The most original comedy since Arrested Development
, My Name is Earl
marked the launch of a lovable new loser. Earl Hickey (Jason Lee) sleeps all day and drinks all night. The pattern ends when he buys a scratch card--and wins $100,000. Seconds later, he's hit by a car and loses the ticket. While in the hospital, wife Joy (Emmy nominee Jaime Pressly) leaves him for Darnell the Crab Man (Eddie Steeples). Doped up on morphine, he's watching TV when Carson Daly says something about karma. Earl decides that's his problem: bad karma. He resolves to spend the rest of his life making up for all the harm he's ever done. In the pilot, Earl and brother Randy (Ethan Suplee) start by picking up litter around their motel (Joy got the trailer). While they're at it, Earl finds the lost ticket and collects his bounty. The plan is working! Along with comely maid Catalina (Nadine Velazquez), they set off to right more wrongs. Created by Greg Garcia and teamed with The Office
, My Name is Earl
put NBC back on the must-see comedy map. Unlike most sitcoms, it drops the studio audience in favor of flashbacks, freeze frames, first-person narration, and extensive So-Cal location work. A soundtrack heavy on blue collar favorites, like Lynyrd Skynyrd, completes the picture.
Throughout the season, Earl gives an old girlfriend self-respect ("Faked My Own Death"), plans his ex-wife's big day ("Joy's Wedding"), and makes up for the birthday he ruined ("Monkeys in Space"). First year guests include Brett Butler ("White Lie Christmas"), Juliette Lewis ("The Bounty Hunter"), and Emmy nominee Jon Favreau ("O Karma, Where Art Thou?"). Giovanni Ribisi and Beau Bridges also stop by as, respectively, Earl's pal Ralph and father Carl. Speaking of originality, "Dad's Car," which takes place during Mother's Day, features commentary from the mothers of Lee, Suplee, Garcia, and director Marc Buckland. --Kathleen C. Fennessy