Jason Lee plays Earl, about as thorough a definition of “poor white trash” going. He’s not about petty theft, but life has thrown him some curveballs as well – neither of the children he is raising are his, for instance. When he hits it big on a scratch lottery ticket, he is promptly hit by a car and loses his ticket. Doped up on morphine in the hospital a talk show comment about karma acts as an epiphany, and he determines to turn his life around, righting all the wrongs he has committed. N… sooner does he put his plan into action when his ticket blows by his feet, and off he goes, along with layabout brother and attractive hotel maid, on a mission of goodness.
It’s a comedy, but there is no laugh track, and isn’t that a nice thing: a show that trusts its humour, and doesn’t feel it necessary to point out to the audience that there are jokes here. There are plenty, and the characters may be stereotypes, but they are pretty endearing ones at that.
The sound is 5.1, which is all well and good, but rather wasted on television fare such as this. The background score timidly pops in from the rear speakers from time to time, but there isn’t really very much to make you think “surround” here. The dialogue is clear, but does occasionally sound a little bit overmodulated. This isn’t bad enough to be a severe flaw, however.
The picture sure looks nice, however. The colours are very strong, as are the contrasts, flesh tones and blacks. Grain and edge enhancement are not issues. The image is sharp. The picture is, in a word, good enough to pass for theatrical quality, and for good measure is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen (a format one suspects Earl and company would find rather confusing).
As with the recently reviewed Desperate Housewives set, this is another case of an unusually generous set of extras by recent TV box set standards. No less than seven episodes have commentary tracks (with creator Greg Garcia and rotating roster of producers and cast members). The tracks aren’t earth shattering, but they are pleasant enough. Optional commentary tracks accompany the deleted scenes scattered over the discs. Disc 4 also has a blooper reel, a soundtrack promo, and a making-of featurette that is quite a bit more informative and interesting than most.
We’ll see if there are this many extras come season 2, but in the meanwhile, this is a pretty solid little collection here.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentaries
- Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
- Blooper Reel
- “Making Things Right: Behind the Scenes of My Name Is Earl” Featurette