Victor Nelli Jr., Gregory Thomas Garcia (creator)
The show follows a standard formula for each episode - Earl selects an item from his list of bad deeds and tries to make amends (this ranges from things as petty as stealing 10 bucks, to things as terrible as thieving a car from a one-legged lady). Of course, they expand this a little further, usually with some form of subplot that later connects with the episode's theme. It's all fairly basic, but it works surprisingly well - everything in the show does. On top of the great writing and acting, the direction is impressive too (there's great visuals, a perfect choice of music, etc.). Even the should-be sappy messages work well. Plus, the humor is almost always effective, adding levels of dark quirkiness to the proceedings (much like a Coen brothers production).
I do have some minor gripes though, most of which are just personal nitpicks. For one, I hated how much they made karma out to be this powerful, supernatural force. They never really made the idea clear up until "The Professor", where it's very obvious that karma is punishing Earl. I liked the premise better when Lee's character was always just misinterpreting things as signs of karma, while the audience could just decide on their own whether it was an actual power or not.
Another gripe deals more with specific episodes, such as "Y2K" (too stupid and sitcom-y) and "Didn't Pay Taxes" (dull and frustrating). It seems the people behind the show hit a rut about two-thirds through the season, because over half the episodes on disc 3 are sort of lousy. Luckily, the show picks up again at the end, perfectly concluding the season with an outstanding finale (loved the "Golden Ticket" bit). There may be a few stinkers in the bunch, but overall, season 1 of MY NAME IS EARL proves to be the start of a first-rate show. Lets hope it lasts.
Faked His Own Death
Broke Joy's Fancy Figurine
Stole Beer From A Golfer
Cost Dad the Election
White Lie Christmas*
O Karma, Where Art Thou?*
Stole P's HD Cart
Monkeys in Space
Something to Live For
Didn't Pay Taxes
The Bounty Hunter
Stole a Badge
UNSEEN BONUS EPISODE: Bad Karma*
NOTE: The above asterisks mark which episodes have commentary tracks available.
The packaging is nice too, including a cardboard slipcase holding two slimline plastic cases, each of which holds two of four discs from the set. This keeps the overall set thin, and easy to use when switching discs. Very slick.
Earl Misadventure: "Bad Karma" (13:41): This DVD exclusive has got to be one of the best extras I've seen. It includes an alternate version of the pilot, letting us see what would've happened if Earl had clicked past Carson Daily and happened upon Stewie from Family Guy. So instead of learning about karma, he learns about revenge and writes up a list of all the people who have wronged him. It's best not to look at this as an actual episode (since some of it doesn't make much sense), but it's still incredibly funny to watch.
Audio Commentaries (with creator Greg Garcia, executive producer/director Marc Buckland, and actors Jason Lee and Ethan Suplee being the main participants): There are 8 tracks in total (all of which are marked with asterisks in episode listing above). Some of them are particular interesting, including guest speakers like Giovanni Ribisi, Jon Favreau, Eddie Steeples, Jaime Pressly, Nadine Velazquez, producer Tim Stack, and in one case ("Dad's Car"), all of the main speakers moms deliver their own separate track. The commentaries are very fun and entertaining, focusing much more on joking around and telling stories then informing the viewer (in this case, that's a good thing). If you enjoy the episodes enough to watch them through more than once, then these commentaries are definite listening material.
Making Things Right: Behind the Scenes of "My Name is Earl" (38:21): This outstanding featurette tells the audience everything they could possibly want to know about the show, starting right off from how it was conceived to its development on NBC to the decision to actually make it a regular series. I don't normally like to watch making-of's from start to finish but I had zero problems getting through this one. Very informative, and enjoyable too.
Deleted Scenes (with optional commentary by creator Greg Garcia and executive producer/director Marc Buckland): These are separated by episode amongst the four discs, totaling to somewhere around 9 minutes worth (from eight episodes). Almost all of the footage is, surprisingly enough, worthwhile. Most of it was cut because of time restrictions, so be sure to check it out.
Karma is a Funny Thing: Blooper Reel (19:58): A very lengthy, but also continuously amusing, gag reel. Jason Lee in particular is fun to watch because whenever he flubs a line he tends to do this weird backwards-talking thing. Very funny, and something I'm sure all fans will love.
Also included is a Soundtrack Promo.