Never Judge a show by it's pilot.
My Name Is Earl: Tuesday Night 9:00 PM NBC.
I have to say a few comments about My Name is Earl before I even see the pilot.
Every time a long running sit-com goes off the air (last season it was Everybody Loves Raymond) someone announces that, "The sitcom is dead." Trust me the sitcom is not dead.
When Desi Arnaz created I Love Lucy he described his idea simply. We are going to film a stage play in front of a live audience with three cameras. Somewhere down the line we forgot that the plays are the thing. Lately instead of a plot we have strung together one-liners, zingers and sexual innuendoes. When we go back to the art of storytelling and show that the comedy should come from the situation you will see that the sitcom is very much alive.
There are also single camera sitcoms, like My Name is Earl that is not shot in front of an audience. Instead of shooting a play this is more like shooting a 22-minute movie. Over the years some of the most popular shows in television history were single camera sitcoms including
The Andy Griffith Show (Celebrating it's 45 anniversary this year), M*A*S*H and the first couple of seasons of Happy Days. Back then single camera sitcoms were required to use a laugh track (Although M*A*S*H* did not use the laugh track in the operating room).
Did you notice that 3 of the 5 listed single camera sitcoms were on FOX? FOX also had another single camera sitcom called Oliver Beene that aired from 2003 to 2004. I have been told that this funny show failed not because it was a single camera sitcom, but because it was set in 1962 and period shows don’t do well (That '70s Show HELLO!). When FOX was in fourth place they took some creative risks and aired single camera sitcoms when the "Big 3" networks wanted to stick with the traditional three camera format. Now that NBC is in forth place, it's time for them to take some creative risks.