout the season, Earl gives an old girlfriend self-respect ("Faked My Own Death"), plans his ex-wife's big day ("Joy's Wedding"), and makes up for the birthday he ruined ("Monkeys in Space"). First year guests include Brett Butler ("White Lie Christmas"), Juliette Lewis ("The Bounty Hunter"), and Emmy nominee Jon Favreau ("O Karma, Where Art Thou?"). Giovanni Ribisi and Beau Bridges also stop by as, respectively, Earl's pal Ralph and father Carl. Speaking of originality, "Dad's Car," which takes place during Mother's Day, features commentary from the mothers of Lee, Suplee, Garcia, and director Marc Buckland. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Stills from the First Season of My Name Is Earl (click for larger image)
- Commentary by creator Greg Garcia, stars Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee, and others on 5 episodes
- Commentary by the mothers of Greg Garcia (Natalie Garcia), Marc Buckland (Mary Buckland), Jason Lee (Carol Lee) and Ethan Suplee (Debbie Suplee) on the episode Dad's Car
- Exclusive Earl Mis-Adventure "Bad Karma"
- "Karma Is A Funny Thing" Blooper Reel
- "Making Things Right: Behind The Scenes Of My Name Is Earl" featurette
- Deleted Scenes
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In the series finale of "Quantum Leap," Sam is engaged in conversation with a bartender who somehow knows about all the leaping he's done, who says to him, "At the risk of over inflating your ego Sam, you've done more. The lives you've touched, touched others. And those lives, others! You've done a lot of good Sam Beckett. And you can do a lot more." As I watch MNIE, I can't help but remember that, and enjoy watching as the town of Camden improves slowly in a similar manner. When I think of that, I can't help but hope that people watched this show and were similarly inspired; maybe not to make a list or obsess over karma, but maybe just to put right a little of what they've done wrong. I don't know if our culture has always been as nasty as it is, but it's pretty nasty. We could use more role models like Earl.
As bittersweet and upbeat as the show could be, it doesn't hurt that Earl's list items tend to be hilarious. When he talks about it, the details always reveal that the old Earl made a habit of audacity. In "The Professor," Earl talks about the list to a class of students in an ethics/philosophy course at the community college, and we're treated to a montage of out-of-context statements like "... well, the Air Force figured I was too drunk to remember what I had seen, but as you all now know, that was not the case." I'm not sure how anyone could not love this show.
Consider the premise: deeply flawed man decides to go straight and turn his life around. He's not ordered to by the courts, his family isn't after him to do it, and he's skating through life well enough to be mostly content. No, he just up and decides to do it one day in a pain-killer induced haze after losing a $100,000 lottery ticket (he thinks karma, as explained by Carson Daily, caused him to lose it). This is somewhat similar to my own life when, after having my wisdom teeth pulled, I spent two days recovering from the anasthetic and made up my mind to change high schools for my second senior year (don't ask). Like Earl's choice, mine turned out to be a pretty good one!
His mind made up to get a better life, Earl makes up a list, checks it twice, and sets out to go from naughty to nice (forgive me). The entire series then centers around his efforts to make up to the people he's wronged. This might include, as it does in the first episode, something fairly shallow ("I gotta get him laid!"), to something more deep, like trying to recover an old car he'd told his father was destroyed. The results of that effort end with one of the more touching episodes in the series.
This first season contains many great episodes. It's the best so far, though My Name Is Earl - Season 2 is just about as good. The third season... well, the first two were great, and hopefully season four will rock!
This DVD set includes all the episodes of the first season, some deleted scenes, plenty of commentary and a wonderful "Mirror Universe" episode of the show with special guest stars Brian and Stewie Griffin!
If you haven't caught an episode of the show yet, please do. It's worth seeing, and buying on DVD. For a series like this, there's so many, many ways this series could've ended badly, but thanks in large part to an excellent cast and some very tight writting it's far better than it should be. I love the fact that so many of the supporting characters return through out the season (Patty the Daytime Hooker is one of my favorites), and that we get to see some of the long-term consequences of Earl's actions. I like that about the show. It gives it some nice continuity lacking in most sitcoms.
Besides, where else will you have someone ask a woman about her mother and have her say, "Oh, my mother is dead." Then when offered condolences she just shrugs and says, "It was her or me."
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