Friday, November 9, 2007

Ice Cream on Earl, Birthday Pie on The Office and Wedding Cake for Ugly Betty

My Name is Earl got back on track last night with the return of Craig T. Nelson as the hapless prison warden. Earl gets another 5 weeks knocked off his sentence if he successfully manages the warden's Scared Straight program. Earl proceeds to audition his fellow prisoners to find three scary enough to keep the kids on the straight and narrow, but when he and Randy get into a fight over who's protecting who, sibling rivalry rears its ugly head and the closeness of the two brothers is sorely tested.

As a prison guard vs. Earl's prisoner, Randy has the upper hand and prevents Earl from going on the Scared Straight session by threatening to taser him. Randy and the three convicts, one of which is Frank, get to the school which announces their arrival with a banner reading, "Welcome Scary Convicts." The session goes so well, that Randy decides to buy the guys some ice cream. Frank is asleep in the van and there's no parking space to be found, so rather than double-park and get a ticket, Randy allows the two shackled prisoners to purchase the ice cream and bring it back to the van. Frank wakes up and when he hears what Randy did he tells him, "That's like letting a bull loose in a Chinese store!" Randy realizes his mistake and hurries off to intercept the other prisoners. But while they had no intention of running, Frank then had ample opportunity--and took it and took off. Now both Randy and Earl are in big trouble with the warden and have to work together to get Frank back. But will they be able to mend their relationship in time to accomplish that without killing each other?

But Earl isn't the only one whose patience is being tested--Joy is two weeks overdue and tired of being pregnant. She agreed to carry her half-sister Libery's baby to gain juror sympathy but now enough is enough. Especially since Liberty and her husband Ray-Ray incessantly hover over Joy to make sure she's taking care of their fetus. "No G-strings or canned cheese?" says Joy, "How'm I supposed to celebrate New Years?" Joy is sick of the pregnancy and of Liberty and Ray-Ray who she refers to as the "Nazi Gazpacho." She tries to induce labor by eating hot peppers, blasting loud music at her uterus, jumping on a trampoline and with a vacuum cleaner. After 5 and 1/2 hours of squatting doesn't budge the baby, she and Darnell head off for the hospital.

NBC was doing their "Green is Good" thing last night with episodes featuring the eco-message. On My Name is Earl, the warden tells Earl to incorporate a green message into his Scared Straight presentation to which Earl replies, "I'd just be wedging it in." And that's pretty much how it felt on the other episodes. At least the writers on Earl admitted it. Scrubs wedged it in as well, but 30 Rock fared better with a turn by guest star David Schwimmer as a fanatical spokesperson called "Greenzo."

The Office skipped out on "wedging" the green message into its show last night--unless you count Michael's wilderness adventure. Excluded from Ryan's camping trip for Dunder-Mifflin branch managers (He took Toby instead! Oh, the indignity!), Michael decides to go survivalist in the wilderness. He has Dwight drive him out with only duct tape and a knife (highlighted by a series of shots showing Dwight displaying all his hidden weaponry around the office) and even blindfolds himself so he won't know where he is. Dwight--as usual--pushes it further by beating Michael on the head with a shoe in hopes of causing him to lose consciousness. Michael refuses to be knocked out and so Dwight has to settle for spinning him in a circle while blindfolded.

Meanwhile back at the office, Jim is in charge. When faced with the unending stream of birthday parties planned by Angela, he makes an executive decision--one party to celebrate ALL birthdays. He thinks he has made a wise decision in eliminating the fuss, expense and horror that is a birthday celebration with Michael Scott--but the rest of the staff feels otherwise. Meredith wants devil's food cake, Creed (whose birthday it actually IS) wants pie, Andy votes for ice cream cake. And mushroom caps? Angela is at wit's end and tells Jim that there are no "magic party elves!" Jim finds himself identifying more and more with Michael, who as supervisor is constantly in the position of making unpopular decisions, and even starts sharing Michael's antipathy for the whiny Toby. When Phyllis accidentally calls him "Michael," that's the kicker. "Phyllis called me Michael. And I will always be haunted by that," he says.

Back in the forest, Michael tests his survival skills--unknowingly under the watchful eye of Dwight. He cuts his pants with the knife to make shorts, then reattaches the legs when it gets colder to make pants, then uses the material to create a tent. But when his foraging for food leads him to start to eat some poisonous mushrooms, Dwight--who had insisted that he would not interfere even if Michael is harmed or dying--runs out screaming and tackles him. The episode with Michael returning to the office in time to sing "Happy Birthday" to Creed.

On Ugly Betty, it's chaos and mayhem leading up to the big nuptials between Wilhelmina and Bradford--and it's all falling on Marc's shoulders. Cliff shows up at Mode while Marc is screaming into the phone at an errant vendor and tells him, "You're so hot when you go into head voice!" Marc and Cliff are so cute together. Even cuter than Betty and Henry who continue their secret relationship. But when Ignacio discovers Betty's duplicity, they have an argument which leads to Betty storming out, suitcase packed. At first she plans to stay with Christina, but Henry asks her to move in with him--which she does although she feels weird about it...

Victoria Beckham aka Posh Spice (who in my opinion looks more like "Scary Spice" with all the plastic surgery and makeup) shows up to be Willie's bridesmaid--and promptly steals her thunder and the spotlight from her. Wilhelmina retaliates by restyling Posh's Vera Wang bridesmaid dress into a smock-like shift, but the Spice Girl manages to transform even THAT into haute couture. Wilhelmina finally grabs back the spotlight when she locks Victoria in a room prior to the ceremony--but she has bigger problems than the media attention Posh is getting. Daniel, who has been ousted as best man by Bradford in favor of Alexis, has decided not to attend the wedding. When he shows up to deliver the rings to Bradford at Wilhelmina's suite, he finds Bradford is not there. But when he hears a toilet flush while Wilhelmina is with him, he wonders who is. Sticking around, he watches as bodyguard Dwayne leaves the suite.

He goes to Wilhelmina's office at Mode to try to find more evidence to use against her and prevent the wedding. While he's rifling through her drawers, Betty and Henry show up on their way to the Transit Museum instead of Ignacio's citizenship ceremony. Daniel explains to Betty his suspicions, but Betty doesn't reveal to him that she has proof of Wilhelmina's infidelity. While Henry waits for Betty, he sees the screensaver on her computer--pictures of him, but also of her family. Especially Ignacio. He forces Betty to attend Ignacio's ceremony, after which father and daughter make up and Ignacio tells Betty that Hilda told him about the deal she made with Wilhelmina to secure his way back into the country. Since he's now a citizen, Betty doesn't have to worry about her having him deported. And so Betty races to the church to shout out, "I object!" while Bradford and Wilhelmina stand at the alter. "We haven't gotten to that part yet," says the minister.

When Betty explains the situation to Daniel, he is hurt and betrayed and fires her for not telling him sooner. Daniel tries to warn his father and get him to call off the wedding, but without Betty's corroboration, he doesn't believe Daniel. While the ceremony is paused, Marc turns the spotlight on Amanda to entertain the guests--which she does with a hysterically inappropriate rendition of "Milkshake." It was no surprise that Becki Newton has a great set of pipes, she sang for last week's Wicked-theme promo ads. Bradford rejoins Willie at the alter to continue the vows, but keels over with a heart attack before he can say, "I do."

Also on last night's episode, Cliff shows up to the wedding looking very hot--which makes Marc jealous. He breaks up, but after a heart-to-heart with Amanda makes up with him. Christina's husband Stuart, who she abandoned five years ago, shows up. They also make up--in Faye's sex room. Christina finds a syringe and thinks Stuart has not changed his old addict ways, until he explains to her that he has a rare liver disease and needs $100k for treatment. Christina tells him to stay in New York--she'll find a way to get the money. All in all, a very satisfying Thursday night.


  1. 30 Rock and Earl definitely won in the kind of lame theme week. Go green and all...but come on.

  2. Now I thought Earl did a good job of "embracing the lameness." Can you just picture the meeting?

    NETWORK EXEC: We're doing a "Go Green" promotion. Try to incorporate an ecological theme into the show.

    GREG GARCIA: Uh--if we do that, it'll just seem like we "wedged" it in.

    NE: Just do it, OK?

    GG: OK.


    Warden: And during the Scared Straight seminar, try to work in some stuff about going green.

    Earl: Uh--if we do that, it'll just seem like we're wedging it in.

    Warden: Just do it, OK?

    Earl: OK.
    I thought Scrubs won the lameness award. 30 Rock wasn't too bad. Like when the globe caught on fire--global warming, get it? Heehee...