Friday, November 02, 2007

My Name Is Earl: Tim Stack, Tim Stack, set him on fire...

Spoilers for "My Name Is Earl" coming up just as soon as I get the number of Eddie Steeples' personal trainer...

The original "Our 'Cops' Is On" was easily my favorite "Earl" episode ever, 30 minutes of anarchic gags and unfettered Bad Earl. The sequel, unfortunately, was twice as long and maybe half as good.

There were a number of funny gags -- my favorites were the infra-red erections and everyone rushing to get their hands off the hooker after she started talking about keeping babies -- but a lot of the hour was either placed on the backs of less-funny recurring characters (the cops) or seemed too concerned with digs at post-9/11 patriotism and paranoia, and with "Earl" continuity jokes. (And speaking of which, how did Nescobar-A-Lop-Lop speak English so well before he took Earl's remedial English class? I know he's always been fluent in Mandarin, but I thought English was new to him.)

Unlike those hour-long "Office" episodes, this one had different writers for each half -- Tim Stack (author of the original "Cops" parody) for the first, Vali Chandrasekaran for the second -- and the non-Stack half was the funnier of the two. When the original "Cops" episode aired, I wrote that it felt like the writers had been saving up all these jokes about pre-karma Camden County for just such an occasion. At the very least, it seems that Stack was, though his on-camera appearances remain hilarious.

One of the better "Earl"s of this season, but like most sequels to the classics, it was bound to come up short of the original.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

I usually like Earl (heck I even wrote a spec Earl script) but I thought this episode was a complete misfire. I didn't laugh at all. It was too long and I was bored before the first half hour was up.

It seems like the writing is just getting raunchier instead of funnier. And the characters are getting more annoying and less likable.

Get back to the list.

Edward Copeland said...

I thought it had a fair share of laughs, but it didn't need to be an hour. It's the first time I felt a little let down by the show, which for me has just grown better and better the longer it's gone on.

Anonymous said...

Too rambling and repetitive to live up to its classic predecessor, and the attempted heart tug with the fireworks just fell flat.

Though I did love the revelation that the cop knew Kenny had been macking on him and was tempted by the offer. It was one of the best displays at the off-kilter acceptance of eccentricity that the show excels at. And the bit that provided your title was my biggest laugh of the night, mostly for Earl's standard cock-headed, bemused smile as his brother and the convict sang of setting a celebrity aflame.

Anonymous said...

It was an OK episode, and I liked the payoffs with Tim Stack and the stolen bumper car, but there was a lot of continuity problems (Nescobar Aloplop speaking English, Kenny making a pass at the cop, the freakshow midget being out in public) and I was really tired of it going from the fair to the trailer park to the strip club constantly. And how can a half hour episode of copes take up 95 percent of an hour episode of Earl?

Also, shouldn't Crabman have been avoiding the Cops cameras, what with his standing in the Witness Relocation Program?

I will be interested to see if they bring back the same actor who was the fat cop (and one of the dock workers at Earl's job last season) to play his twin sister at the fat women's dress shop.

I think I would have liked it better if they had given a little more time and creativity to the lack of respect Randy got from the prisoners. He got tripped, and the fat guy swallowed the TV knob, but I wasn't feeling it.

Anonymous said...

My favorite moment was the 30 Rock commercia at the end....

Anonymous said...

It's really too bad the writers didn't go on strike before penning this turkey. Not only were the jokes not funny, it seemed to me the actors knew the jokes weren't funny. It felt like they were just going through the motions. I'd rank this one among the weakest episodes of the series, if not the weakest. What a disappointment.

Anonymous said...

My wife and I gave up on "Earl" several weeks ago. Honestly, I can't stomach the character of Randy. He's so annoyingly stupid, it's just not that funny.

Unknown said...

Oh wait. That wasn't an episode of Reno911?

Anonymous said...

Randy is one of the more tricky characters on TV, because on some level he is basically a sociopath/psychopath held in check only by Earl. There was an episode in season 1 in which Randy voiced a willingness to murder someone in support of Earl's karma mission. It was a really odd moment, and I don't remember which episode it was, unfortunately.

Anonymous said...

I still have an odd fondness for this show -- it's almost a guilty pleasure, actually -- and yet this episode didn't work for me at all. It was too long, too contrived and not particularly funny, with only a few exceptions (the "Hands on a Hard Body" parody, for instance).

I'm all for shows like Earl stepping into new directions in order to avoid creative inertia, but this episode seemed like such a do-over of the orignal "Cops" episode that it just felt tired and warmed-over.

kensington, I really liked your argument that Randy is essentially a sociopath held in check by Earl and others around him. I'm not entirely sure I agree -- Randy's got a core of goodness (or at least kindness), which would tend to exempt him from sociopathy -- but it's still a heck of an insight.

Anonymous said...

I loved the original "Our Cops is On", too - I still have it saved on my Tivo. I will NEVER erase it if I can possibly help it. It's one of my favorite half hours of comedy tv in recent memory (Michael Scott grilling his foot is the absolute favorite).

I liked this episode, though. Not as much as the first one, but it was still decent. It may have been better served being 40 minute super-sized though.

Anonymous said...

Watched this episode again today
to see if time had made it funnier.
Hmm,not really.

The first "Our Cops Is On" was
brilliant. Patty the Daytime Hooker
has a master's degree?!?

The second one fell flat with the
9/11 story lines. I did like the
"you may know it as a scooter" and
"It was supposed to go to Camden,
New Jersey..but it's every town
for itself!" lines.

Only other thing that made me
smile was TV's Tim Stack in his
Son of the Beach outfit dancing
and singing Surrey with the Fringe
on the Top.

I really wish the writers hadn't
gone to the well a second time on