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My Name Is Earl - Season 1 Review

My Name Is Earl

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 4 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary By Cast And Crew On ‘Pilot’, ‘Teacher Earl’, ‘Joy’s Wedding’, ‘O Karma, Where Art Thou?’, ‘Dad’s Car’ ‘The Bounty Hunter’ And ‘Number One’; Bad Karma – Exclusive Episode (With Commentary); Deleted Scenes; Karma Is A Funny Thing – Blooper Reel; Making Things Right: Behind The Scenes; Mobizzio.com; Soundtrack Promo

FROM its brilliant concept to its inspired casting, My Name Is Earl is one of the best comedies to emerge from America in quite some time.

Jason Lee has long been one of Hollywood’s most charismatic (yet under-appreciated) actors and his laidback charm is perfectly suited to the role of Earl Hickey, a Deep-South deadbeat whose life changes for the better when he wins $100,000 from a Lottery ticket that he stole – only to get immediately run over and watch the ticket drift away.

When a moment of kindness rewards him with the return of the ticket, Earl resolves to put ‘karma’ to the test and decides that if he does good things, karma will reward him in return. And so with his brother, Randy (Ethan Suplee), in tow, he draws up a list aimed at righting the wrongs of a previously mis-spent life.

The ensuing 24 episodes provided many inspired moments, as Earl attempted to atone for such things as faking his own death to get away from a girlfriend, costing his father (Beau Bridges) the local town election, not paying his taxes and depriving Randy of the chance to score a winning High School touchdown.

Created by Greg Garcia, My Name Is Earl succeeded in putting many smiles on faces when it was shown on Channel 4 on Friday nights and the release of the DVD ensures that many of Hickey’s finest moments can be relived time and time again.

As mentioned, Lee provided a terrifically amiable presence as Earl, who always remained likeable in spite of some terrible mis-deeds but he was cleverly surrounded by an equally memorable bunch of support characters.

Among them was Jaime Pressley as Earl’s bitter ex-wife Joy, who constantly strove to find ways to get her hands on the Lottery money, and Eddie Steeples as her impossibly chilled out stoner husband Darnell the Crab Man. Nadine Velazquez, meanwhile, provided an impossibly sexy presence as comely maid Catalina, who also helps Earl dish out good karma.

But arguably the show’s biggest asset was Ethan Suplee’s superb performance as Earl’s dim-witted brother, Randy, who walked off with most – if not all – of season 1’s best moments. The character of Randy was nothing short of comedy genius and his innocent observations, quirky phobias and bumbling demeanour made him one of TV’s richest creations.

An episode in which Randy reveals his fear of birds (Barn Burner) was particularly memorable, especially the sequence involving the ostrich, while his passion for dancing to a particular track (in the pilot) and re-discovery of fraternity life (The Professor) offered comic gems.

Season 1 also benefited from a number of guest appearances from Hollywood stars including Giovanni Ribisi, Adam Goldberg, Juliette Lewis, Geoffrey Lewis and (particularly memorably) Jon Favreau as an arrogant fast food manager – all of whom heightened the overall sense of enjoyment in some way.

My Name Is Earl wasn’t always as consistently laugh-out-loud funny as some sitcoms (Friends being a prime example), it seldom failed to leave you in a good mood and brightened up the Friday night viewing schedule.

For those who missed out, it’s a treat just waiting to be discovered and we can’t wait for the second season to catch up with the continuing exploits of Earl and Randy.