Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My Name's not Earl

My daughter just received her cosmetology license. Don’t worry, my likeness at left is not a result of her training. While she was in school, I would serve as a practice pad for various phases of her education, like haircuts and pedicures. Gotta admit, getting one's feet softened and nails clipped without bruising one's chin on one's knees has a certain appeal when you’re north of 50. Last night she treated me to a treatment, and I was a captive audience to the TV for three-quarters of an hour.

I learned a couple of things sitting in the chair last night: My daughter has a bright future ahead of her so long as people want someone else to clip their toes. And network TV is pretty bleak in the evenings. Are they connected? I hope not, because while my feet felt great, I felt a little dumber after watching TV.

“My Name is Earl” has been running trailers in the movie theaters the past few weekends…looked like a pretty entertaining plot line: Loser tries to reverse mistakes he’s made in his life, and in the process, gets into some socially-challenging situations, featuring the wrinkled moronics of Jason Lee. This is NBC Putting the “sit” in sit-coms.

So I watched last night’s show in which Earl’s ex-wife gets married and invites everyone but Earl to the wedding… which he, of course, crashes, and then tries to make up to his ex-wife, at which he also fails miserably, and tries to make up for… You get the idea.

This show does for the lower-middle class what “blaxploitation” films did for that demo in the 70’s—made all those who were taken in by the genre just a little less intelligent for the experience. The sad thing is that this is what some network TV entertainment has devolved to—poking fun at people who are too stupid to know any better.

I liked the premise—karma is a funny thing, which is an obvious play off of John Lennon’s “instant Karma’s gonna getcha!” The disappointment is that the writers went for the cheap and easy gags instead of developing the story line into something with more return for your investment of a half hour of viewing.

During “Earl” the network ran an ad for the program to follow, called “The Office.” I figured it was a take-off on “Office Space,” and with Steve Carell—a.k.a. Ron Burgundy from “Anchorman,” and “The 40-year old Virgin,” there might be some funny gags. It was like a bad mockumentary, with Carell’s character obsessing over a failed fling with his female boss in the parking lot of a Chili’s. I honestly felt dumber for the experience.

Guess I forgot—these shows aren’t on The Discovery Channel for a reason. At the Peacock Network on Tuesday nights, check your brain at the door.


Anonymous said...

Lighten up Francis

Byron said...

Nothing on television (or any other media for that matter) can make you less intelligent. The characters on Earl aren't stupid (most of them anyway), they just aren't another bunch of upper class college educated snobs like on 50% of other tv shows.

And what did you mean by that blaxploitation comment? Yes, it had too many low moments, but it was still our time to shine and show that we weren't going to be the shuffling servants of the golden age of white cinema. How dare you say such things?

Brent Clanton said...

Bryon--you seem to have missed the nuances in this piece, and completely went over the edge about the blaxploitation point. When you use "our," and "we", I assume you are black. If that was your time to shine, so be it.

In truth, blaxploitation story lines were a launching point, and thankfully, gifted actors and writers have transcended that era's version of blackface to create stories of meaning and significance in their portrayals of blacks--which this idiotic show does not.

I dared to call it to your attention--you're the one who took exception to the truth. How dare you?