Friday, November 2, 2007

It's that time of year again...

I'm talking November sweeps on TV. To that end, last night's episode of My Name is Earl was a special "hour-long" two-parter (oh god, no--please stop with the one hour sitcom episodes!). At least it was written as two parts--but it played like a long, tedious one. Remember how cute that COPS inspired episode of Earl was last season? Well, the writers went back to that well again--apparently our favorite trailer trash types had ANOTHER episode of COPS, circa July 4, 2002 (do they run repeats from that far back?). This time around though, it just felt like a sad retread of last season's episode.

This time around, Earl and Randy steal fireworks and electronic equipment from the Camden County fair leading the dim-witted police to jump to the conclusion that they were taken by terrorists for some 9/11 type bombing. Did the producers of COPS wait five years to air this show? Because any dumbass watching it would have known that Joy and Darnell were having an affair. So we had Randy falling into the cotton candy machine and having his head encased in cotton candy ("Cotton candy--the deadliest snack!" intones one of the cops), a lamb being shot when a cop's gun goes off accidentally (I had to put down a rabid lamb!), Kenny making homoerotic overtures to the officer he's riding along with, Darnell's grandmother hopping bushes clad in her nightgown, an infrared camera highlighting genital hot spots and a big fireworks display at the end. Well, the fireworks were fun anyway...

At one point the name of "Tim Stack" comes up in the show with Randy goofily saying how he wants to set Tim Stack on fire. Tim Stack wrote last night's episode and after watching it I have similar sentiments. Ugh.

Last night's episode of The Office was only a half hour, but still not quite as sharp as it usually is. It featured the return of Stamfordite turned Scrantonite and Jim's ex-girlfriend Karen, who is now Regional Manager for the Utica branch. The show was about Karen's attempt to hire Stanley away from Scranton. Michael asks Stanley what he can do to keep him (We can't lose the hilarious black guy!) to which Stanley keeps replying, "Money." Michael tries to offer Toby to Karen in Stanley's place or steal her best salesmen. Faced with the possibility of losing Stanley, Michael and Dwight set off with a clueless Jim to prank (if firebombs count as "pranks"...) the Utica office and teach Karen a lesson about poaching Scranton employees.

Meanwhile, back at the office, the Finer Things Club has a meeting. An exclusive group limited to Pam, Toby and Oscar--who says that, "Besides having sex with men, the Finer Things Club is the gayest thing about me." Their attempt to eat fine food, discuss literature and listen to classical music in the snackroom is thwarted by Kevin pounding a vending machine, Phyllis making microwave popcorn and Andy trying to insinuate his way into the "club"--it all being part of his social climbing plan--the Finer Things Club, the Party Planning committee as back-up and Kevin's band as a fall back. Oh, the cultural options in Scranton!

The Utica prank doesn't quite go as planned--with Dwight and Michael accidentally destroying an industrial copier. Still, Jim did manage to get them to promise not to bomb anything--by agreeing to wear the "disguise." An overzealous Dwight still wants to cause mayhem by poking or blowing dust in security guard's eyes--"The eyes are the groin of the head!" Karen recognizes Jim waiting in the car--even with the fake mustache!--and the trio are called upon the carpet. The big Jim/Karen showdown was a bit of a letdown in my opinion. Too bad.

A defeated Michael comes back to the office and sadly informs Stanley that he failed and that Stanley can leave. He starts to dictate a want ad to Pam: "Middle-aged black man for sales position. Big butt, bigger heart..." but is interrupted by Stanley who tells him he's not leaving. Apparently the Utica job was a bluff--which Michael unwittingly called--to get a raise. To assuage Jim's embarrassment over the Karen meeting, Pam offers him membership in the Finer Things Club--to Andy's outrage!

Ugly Betty's contribution to November sweeps was an episode interspersed with musical numbers from the show Wicked--the Broadway musical Henry and Betty attend for their first date. Of course, chaos ensues as Betty has to lie to an overprotective Daniel about dating Henry because Daniel threatens to fire him to prevent Betty from being hurt again. She tells Daniel that she's dating Gio--so when Daniel scores Wicked tickets for her, he gives them to Gio. Gio will only give Betty one ticket for the show, keeping the other one for himself. Betty tells him he can keep both--she's not going to Wicked with him. But she manages to get two more tickets from the evil Amanda.

So Betty and Henry are off to see Wicked, but run into Gio who has brought his little sister to see the show. If this weren't annoying enough, Daniel shows up with a cougar client (played by a hot looking Marlo Thomas) he's trying to woo for advertising dollars--and he's sitting next to Betty! So Henry has to sit with Gio's little sister while Betty pretends to be with Gio. They finally sneak off to be alone together, but somehow manage to be standing on an apparatus that is part of the stage scenery and it descends towards the stage--revealing Betty and Henry as a couple to everyone, including Daniel. Daniel tells Betty she's being stupid and Betty is afraid he's right. But Hilda encourages Betty to be with Henry, saying that if she had a chance to be with Santo again she'd do it in a heartbeat--even if it would be painful when he's gone.

Secrets and lies were the theme of this episode with Hilda not telling her family that she was fired from Bumble and Bumble and instead is working at an even lower-class Hooter's knock-off called Highbeams. Justin and Ignacio conspire to buy her a salon chair so she can start her own business on the porch. Cutie photographer Cliff was back again--but Marc is embarrassed to acknowledge that he's his boyfriend which leads Cliff to dump him, which leaves him heartbroken. Wilhelmina has to deal with wedding planning issues--such as the fact that she needs to GAIN six lbs. to fit into her wedding dress and her daughter Nico bagging on being her bridesmaid. Willie finds a replacement in none other than Victoria Beckham. Daniel manages to score ad dollars from the cougar, possibly saving Mode from financial ruin. And Betty follows her heart and not her head and goes to Henry--and the episode ends in a passionate kiss.


  1. Yay, I love your recaps! Earl did not need to be an hour. And the Karen/Jim interaction hurt.

  2. Earl didn't need to be a complete rehash of a cleverer episode from last season, either. Seriously, doesn't he still have at least a hundred things left on his karma list--plus a new one that he started in prison?

    The Jim/Karen interaction was realistically painfully. Should have been painfully funny.