My Name Is Earl: Season One

My Name Is Earl: Season One
There almost wasn’t a moustache; without it, there would be no show. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration but the My Name Is Earl creators prevailing over moustache-gate - in which the studio finally relented over star Jason Lee’s facial hair at the 11th hour - demonstrates their commitment to this unusual sitcom. Earl (played brilliantly by Lee) wins the lottery but is plagued by bad luck, which he figures is karma - he seeks to right his life’s wrongs in order to balance the scales. Lee is the show’s backbone but his trashy ex-wife Joy - authored to absolute perfection by former Playboy model Jaime Pressley - is the breakout star. At first, it seems like Earl is a one-note concept unsustainable over 24 episodes, much less several seasons, but it’s the depth of Earl’s world, not the logic of his karmic quest, that makes Earl one of the best sitcoms on TV (not that that’s saying much). Lee manages a tricky balance between a plausible criminal past and a real commitment to change, even as the show maintains the number one rule of TV comedy - true, fundamental change is impossible. The first season DVD equals the show’s commitment to quality, throwing new Earl adventures (reverse concept "Bad Karma,” in which he seeks revenge for being wronged), blooper reels, an insightful "making of” and some charming cast interviews, including the revelation that Pressly got the role on one line reading and it was, "Who’s the whore?!” (To hear her say it is to know Joy.) For all that casual fans lamenting the dearth of quality television, this could have been a review of a late, great, shortened Complete Series box. Fortunately, NBC’s sitcom fortunes are in the tank and Earl lives to self-improve another day. Plus: select commentaries, more. (Fox)