Review: My Name is Earl 3.1

My Name is Earl

In the US: Thursdays, 8/7c, NBC

In the UK: Channel 4, some time in the year 2357 at this rate

Characters re-cast: 0

Major characters gotten rid of: 0

Major new characters: A prison full

Format change percentage: 25%

Number of shanks made: 1

Ooh, this is tricky. How to review this without giving the game away for UK viewers, who are still trundling through season two.

Can’t. Sorry. Don’t read further than this point if you’ve not seen the finale for season two.

So we last left Earl languishing in jail after taking the fall for Joy’s inadvertent kidnapping. Anyone expecting a magic reset button will be surprised to hear that Earl’s not going to be miraculously released any time soon, certainly not by the end of this double-header.

The question is can Earl still be Earl while inside. While karma can protect him on the outside, can he survive gangs, shanks and inmate violence?

The answer seems to be yes. While the opening episode is slightly grimmer than normal, with Earl finding that prison life really isn’t all that fun, things perk up in the second part as he embarks on a quest to help another prisoner get parole. By the end, the viewer will emit, as per usual, an audible sigh of “Ah!”

Meanwhile, back on the outside, Joy is forced to look after Randy, who finds even elementary acts like crossing the road hard without Earl. In Earl’s absence, Catalina gets to be a little more fun than usual, Joy a little less.

It’s all marginally less satisfying than before, although that’s true of most opening episodes, although it does get better by the end. Hopefully, Earl can bring joy to an entire prison before the end of the season.

New viewers should be able to watch and pick up the action in no time, old viewers may be slightly disappointed, but only slightly, yet filled with hope by the end of the episode that things can be good if you’re good to things.