Friday, October 5, 2007

Earl/Office Update

I guess I've finally learned how to program my VCR. It only took about 20 years--but I was able to watch last night's episodes of My Name is Earl and The Office in their entirety. A friend was supposed to tape Ugly Betty for me last night. If so, it will be the first time I've been able to watch all three without switching back and forth.

First off, Earl--another great episode. Greg Garcia and Co. seem to be having fun with Earl's incarceration. Like last week's episode which tipped its hat to The Shawshank Redemption, last night's installment owed its theme to Brokeback Mountain. But instead of two gay cowboys, you had the Romeo and Juliet (or rather--Hector and Jamal) love story of two inmates who are the leaders of rival gangs.

Since Earl can't work on his list while he's in prison, the writers have come up with a new and neat conceit--if Earl can help the prison warden (played by a deftly deadpan Craig T. Nelson), he gets time lopped off his sentence. One month off if he gets the two rival gangs to stop fighting. Obviously this won't be Earl's only task and I can see him getting out of his original two year sentence by the end of this season. Funniest line of the show--the warden in his infinite ineptness has the prisoners manufacturing ladders--which many use to scale the electric fence and escape. Earl says that no-one bothers to mention the 740 prisoners that DIDN'T escape. "You're a prison half-full kind of guy!," the warden exclaims, "I like that!"

Meanwhile Randy's pining for his big brother leads him to come up with a scheme to land himself in prison. But since he has trouble getting arrested, he decides to get in by another route--become a prison guard. He takes the test and scores only 55%. The highest score ever! I'm waiting for the outrage and protests from the association of prison guard and whatnot--like how Filipinos reacted to the joke about "a medical degree from the Philippines" on Desperate Housewives Sunday night. I haven't seen any news about irate prison guards. Perhaps they have thicker skins...

The episode ended with Earl reuniting the star-crossed Hector and Jamal--and Randy being reunited with Earl as he gets a job as a prison guard where Earl is serving time. I still haven't seen where they filmed in my neighborhood a while back. I think it was part of the whole we are the world, "Free Earl" thing, but whether that's part of an episode or just a web promotion thing remains to be seen...

The Office was another hour-long episode. John Maynard at Channel This mused that he thinks the show works better in half-hour format. I tend to agree. Last week's episode seemed a bit uneven. This week--well, it's hard to say. I got home at 9:30 pm and was surprised to see the show was still on. So I watched the second half until the end, then rewound my VCR and watched Earl and then the first half of The Office. Surprisingly it still worked for me. It was like part one and part two with Earl sandwiched in between. Next week's episode is also an hour--are we getting twice as much Office but only half as many episodes this season?

Anyway, Ryan is now the big boss and has come back to Scranton to present the new Dunder Mifflin business plan. Younger, faster, more efficient. Of course, this is upsetting to most of the office who are older, slower and set in their ways. Most notably, Michael is indignant and charges Ryan with "ageism"--a term he learned only moments earlier from Jan. So Michael and Dwight set off to prove that the old ways of business are better than the new--in this case gift baskets will beat out websites and lower prices any day of the week. And when Michael's GPS equipped rental car leads them to drive straight into Lake Scranton, Michael's resistance to new ways is official.

Funniest moment--an unhinged Michael reclaiming a gift basket and baying, "Where are the turtles?" to a startled former client. Classic.


  1. As much as it pains me to admit, I agree about The Office. I was looking forward to the hour-long episodes because I have typically enjoyed the "oversized" ones of seasons past. That isn't to say that I haven't enjoyed parts of these last two episodes but I've also been bored during portions of them as well.

    My funniest moment was Jim's quiet smugness over Ryan not being able to get any woman he wants. However, your funniest moment is a close second along with Michael's claim that technology is about trying to murder you in a lake.

  2. I agree--any Jim moment ranks among funniest moments for me. I loved when he first went to the Stamford branch and Karen was talking about him to the "documentarians" and said "And he's always making this face at the camera (imitates famous Jim face)..what's THAT about?"

    And I laughed out loud--really loudly (enough to startle the neighbors...) when Michael drove the car into the lake.

  3. Earl is growing on me. I'm just not sure if I want him in jail all season long.

  4. I think the writers will have ways to make Earl's incarceration interesting. Now that they've got Randy in proximity and the incentive of doing good things to shorten his sentence, they're pretty much back to the original "list" format.

    I love this show. I love the relationship between Earl and Randy, I love Crabman's optimistic outlook and most of all, I love Jaime Pressly's sassy Joy.