"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Friday, March 16, 2007

My Name Is Earl: The Birthday Party

Earl Hickey has done a lot of good things over the past year. But he's got an enormously long list of bad things to cross off his list, and we've seen him add things he's forgotten or accumulate more misdeeds along his way to karmic balance plenty of times. So it shouldn't be any surprise that if you gather the residents of Camden County into one room, you're going to learn about a lot of things Earl's done that he's now sorry for.At first I thought this episode was going to be the old sit-com staple: the clip show. I'm glad I was wrong, but I'm not entirely convinced it was much better than a clip show.

Some of the funniest moments in My Name is Earl history have come in flashback sequences. They come when you least expect them and often seem somewhat surreal. Of course, Earl's flashbacks usually move the plot forward.But this time was a bit different.

As Earl tries to celebrate all the good things he's done during the last year, every person at his birthday party is there to remind him of more things he's done wrong. At one point, Earl asks his mom why people can't focus on all the good things he's done in the last year, and she replies that there have been a lot of bad years, and "There's only been one good year, Earl. I'm not sure we'd have enough to talk about."

Okay, so I settled in for a list of new items Earl needs to add to his list so that the show can live on for another few decades. He stole a bunch of hub cabs, rudely awakened Randy, swapped Darnell's pot brownies with his real brownies, paid Donnie Jones to peep and run, almost broke up his parents' marriage, and perhaps most devastatingly, left a guy with only one turntable and no microphone.

And then it turns out that the airing of the grievances was really just part of a big birthday surprise. Everyone planned to cross one thing off of Earl's list.

Well, first off, I'm not sure that's how karma works. And second of all, I want the last 22 minutes of my life back. I just don't feel like this episode really took us anywhere. It was like a collection of mini-episodes, where we learn about something Earl needs to make up for, but then we never see him make up for those things. I feel like we were cheated out of each of those episodes.

That's not to say this episode didn't have its laughs. After Darnell's clients pay $5 for the plain brownies, one complains of having to sit through dinner with his parents straight, while Donnie exclaims "I just listened to a whole Phish album, and it sucked!"

No comments: