Almost every television series is bound to have a subpar season, especially if it is so great in the beginning. This usually happens when the writers try to do something different and stray too far away from a successful formula. But it will be hard to find another show that was hurt as much as My Name Is Earl with its third season; but what part did season four play in the show’s cancellation, though?
My Name Is Earl focuses on Earl Hickey (Jason Lee), a two-bit thief and petty criminal who is stuck in a nowhere life with his cheating wife Joy (Jaime Pressly) about to leave him for Darnell (Eddie Steeples), aka “Crabman.” To make matters worse, his slow-witted brother Randy (Ethan Suplee) still lives with Earl. Even when Earl finally has a stroke of luck and wins big on a scratch-off lottery ticket, he gets hit by a car and the ticket blows away. While in the hospital, Earl sees Carson Daly on television talking about karma, and decides that bad things keep happening to him because of all the bad things he’s done to others. So Earl makes a list of all those bad things and starts taking care of them one by one with the help of the winnings from his lottery ticket, which reappears after his first good deed.
The first season and the majority of the second season was mainly all about Earl setting things right with various people and crossing off all the bad things he has done in his life. The core cast also got their time to shine, but the show was at its best with Earl simply working his way down the “karma list.” So when season three departed from that formula so drastically, with Earl going to prison and other depressing storylines, things didn’t look good for the series. Fortunately, the majority of season four is more of Earl and Randy checking off things from Earl’s list. So all of the solid comedy that the first season gave us returns this season. Another major story arc involved Earl’s now ex-wife Joy and her current husband Darnel. They have enter witness protection and are dragged from one location to another until Darnel’s problems can be straightened out and they can return back to their Camden trailer park home.
One of the main positives of this series has been the core cast of Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, Eddie Steeples, and Nadine Velazquez, who plays motel maid Catalina. They have outstanding chemistry together. But there has also been lots of wacky “redneck” characters that support the main cast. This often leads to lots of guest stars, and this season is no different. Among the guest stars this season are Seth Green, Beau Bridges, John Amos, Jerry Van Dyke, David Arquette, Jane Seymour, Jenna Elfman, Jason Priestley, Erik Estrada, Morgan Fairchild, Joan Van Ark, Andrea Parker, Danny Glover, Betty White, Bernie Kopell, Geraldo Rivera, Michael Waltrip, and Burt Reynolds. This might seem like overload, but each and every guest star is able to play a memorable character that fits in well with the existing Earl world. Surprisingly, the best guest star might just be Geraldo Rivera and Erik Estrada who constantly make fun of themselves. It’s not all positive for the cast this season, though. There are times where their characters are written in such a away that it contradicts all that we have seen from them before. That is more of the fault of the writers of the show.
In the end, season three was too much of a departure from what made My Name Is Earl great to begin with. That season pretty much delivered the fatal death blow to the show, despite a strong fourth season. Season four was mostly more of the same good funny stuff that we saw in seasons one and two. It wasn’t quite as consistently funny as season one, but it was close. It’s a shame that series will never likely get a proper conclusion, but fans will be happy to know that at least My Name Is Earl went out on a high note.
Episode 1 – The Magic Hour
Joy’s latest con reminds Earl of a wish he stole from a dying child named Buddy, so ten years after that, he visits the kid’s mother, only to find out that Buddy is very much alive. Buddy has the vision of a movie, and he wants Earl to help him produce it.
Episode 2 – Monkeys Take a Bath
Earl takes on #87 on his list, “chased away Mum and Dad’s friends”, so he and Randy visit their parents to bring back their old friends. Soon they realize that back then a lot more was going on than children’s eyes can see.
Episode 3 – Joy in a Bubble
Earl gets a hot tub for Joy from a dubious source, and in return, Joy gets a toe infection from it, confining her to her home. Earl has to take over Joy’s role and do all the things she would normally do, which gives him some revelations about the Turners and his kids.
Episode 4 – Stole an RV
Earl wants to make up for a stolen and destroyed RV from a war veteran, while Joy hunts for the legend of Pigsquatch.
Episode 5 – Sweet Johnny
Earl wants to make up for sleeping with local stuntman Sweet Johnny’s girlfriend, while Joy feels the need to buy a gun.
Episode 6 – We’ve Got Spirit
Earl is reminded of another list item about Kenny James, specifically keeping him from his dream of cheerleading, so Earl wants to take him to Kimmi Himler’s Cheer Academy, but he soon finds out that it was not Kenny who wanted to become a cheerleader, but Randy. Meanwhile, Joy finds out that Dodge finds Catalina beautiful, so she wants to change her son’s mind and perception of “beautiful”.
Episode 7 – Quit Your Snitchin’
When Randy’s birthday is coming up, Earl gets him a new car, but it is stolen before he can present it to Randy. Apparently, Earl no longer falls under the code of criminals, that no criminal steals from another one. Now that he is treated as a “civilian”, he needs to decide whether to take the matter to the police and become a snitch.
Episode 8 – Little Bad Voodoo Brother
Earl plans a Halloween party for Dodge and Earl Jr, while Catalina’s nephew Oscar visits. This poses an opportunity for Randy to become the big brother he always wanted to be.
Episode 9 – Sold a Guy a Lemon Car
When a new neighbor moves in next door to Earl and Randy’s apartment, Earl is reminded of a scam he and Joy pulled on just that guy by selling him a lemon car, so Earl wants to make up for it. Meanwhile, Joy wants to win a science fair in order to get a necklace.
Episode 10 – Earl and Joy’s Anniversary
Earl remembers his first wedding anniversary and the events that finally lead to their break up, involving Earl’s cousin Blake and an invasion of killer bees.
Episode 11 – Nature’s Game Show
Earl loses his list when tornadoes blow through Camden County, and Catalina has a religious experience. Meanwhile, Joy is offended when Darnell tells her that he is smarter than her, so she wants to show him, who is really the smart one.
Episode 12 – Reading Is A Fundamental Case
Earl helps his old friend Raynard who lives in the wild.
Episode 13 – Orphan Earl
In this Christmas episode, Earl wants to make up for a scam he did before he found Karma, but he soon finds out that Joy is still running the scam he started.
Episode 14 – Got The Babysitter Pregnant
A young Earl gets his heart broken by the babysitter and swears revenge on her and her boyfriend. Now, Earl is older and wiser, so he decides to cross them off his list, but it may have terrible repercussions for Randy. Meanwhile, Joy loses Darnell’s pet turtle.
Episode 14 – Darnell Outed (Part 1)
Joy steals Randy’s audition for Erik Estrada’s reality show “Estrada or Nada”, but her public appearance has consequences for Darnell.
Episode 15 – Darnell Outed (Part 2)
In the aftermath of having his cover blown, Darnell must pack up and leave Camden. Meanwhile, Earl, Randy and Catalina discover a devastating truth within the post office.
Episode 16 – Randy’s List Item
When Randy loses his winning lottery ticket, he assumes the event to be a message from Karma, so he starts a list of his own. Meanwhile, Joy is not happy with her cover identity of the witness protection program.
Episode 17 – Friends With Benefits
When Mr. Turtle returns back to Earl, he wants to bring him back to Darnell. Meanwhile, Joy and Darnell have to adapt to a new lifestyle of their cover identities.
Episode 18 – My Name Is Alias
Darnell’s father Thomas comes looking for him in Camden only to raise Earl and Randy’s suspicions, as it turns out that he is the reason for Darnell being in the Witness Protection Program.
Episode 19 – Chaz Dalton’s Space Academy
Earl works on a list item that has to do with Chaz Dalton, his childhood hero. However, Chaz turns out to be somebody else. Meanwhile, Darnell tries to help Joy make friends using the internet and a site called “Buddybook”.
Episode 20 – Witch Lady
Earl works on a list item that deals with a crazy witch lady, but his plan backfires.
Episode 21 – Pinky
Earl helps Randy find his first love, Pinky.
Episode 22 – Bullies
Earl wants to make up for bullying young Wally back at Catholic school, but grown Wally turns out to be a giant. Meanwhile, Randy wants to overcome a bully of his own: Joy.
Episode 23 – Gospel
Earl wants to make up for stealing a reverend’s organ, but he finds out he owes him much more than just an organ. Meanwhile, Joy is involved in a lawnmower accident with Catalina.
Episode 24 – Inside Probe (Part 1)
News show “Inside Probe” investigated the disappearance of the Crab Shack owner. When Darnell is finally able to sign the release papers due to no longer being in witness protection, the show airs on TV after eight years, turning several Camden residents into murder suspects.
Episode 25 – Inside Probe (Part 2)
After Earl and Randy are proven innocent, “Inside Probe” explores other theories of former Crab Shack owner Ernie Belcher’s disappearance, among
Episode 26 – Dodge’s Dad
When Dodge wants his real father to appear at his school’s career day, Earl sees the opportunity to make up for ruining Dodge’s career day once, but in order to do that he needs to find Dodge’s real dad, much to Joy’s dismay.
The anamorphic widescreen 1.78:1 presentation has a transfer that is great-looking, with vivid and bright colors. The episodes are supported with English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround sound, with subtitles available in English, French, Spanish, and Portuguese.
Deleted Scenes –
There is 20 minutes worth of scenes that didn’t make the final cut of the season. Fans will probably enjoy these with a few more laughs, but nothing “must-watch.”
Gag Reel –
This runs 8 minutes and these bloopers are actually funnier than most you will watch.
“2 The Max” Movie Trailer –
This is a fake trailer for the 2 The Max movie from the film that was in the season premiere. Pretty funny.
“Earl’s Fan Mail” Featurette –
This runs 33 minutes and it’s hosted by Jason Lee. It features questions from fans that are read and answered by cast and crew members. Both entertaining and informative, and the only time you hear thoughts from the cast and crew about this season.
A lot better than season three, but season four wasn’t enough to save My Name Is Earl. Good way to go out, though, so if you started with this season it wouldn’t be totally bad. Overall a good comedy that will be missed.
20th Century FOX Home Entertainment presents My Name Is Earl: Season 4. Created by Greg Garcia. Starring Jason Lee, Ethan Suplee, Jaime Pressly, Nadine Velazquez, and Eddie Steeples. Running time: 579 minutes. Rated: NOT RATED. Released on DVD: September 15, 2009. Available at Amazon.com
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