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My Name is Earl Fodder

My Name Is Earl: Randy In Charge - Part I

Watch the episode here.

Boy howdy do I like the title of this episode. It would be a much better world if everyone just listened to me. Just like Randy feels it would be a much better world if everyone just obeyed him – especially Earl. But things are never quite as simple as my sweet-but-meaty namesake in Camden County proves, and this ep proves it to a T.

The ep opens with Earl sleeping in his prison cot. The springs aren't squeaking so it's probably safe to assume that he's not suffering from Woodus Morningitis. But Randy wakes him from his sweet slumber with an exuberant "Wakey wakey hands off penis" and it's off to see the warden (sans song and dance numbers). Earl was just protecting Little Earl from the new inmate who likes to yank on other guy's members while they're sleeping. Hands on Junk for Safety – that's Earl's new motto.

The principal -- um -- I mean warden (signaling the triumphant return of Craig T. Nelson) -- is getting a haircut from the stylist who happens to be there to spiffy up the next execution. Wouldn't want our Dead Man Walking to be less than dapper now, would we?

The warden has another Time Off Your Sentence deal for Earl. He wants to re-start his Scared Straight program. Gay-friendly Earl can respect the warden's new comfortability with his Coming-Out-Of-The-Closet-Because-Girls-Are-Icky attitude, but no, says the warden, it's not like that. He wants to scare kids out of falling into a life of crime. Previously, they brought the kids to the prison, but that didn't work out so good. It's amazing how much a midget in a plaid jumper resembles a young school girl. This time, they're going to take the prisoners to the school. Scaring kids is a good thing, says Earl.

Earl continues to have his hands full trying to stay alive AND take care of Randy in prison. But at least he's got Dr. John's Right Place Wrong Time to rock out to. Randy likes to nap in the yard – really not advisable around prisoners with Sharpies – and he's a little too trusting handing meal trays to prisoners in solitary. I took it as a bit of an homage to Mallrats when Randy got a mega-stink palm from one malcontent. And when Randy introduced the new inmate as an ex-cop AND a child molester? Show me that in the So You Want to Be a Prison Guard handbook.

Meanwhile, back at Pimmit Hills Trailer Park, Joy is floundering like a beached whale with arthritis in a Clapper commercial. She's fallen (and can't get up) through the mattress and is stuck in the bed frame. Again. It's pressing against her like a creepy uncle, she tells Darnell. She's nine-and-a-half months pregnant with her half-sister Liberty's baby, and she wants it out like now.

Joy and Darnell meet with Liberty and her husband Ray-Ray (Tamala Jones and DJ Qualls). 'Dipstick' and 'Dum-Dum' have all kinds of cute rules for their unborn offspring, including no fried foods, no cheese, no anti-perspirants, and no-g-strings. No cheese and no g-strings? How the hell am I supposed to celebrate New Year's, asks Joy. I knew I liked her.

Earl's auditioning Scared Straight presenters while jamming out to the Allman Brothers' Jessica. Old friends Frank and Paco open up the auditions but fail to impress. A very large scary black man named Scooby makes the cut by virtue of being a very large scary black man. And the egg-smashing guy ("This is you -- this is you in prison -- smash!") is GTG. Wilson sticks a pencil in his ear and proves the old saw about never putting anything larger than your elbow into your ear. He's out. And I do mean out, as in cold. Frank returns for a second try and this time he ups the scare factor satisfactorily. Earl has his Scared Straight team.

They go to meet the warden to get his approval, and Frank scares him. Shades of Poltergeist? The warden approves Earl's choices but now has an additional requirement. He wants Earl and his kid-scarers to add a green message to their spiel. It doesn't really fit our presentation, says Earl. Do it because I'm your boss, says the warden. Why do I think this is practically word-for-word the conversation that Greg Garcia had with NBC?

Joy's on the phone with Ray-Ray and Liberty. They want Joy to stand next to the TV while the "alleged" moon landing is re-broadcast on PMS. How can Joy get PMS while she's pregnant, she asks Liberty. Oh, P-BEE-S. Gotcha. That's like a network, isn't it? Joy puts her hand over the phone while Darnell debunks NASA's gargantuan hoax.

With his hand cuffed to his ankle, Randy is introduced to the simple freedom-reducing effectiveness of handcuffs. Earl frees him and asks Randy if he might be better off working in the prison cafeteria. After all, his nightstick is missing (Randy knows who has it...they just won't give it back), and the cons keep writing stuff on his forehead. And no, it's not World's Best Guard. Work in the kitchen, Earl tells Randy, and you'll get to use the Big Spoon. But Randy likes being a guard. The boys have a bit of an argument about who looks after whom, but it ends badly for Earl when Randy calls in a Code Pink. Code Pink apparently is shorthand for Calling All Guards We Got an Uppity Inmate So Let's Strip Him Naked and Throw Him out into the Yard.

Earl's rehearsing his portion of the Scared Straight presentation. It consists mostly of Not Jail = :) = Women. Jail = :( = No Women. Quite frankly, I don't think you could sum it up any better than that.

A couple of flashbacks show how Earl's been looking after Randy since they were little ne'er-do-wells. Randy is determined to show Earl that he's the better looker-after and even starts messing with Earl's meals. I was unaware that kosher food is enjoyed by Muslims, but hey, I'm always willing to learn something new.

Earl is not the only one dealing with an uncooperative baby. Joy wants to go in and have hers yanked out of her, but she doesn't want a Caesarian (as I write this Cleopatra is on HBO – not kidding) because that scar paired with her prom scar would give her a weird little crucifix right above her landing strip. Kind of a mixed message there I suppose.

The Scared Straight team is prepping to leave. But Randy is still enforcing his I'm In Charge attitude, and he revokes Earl's privilege. Frank tells Earl that he will look after Randy in Earl's absence.

Joy's trying everything she can to get that baby out. Steppenwolf's Magic Carpet Ride, eating hot peppers, jumping on a trampoline (was I the only one to think tramp on a tramp?), even a plunger fail to do the trick. She even holds her own private exorcism, "Get out get out get out -- "

The Scared Straight presentation went very well. Randy's going to take the gang – and I do mean gang – out for ice cream. But there're no parking spaces available, so Randy agrees to have a couple of the boys run in and get the tasty treats while Frank naps in the back of the van.

Joy has spent the last five-and-a-half hours squatting in a futile attempt to convince that baby that out is better than in. As Darnell agrees to take her to the hospital, her legs cramp up and she is unable to stand. Holding Darnell's hand, she squat-walks out of the trailer saying, "I feel like BJ and the Bear." Best line of the episode hands down.

Frank wakes up in the back of the van all by his lonesome. You can't let those guys scamper around unguarded, he tells Randy. Randy runs off to re-acquire his charges, which is kind of a stretch because Randy would be up agin it to find his ass with both hands and an ass magnet. When Randy returns with the other two inmates ("What? You didn't trust us?"), Frank has beat feet. Crap, says Randy. A parking ticket AND an escaped convict.

The warden is none too pleased. If there's a convict on the loose that means his wife the governor (yea! Dee Wallace returns!) ain't gonna be receptive to any kind of marital relations any time soon. Keep it quiet, no troopers, no press, but find Frank, the warden tells Randy and Earl, and you've got forty-six hours to do it. Or until the end of next week's episode.

The ep closes with a still shot of Earl and Randy looking angrily at each other to the sound of J. Geils' Freeze Frame. There's a nice poster of the warden in the background saying, "Friends don't let friends shiv." Good advice that. They oughta sell that one in the NBC store.

Next week is Randy in Charge – Part II. Joy has the baby, Randy does something stupid, and Catalina looks spectacular.

Posted by Randy Welk on November 9, 2007 11:50 AM
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