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Earl Hickey: Primetime Prophet

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Watch My Name is Earl.
It’s great.

I say this as someone who:

a) hated Chasing Amy and found Jason Lee teeth-achingly annoying;
b) was prepared, in advance, to dislike most of this season’s new comedies, particularly the over-hyped ones;
c) was already put off by the fact that My Name is Earl was created by the Executive Producer of Yes Dear;
d) was disinclined to watch something that clashed with The Amazing Race and House;
e) is snarky, cynical and dismissive on a daily basis.

It seems that up here in Canada, we’ve been spared the obnoxious My Name is Earl marketing campaign that those of you south of the border have been subjected to. From the sound of it, this is a good thing. (Of course, this isolation doesn’t always work in our favour. When Superbowl rolls around, for instance, we Canadians hear a lot about those FABULOUS HILARIOUS SIDE-SPLITTING commercials which will air at half-time and become cultural reference points for weeks to come. That’s right, I said “hear about”. We don’t get to see them. We’ve got local commercials, for companies like Tim Horton’s (o! the Timbit) and Zellers (the lowest price is the law). Two years ago we did, however, get a good gander at Janet’s Nipplegate. So all is not lost.)

My point? Don’t let the ad-campaign-which-I-can-only-imagine put you off. Paired with The Office, Earl rounds out a fabbo hour of Tuesday night television on NBC. You can always tape House. And they’re replaying The Amazing Race on Sundays, aren’t they? At least, they are here. In Canada. Where we do things differently. (Where the lowest price is the law.)

For those of you who have been living in caves, My Name is Earl is about the white and trashy Earl Hickey. Left by his even whiter and trashier wife for her baby daddy, and adrift on a sea of petty crime, Earl’s life changes when he wins the lottery and loses the ticket. The accident that precipitates the latter lands him in hospital, where a chance viewing of Carson Daly sees Earl turned on to the concept of karma. Good begets good, bad begets bad. Abraham begets Isaac, Katie Holmes begets a miracle. And so on. From his hospital bed, Earl decides that he’s got to turn his life around and start righting wrongs. He makes a list of his trangressions and sets out to remedy them. His brother helps him. And a hotel maid. Oh yeah, and the lottery ticket makes it way back to him. Karma, you see?

It’s not just that the writing is sharp and the situations funny. It’s that such a sharp, funny show has such a feel-good premise and a positive message. While staying reasonably politically incorrect. Over at CBS, home of all things feel-good and positive, they must be green with envy. Or not. After all, they’ve got ummm Still Standing. And Yes, Dear. The quality stuff.

Pat Robertson? Pshaw! Doom and gloom and assassinations and creepy prayers for Supreme Court vacancies. I’ll take Earl’s version of a spiritual life any day. Do good things, and good will come to you. Do bad things, and… you get the idea. Much easier to grasp, and it makes the world a better place to boot. I urge you, gentle readers. Watch My Name is Earl. Tastes great, less filling, and it’s part of a healthy diet.


Plenty more tasty TV treats available at teletart’s place!

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  • Good take, teletart. And you’re right that Earl and The Office make a fantastic hour of comedy. I like your take on the sharp but feel good tone of the show as well. It’s kind of refreshing actually, as are the dazed, laconic, yet spot on performances of the entire supporting cast. Brother Randy continues to truly kick ass.

  • This show is wonderful. Glad I have multiple VCRs!