I've decided that I'm cursed when it comes to my favorite shows on TV getting the axe before they're completely resolved. 'Pushing Daisies,' one of the best TV shows ever, got canceled before its time. 'Arrested Development,' some would argue, was done away with far too early. Now we have 'My Name is Earl.' For years it's lived in the shadow of the ever popular 'The Office.' As my interest in 'The Office' waned over the years as they've strayed from what made it a lovable show, my love for 'Earl' stayed strong. Some nights I would tune into NBC just to see 'Earl' and turn it off before 'The Office' ever came on. When the news came that NBC was canning 'Earl' it left me heartbroken, especially since the fourth season ended with such a cliff hanger.
Earl (Jason Lee) believes in karma. In his past life he was a bad person, now, in order to make up for his past wrongs, Earl has made a list of everything he's ever done wrong to people. The rest of the show is him going about helping people that he once wronged.
Except for the third season, where Earl spent most of the time in jail, the show stayed fairly true to form. In my opinion the third season and a ridiculous coma story spelled the end for the show. In any case, Earl was extremely heartfelt and had some lovable, colorful characters and zany story lines. It had a formula, but the formula worked. The show was at its best when Earl stuck to his list and helped the people around him out. The fourth season brought back that proven formula and worked it to perfection.
The fourth season finds Earl helping Randy locate his childhood sweetheart, giving his ex-wife Joy (Jaime Pressley) a hot tub infected with a flesh eating virus, and dealing with a local homicidal "witch" played by Betty White. The charm of 'Earl' came from juxtaposing the sincere situations where Earl bettered people's lives with the backdrop of the low income, white trash fictional community of Camden County. During the season we see Earl working harder and harder to become a part of a loving family.
The supporting cast was one of the best ensembles on TV. No one plays white trash better than Jaime Pressley. Ethan Suplee as Earl's younger, and infinitely dumber, brother was hilarious. Rounding out the cast of regulars was Eddie Steeples as the calm, collected Darnell aka Crab Man. 'Earl' also used its guest stars to perfection. Erik Estrada hosting his own reality TV show called "Estrada or Nada," Seth Green as a hyper active wannabe movie producer, and David Arquette as an amnesiac stunt man who wakes up everyday thinking it's the day for his big stunt.
I suspect that only fans will be interested in buying this fourth and unexpectedly final season. It’s hard to recommend a later season of a now canceled show to anyone but fans. Here’s hoping that the rest of the seasons of 'Earl' get the Blu-ray treatment at least.
This is one of the better TV show offerings on the Blu-ray format. The 1080p/AVC encode applied here is done with care. Compression artifacts, usually seen on discs tightly packed with episodes, are nowhere to be found. The picture is clean when it comes to digital anomalies. Softness is a semi-regular occurrence throughout the season, but its occurrences are few and far between. An inherently colorful show, this transfer boasts a wide variety of colors that are presented vividly and distinctly. The primary colors, especially red and green pop off the screen. Fine detail, like the dirt and grime of a trailer park, is well done. Delineation is clean, and blacks are deep. Overall this is a very solid transfer especially for a TV show.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is sufficient, but not overly exciting. 'Earl' is loaded with dialogue, which is presented clearly through the front channels. Directionality is spot on. Depending on the episode the rear speakers generally create a nice ambient atmosphere like the comings and goings of a trailer park, or the drunken crowd at the Crab Shack. The subwoofer remains silent for the most part, but it comes to life for explosions and some of the soundtrack. This audio track is nothing that will blow your socks off, but it complements the show well.
Seeing as 'Earl' had already been canceled, I can see why little time or effort was put into the special features on this disc. For example there's not one audio commentary in this whole set. It's a tragedy, but so is the cancellation.
In the land of primetime TV nothing lasts forever, that's for sure (except maybe 'The Simpsons'). I’m sad to see 'Earl' go the way of so many shows before it, especially before it was through telling its story. Leaving the show on such an Alf-ian cliffhanger is just annoying.
This Blu-ray set does contain some nice PQ and AQ presentations. The fourth season brings 'Earl' back around to what made it a fun, loveable show in the first place. It brings back the heart that was missing in season three. It brings back the list in a big way, letting Earl do what he does best, fixing the lives of the people he screwed over in the past. 'Earl' was a truly unique show in story and in characters. Fans will want to add this set to their Blu-ray collection.
So long 'Earl.' Thanks for all the laughs!