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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

My Name is Earl, Bones and the Lost premiere

September 28, 2005

So much to talk about, so little space. Such is the plight of the television critic. The good news is that entertaining, scripted television is back. The bad news is that you can’t possibly make time to watch all these fantastic new shows for an entire season.

But don’t worry, Tubers. I’m burning up my DVR sorting through the best and worst for you. I’ll be choosing a couple shows each week to recommend, so you can have a life.

Here are this week’s picks:

My Name is Earl – Four stars. Last season, I gave four stars to only two new shows. One of them, Jack and Bobby, was cancelled. The other one, Lost, became a monstrous hit. (Pun intended.) So, with only a 50 percent success rate, I’m a little hesitant to gush about My Name is Earl. That said, this is the funniest sitcom I’ve seen in four years.

For those of you with no experience in redneck culture, meet Earl Hickey. For those of you with redneck roots, you’ll be nodding your head in recognition, thinking of your neighbors or the guy you see at the convenience store at 10 a.m. buying beer, cigarettes, and a lottery ticket. Be warned: watching Earl can be painful. Your face may actually ache from laughing so much. The best part is that Earl isn’t the typical canned-laughter sitcom inherent to NBC. It’s original and in some ways, sweet.

The theme is karma. Earl won the lottery, got hit by a car, and lost his winning ticket. With talk-show host Carson Daly as his inspiration, Earl sets out to right his past wrongs with the belief that if you do good things, good things will happen to you, and if you do bad things, well, you’d better take cover in a lightening storm.

I’ve seen people like Earl Hickey. It’s sort of inevitable with my redneck roots. So, I can assure you that this sitcom doesn’t come across as mean-spirited ridicule. It’s humorous and self-deprecating, without being demeaning. But most of all, it’s good, plain fun.

Here’s a sample of Earl’s humor, after his estranged, adulterous wife demands half of his lottery winnings: “Yeah, well, I wanted a legitimate baby and a wife who didn’t huff paint on Thanksgiving.”

Enjoy. The show airs at 9 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC.

Bones – Three stars. Loyal Tube Talk readers know I’d pretty much watch David Boreanaz read the phone book. Luckily, this entertaining show gives him much more to do than that.

As the lead actor in this forensic drama, he solves crimes as FBI agent Sealy Booth, while delivering hilarious one-liners with his signature aplomb. He’s teamed with forensic anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan (Emily Deschanel) who, of course, bristles at having to work with Booth. She’s more comfortable working with dead people, than the living.

Forensic science is a main player in this drama, too. Brennan and her team of forensic geniuses can actually reconstruct someone’s face in a cool, floating 3-d image with just skull fragments. The gadgets are cool. The ick factor isn’t over the top. And the chemistry between the two main characters is worthy of Scully and Mulder.

So Bones just happens to star one of my celebrity crushes, that’s not why I’m recommending it. The show is good, Tubers. Make no bones about it. Catch it at 8 p.m. on Tuesdays on FOX.

The Lost premiere:
How utterly amazing was the Lost season premiere? So absolutely amazing that I forgive the writers for crafting the entire hour without even so much as a glimpse of Sawyer. I barely missed him among all the Jack/hatch/Others drama.

My new theory is that Desmond somehow saved Sarah, even though the signs indicate he’s been quarantined in that hatch for the last 30 years, listening to The Mamas and the Papas and typing DOS commands on that 1980s computer.

After last week, we know that the characters are even more connected. Shannon’s father died in Jack’s emergency room from a car accident, as Jack worked to save Sarah. I still haven’t figured out the significance of those numbers, but they were cleverly littered throughout out the episode, from the time of death of Mr. Rutherford (8:15 p.m.) to the speed Desmond was riding on his stationary bike. (16 mph.)

With exploding dynamite, a hideous monster, whispering ghosts, and untrustworthy companions, Lost just keeps getting better. Hurley had the best line of the week, as he put the situation in perspective, "Life's not so bad, right? Sure the Others are coming to, like, eat us all, and every once in a while someone blows up all over you, but you do get to sleep in every morning."

If I’m ever stranded on a deserted island, I hope Hurley is there to keep my laughing. Well, and Sawyer, too, of course.

If you missed the premiere, you can catch it tonight at 8 p.m. before the new episode airs at 9 p.m. on ABC.

Originally published 9/28/05 in The Exponent Telegram newspaper.


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