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My Name is Earl Fodder

My Name Is Earl: The Birthday Party

Watch the full episode here.

First off, they haven't been running the full opening credits for some time now. I do miss the opening theme song, but on the other hand I'd like to think that means that they can air a few extra seconds of show, and not just that they can shove in an extra commercial or two. I'd like to think that. In this episode we learn the one-legged girl's story, and it's (with all apologies to Darnell) biblical. And I would be remiss if I failed to mention that this ep was directed by an old favorite of mine, Mr. Joss Whedon of Buffy/Angel/Firefly fame. (BTW - Joss also wrote several episodes of Roseanne -- yet another tie-in.) Enough with the fol de rol...Let's have at it!

The ep opens with Earl and Randy in bed. Yes, it's so very sad that Randy is still living with Earl at the Pines motel, and not sharing the connubials with his oh so lovely bride. This Randy & Catalina situation smacks to me of The Gift of the Magi. Something tells me that the day will come when Randy and Catalina clear the air and settle into marital bliss. I believe that they belong together. I for one do not want to see another Daisy & Enos heartbreaker.

Guess what? It's Earl's birthday! Earl looks forward to waking up on his birthday for the simple reason that Randy makes him breakfast in bed. (Earl apparently has very low standards when it comes to haute cuisine.) Unfortunately, Randy is not an early riser and has a tendency to go back to bed after slapping the bacon. Into the frying pan - get your mind out of the gutter. And Randy has done so again this year as is shown by the smoking hot pan perched precariously on the comforter. Earl is happy to wake up on this birthday knowing that he will not be the third person in the Pines motel to die in a bed fire.

Thinking over the past year of Dudley Do-Right-ing, Earl reflects on people that he's helped, including Gay Kenny, Roseanne the nun, Joy and Darnell at their wedding, and the freaks from freaktown he helped not freak out about being freaks.

Earl is enjoying his gourmet pancake breakfast in bed. Randy has included all of Earl's favorites in the batter, including bubble gum, beer, gummy worms, and a button from one of Earl's shirts (for luck). It's one of Randy's better batches. An informed Earl is a careful Earl, and he finds the button pre-swallow. It's his lucky day.

Unlike previous birthdays, Earl isn't blottoed by noon. At the Crabshack, Randy is throwing a party for Earl and the gang's all there. Catalina gives Earl a pin-on button she got as a tip from one the patrons at Club Chubby. (Note - That was Catalina's only line. She is desperately under-utilized.) Randy presents Earl with a big ol' cake that says, "Happy Birthday, Gary!" Gary is an employee of the Power and Water department who, according to Randy, " -- was standing in some water when he touched some power." Gary'll be all right in a few months, but he won't be needing his cake anytime soon so Randy got it half off. Plus, it's an ice cream cake. Much like Earl's favorite kind of truck, it's got ice cream in it.

Speaking of ice cream trucks reminds Randy of all the fun they used to have with the ice cream truck when Earl and Joy were still married and they all lived together in trailer park bliss. Earl used to watch a show about a bunch of jackasses ("I think it was called 'Dumbass'"), and ever since the neighbor got his cable cut off, Earl has had to find some other source of amusement. So Earl would tie a rope around the feet of a sleeping Randy. When Randy woke to the ice cream truck's patented come-and-get-it musical stylings, he woke up running only to trip spectacularly. And then there was the time Earl and Joy put the vacuum cleaner nozzle down Randy's pants. (Okay, I admit it. That was funny.) But Randy was too clever the time Earl poured a glass of water on Sleeping Randy's crotch. "Nice try Earl, but pee is warm," says Randy.

But Earl's been a good boy, and he's looking to get some acknowledgement. He greets a few Shack patrons like Pickled Egg Guy and African-American Cowboy. Escobar a-Lop-Lop has become considerably more fluent in the Queen's English. That is to say, if the Queen learned English from MTV and Eminem. Willie the one-eyed mailman is chatting up Kay (Earl's mom played by Nancy Lenehan who was in Boy Meets World with Ethan Suplee) at the bar. Kay has a nice anecdote about Earl peeing on her rug, but she's sure Earl wouldn't remember it. She's right. Earl doesn't remember it, but he's heard the story enough times.

Flashback â€" Extreme closeup on a baby's diaper-less butt. Kay is after the wee (sorry) toddler with a diaper in her hand. Suddenly, the front door opens and closes â€" Daddy's home! Turns out that daddy is not Earl's daddy, but Earl himself (the baby is Dodge), and Earl's looking pretty darn liquored up after a night out with the boys. He walks into the living room and unzips Little Earl. "My living room is not a toilet!" shouts Kay. It is today. Earl drains the lizard on Kay's new rug and finishes up with a pee wiggle and a smile.

Back to present day at the Shack and Earl suggests to Willie that he show Kay what's under his eye patch. "Why, it looks like there's a little raisin in there," says Kay.

Randy meanwhile has found a bottle of booze with one of those shot-pouring spouts on it. "Look at me," he tells Earl, "I'm an alcoholic hamster." Darnell loves the bit. He tells Randy that Mr. Turtle would love it too. Darnell tells Earl that Randy was just telling him about all the pranks Earl used to pull, including the time that Earl got Darnell stoned.

Flashback â€" Thursday night at the Shack used to be Brownie Night. Before Darnell perfected his Lemon Squares, he used to make brownies. Regular (straight) brownies and special (laced with pot) brownies. The regular brownies were twenty-five cents apiece, and the special brownies were five dollars apiece. Since it was the Crabshack, there wasn't a very big demand for the regular brownies. Entrepreneur Earl saw an opportunity to make some money. He switched the prices so that everybody ended up paying five dollars for the regular brownies. The plan being that when all the "special" brownies were gone and everybody had left, Earl and Randy would take the remaining "regular" brownies and sell them elsewhere.

Unfortunately, Earl and Randy didn't count on passing out on the pool table. So Darnell took the remaining "regular" brownies home to his grandmother so the two of them could share them over a game of Scrabble ("We share a sweet tooth and a love of language."). He was met outside the Crabshack by an angry and decidedly un-high mob. Crazy-eyed Donny was particularly unhappy - he had listened to an entire Phish album. That's time he won't be getting back any time soon. Relating the story to Earl, Darnell says, "It was biblical."

Back to present day and Earl's party at the Shack. Earl's firing up the Karaoke machine. Sure would be nice if somebody would sing something nice, maybe something like For He's A Jolly Good Fellow. (Happy Birthday To You is out â€" we ain't paying no royalties.) Earl talks Donny into singing saying, "What Would Jesus Sing?" Donny will sing, even though he still hasn't quite forgiven Earl for the potted-fern scar on his noggin ("I'm still waiting for you to make that up to me."). Donny sings Heartbreaker by Pat Benatar with some very creative and angry lyrics of his own devising. Earl's not too pleased.

Joy gives Earl some grief about Donny's scar, and Earl tells Joy that the only reason Donny got potted (ya gotta love a theme show) was because Earl was just trying to make a pregnant Joy feel better about herself.

Flashback: Seems that the trailer park was being victimized by a peeping tom with a penchant for peeping folks en flagrante. Or just ladies with clamps on their nubbies. Joy is upset that she hasn't been peeped. (Sad to say, but this whole bit was pretty much ripped off from Married With Children.) Joy even tries to make her getting peeped as convenient as possible by moving Earl's comfy chair, binoculars, and a six-pack of beer into proper peeping position. Joy dresses up in sexy outfits and announces to the entire trailer park that she and Earl are gonna be doin' it like rabbits on Spanish-Fly-and-Viagra-laced carrots. What Joy doesn't know is that the peeping tom is Earl. He's been on the lookout for whoever recently bought a big screen TV that just might need stealin'. An un-peeped Joy wants to know, "How bad do you have to be to get passed over by a trailer park perv?" So Earl pays Donny to peep Joy. The peeping part worked just fine, but the running away part worked good not so much. Donny gets caught and kicked around by the trailer park ladies (we assume they've removed the nubby clamps) and gets a fern upside the head.

Joy tells Earl that Donny still has a Texas-shaped piece of terra cotta under his scalp. Earl tells Joy he was just trying to make her feel better about her pregnant self, and Joy tells him that he was terrible at it. Cue music bed â€" Queen's Fat Bottom Girl. Judging by Earl's self-esteem-enhancing tactics of gluing Joy's picture to a tabloid photo of the World's Fattest Lady Fused To Couch (followed up with a plaintive "C'monnnn"), his hopping up from one end of the couch when Joy say down on the other end like they're on a seesaw ("C'monnnn"), resting his beer on her belly ("C'monnnn"), and addressing her as "Hey, Fattie," I guess I can sort of understand her disillusionment. Yes, Earl tells Joy, you're on my list.

Looking at Earl's list, Joy notes that while all of that was bad, it's not even in the team photo with number eighty-six. Oh yeah, Earl admits, that one was way worse.

Flashback: Ladies Night at the Crabshack. Earl and Randy are hitting on drunk chicks. Randy finds one who's juuust about drunk enough. She looks Randy over, gulps down the rest of her drink, and bingo, she's good to go (home with Randy). Earl meanwhile, is using his best line, a line we've heard before on a girl we've seen before, "You've got great boobs, Peggy." She replies, "My name's not Peggy, it's Didi." Earl replies, "You've got great boobs, Didi." Didi (aka Tracy Ashton, who was in Stuck On You) is -- dunh dunh dunh -- THE ONE-LEGGED GIRL! (Didi has appeared in several MNIE episodes including The Pilot, Monkeys In Space, Cost Dad The Election, and Quit Smoking.)

They go to Didi's home for a romantic night of making with the monkey-love. The next morning, Earl wakes up (a la The Godfather) with a third leg (aka Didi's prosthesis). He freaks out royal. As Didi's making breakfast in bed for Earl (gotta love a theme show), Earl seizes the opportunity to make a fast getaway. And since he spent a lot of money plying Didi with drinks the night before, he's looking to recoup his losses. Unfortunately, Didi catches Earl helping himself to the cash in her wallet. She attacks Earl with a dish towel, and Earl fends her off with her prosthetic leg. He steals her car, and she shoots at him with a shotgun. It's like déjà vu all over again.

Back to present day and Earl's party at the Shack. Earl's dad Carl (played by Beau Bridges) is offering up a toast to Earl. I'm proud of you, he says, even though you were a first class pain in the ass. You almost got me divorced. Here we go again, thinks Earl.

Flashback to teen-age Earl with his homeys sitting (slouching) on the couch watching TV. Carl comes home and tells Earl to get his feet off the coffee table. Earl, ever the smart-ass, lifts his feet about six inches above the coffee table. See? They're off. So Carl grabs the table out from under Earl's feet and accidently shatters a lamp. Earl and his pals find this amusing so Carl smashes the TV with the coffee table. "There," Carl says, "try to watch your cartoons now!" Earl's friend tells Earl, "Your dad is such a jerk." Yeah, thinks Earl, why can't he be more like Eric's mom?

Flash over to Eric's house, and Eric's mom comes into the room where the boys are watching TV. She's about a hundred and sixty pounds of lush stuffed into a hundred and twenty pound maillot, and she's sipping a chemically-enhanced martini. She's veerrry happy. Earl realizes that his dad is crabby when he drinks, but Eric's mom is happy when she drinks because she's got momma's little helper. So Earl steals a few happy pills, and later that evening slips them into his dad's drink at Carl and Kay's anniversary party. Carl's crabby as usual, and he gives Earl an earful about Randy's having stolen all of the pigs right out from under all of the blankets. A few minutes and a pharmaceutically-enhanced Manhattan later, a veerrry happy Carl is goosing all of the ladies at the party. He even tries to get a key party going ("No fat chicks!"). Kay is not amused. I dunno -- looked like a fun party to me.

Back to Carl's toast â€" he's still giving Earl grief because he had to sleep on the couch for a week after the key party incident. For Earl, this day has become the birthday party that wouldn't end. Then Skinny DJ Guy & Slow Roger bust Earl's chops. Even Voicebox Guy rips Earl a new one. So to speak. "He made a wish and threw a penny in my hole." Earl dejectedly says, "It's okay, you're number 165 on my list. I'll never drink cinnamon schnapps again." Tired of hearing everyone rag on him, Earl calls it a night. Leaving the Crabshack, he even throws away Catalina's pin. Almost as sad as Ol' Yeller dying, lemme tell ya.

Nearing the motel, Earl runs into the one person he had absolutely no desire to meet â€" Didi, the one-legged girl. He runs away, she pogo sticks (she apparently left her prosthesis at home) after him. He runs up the stairs, she pursues him relentlessly a la Terminator. Earl fumbles with his keys getting into his motel room as Didi draws dangerously close. Earl finally unlocks the door, stumbles in, locks it behind him, turns on the light, and "Surprise!," it's the gang from the shack.

The bitchfest at the Crabshack was Randy's idea of a birthday prank seeing that Earl was so fond of pranks. Seems nobody could figure out what to get Earl for his birthday (they stopped making that brand of flannel shirt in 1991, but hey, AC/DC and Metallica t-shirts never go out of style), so Earl's loved ones take turns crossing items off of Earl's list. Even Escobar (who steals Earl's pen) and Crazy-eyed Donny cross off items.

Didi is still hovering outside the door, so Earl uses his birthday wish to wish that she go away, After thirty minutes and a brick through the El Camino's windshield, she finally leaves and it's party time. Earl gets acknowledgement that he is a changed man, and with some genial encouragement and a liberal dose of liquid you-can-dance, Earl busts a few moves to the strains of Tone-Loc's Funky Cold Medina.

Earl finally gets the birthday party he had hoped for. And as the gang raises the roof and chants, "Go Earl, it's yer birthday," we FTB.

Posted by Randy Welk on February 15, 2007 11:51 PM
Permalink |

I love your recaps. All the inside dope on MNIE is awesome.

-- Posted by: tim at February 16, 2007 7:09 PM

Loved the end of this episode. I am always psyched when Earl busts out the breakdancing. One of my favorite episodes of all-time was when he danced at Joy's wedding to "Bust a Move."

-- Posted by: Rachel at February 16, 2007 11:23 PM


Thanks for the kind words. I really like the show and enjoy digging into it a bit and then writing about. I do not profess to know everything about MNIE, so if I've left out some interesting bit or glossed over something relevant by all means feel free to point it out.

Rach (see? got it right that time),

Earl's dancing is priceless. Almost as good as Elaine's on Seinfeld. I'm no expert on the subject, but even though he calls it break-dancing I think it's more like popping. But I'm not what's the diff or even if there is one.

-- Posted by: randy at February 17, 2007 12:56 PM

Being a huge Married with Children fan, I too was amazed that the peeping bit was a total ripoff the of the MWC episode! Oh well, what can you do...

-- Posted by: Sal Garcia at February 28, 2007 9:28 PM

my brother wants the AC/DC tee that earl from my name is earl wears the link shows a pic of it could any1 tell me where 2 get that exact one?

-- Posted by: christine at November 2, 2008 9:48 AM

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