'Earl' Improves NBC's Karma
Too many viewers found it "Inconceivable" that a tongue-in-cheek
For all her heartland appeal, a warm and fuzzy
How, then, did a network where one new series after another seemed to crater and die almost instantly wind up with an off-the-wall hit that is arguably the most buzzed-about sitcom of the season?
That show, of course, is "My Name Is Earl," the critically acclaimed Thursday sitcom that wraps its freshman season on May 11. With laid-back indie film star
"Earl" is like nothing else currently on network TV, and there's no reason it should have had a future on a network that has become distressingly trigger-happy with its other offerings. With apologies to Earl and his list of karmic transgressions, however, we came up with a short list of things NBC actually did right to ensure that "Earl" had a chance to thrive.
1. Didn't say "Make it more like 'Friends.'" In an industry that seems to run mostly on fear these days and programming executives look for safe clones of proven hits, NBC actually "got" series creator Greg Garcia's original premise and, at least in all important respects, stepped back and let him do the show as he envisioned it, without corporate "improvements."
2. Acknowledged there are interesting characters in the "flyover country" between
3. Used creative casting. Who knew Jason Lee could sprout a mustache that deserves billing of its own? But triple bonus points for hiring
4. Soft-pedaled the political correctness. "Earl" gleefully lobs one wickedly comic softball after another over the heads of censors for alert (and adult) viewers, like the episode with the boys' ranch that came up with one unfortunate slogan after another ("Touching bad boys since 1963").
5. Resisted the temptation to use "Earl" to promote other NBC shows. Thankfully, none of the show's characters has appeared on, or even watched, "Fear Factor" or "