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TV Review: My Name is Earl – “Very Bad Things”

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During the regular season last year I only caught a couple of episodes of My Name is Earl. I enjoy Jason Lee in just about anything he does, but this show never really grabbed me. It had some funny bits, but the characters all seemed a little too dumb to be interesting and I kept myself busy with other things to watch much. 

This summer, or as I like to call it, The Summer of TV Addiction, I began watching it regularly and now add it to my ever growing selection of must watch shows.

The second season premier starts with Earl deciding to scratch off Joy from his list of things he must do to repent for his past sins. It seems he never agreed with her while they were married. In a series of flashbacks we see Earl take sides with everybody but Joy including Randy (who grabs the potato chips with his toes) and a lobster (who squirted Joy while she was cutting it up.)

Earl finally takes Joy's side by telling Darnell that he should throw Joy a surprise party even if she knows about it (thus ruining the surprise, argues Darnell.)

Joy decides to buy a “disappearing” TV after watching Britney Spears and K-fed use one on their show.

Unfortunately the TV is too big to fit inside the trailer and the store won’t take it back because there is gum inside the receipt. They attempt to watch the television outside in the yard, but the glare of the sun and motorcyclists keep them from it. After a rain the TV is completely ruined.

Joy again attempts to take the TV back. Declaring she is going to get her $3,000 back one way or another, she steals a truck from the store.

Joy tries to sell the entire truck (not what’s in the truck, mind you) to someone but he doesn’t bite due to the truck having the name of the store still written upon it. His friend, an Eastern European gal by the accent, says she’ll buy the truck, but when they arrive at Joy’s trailer, Darnell has landed the surprise birthday party a month early, scaring off the European.

Earl, still feeling generous, decides to help her unload the truck. They paint the name off it, then brilliantly decide to open the danged thing to see if the contents might be worth $3,000.

Oops, there is a man (a store employee) inside! After some thinking, they decide to order (in fake British accents, no less) the man to blind fold himself and run out of the truck when they open the door. He obliges but crashes into a tree, knocking himself out.

Earl and Joy load him into the truck, and drive off to a hospital. The truck runs out of gas along the way, and while Earl walks to get more fuel, Joy accidentally lets the man loose. She got hungry, you see, and opened the truck door looking for food. The man had taken off his clothes and stuffed them to look like he was unconscious, then whacked Joy on the head while she was looking at it.

Prompting the second best line of the episode, “Son of a bitch, he Ferris Bueller-ed me.”

Man, now in his underwear, is caught by Joy and Earl and Randy, but Randy sticks the man in the front of the truck, instead of the back, prompting him to take off with it.

During hot pursuit, Randy suggests they could cut out the man’s tongue in order that he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone who he saw. Realizing that he could still draw them he suggests they cut off his fingers, prompting the best line of the show, “At least he’s thinking, he can’t help it if he’s not good at it.”

Earl decides he has helped Joy enough and let’s the man escape. Joy is charged with stealing a truck and kidnapping and ends the episode in jail.

I read recently that the writers were going to focus more on the characters then with the list this season, and they seem to be off to a good start. Most of the episode had nothing to do with a list point, and in fact the only item on the list “take Joy’s side” was done with in a few minutes. Instead the episode moved forward from the general concept of that item.

Joy got a lot of screen and she ran with it. She’s always a funny character, but here she stole the best lines, played the best scenes and pretty much ruled the episode. It was a nice change of focus from the usual Earl/Randy relationship.

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