Thursday, May 21, 2009

Goodbye Earl

TBS may throw it a lifeline, but I'm royally ticked off that NBC is cancelling My Name is Earl. It had its ups and downs, but really rallied in its fourth and, alas, final season, never failing to make me laugh out loud--something only its still-standing stablemate on Thursdays, The Office, does on a regular basis for me regarding network comedies.

It's the network thing that has me stewing. The show has been ailing in the ratings, though it can't be doing too badly for a program on cellar-dwelling NBC. What put Earl's head on the chopping block is that it's produced by 20th Century Fox Television. Fox doesn't want it (Why? Is it too brainy in comparison to its run of dull-witted redneck and trailer trash comedies?) and NBC doesn't want Fox to benefit from its continuing to air it. So away it (probably) goes--lacking a proper series finale, we'll never get to see Earl complete his karmic list. I'm stewed about that, and will miss the imaginatively dopey antics of Earl, Randy, Crab Man, and especially Joyce, played to a T (and A) by Emmy winner Jamie Pressly. Besides the down-and-dirty comedy, the show also had a warm heart and a genuine community spirit to recommend it; it was always smart, and non-condescending, about stupidity.

Meanwhile, Smallville and Scrubs limp on into ninth (ninth!) seasons. The all-but-bankrupt CW has nothing else on its plate, so it's exiled the exhausted Superman show, which came to a morose season finale that saw the death (and rebirth) of Jimmy Olsen and the hatching of another (yawn) Zod storyline, to Fridays, the Phantom Zone of network TV.

I'm more ticked off about Scrubs. I knew it might come back in some form or another, but its season finale was an effective capper to the show and a fitting exit for Zach Braff--who's returning for "transitional" episodes next year. No fair: Either take it off the respirator and exit gracefully, or reboot entirely. This half-and-half approach is unsatisfying to anyone whose emotional investment in the show was paid in full, and I can't see a semi-reborn Scrubs suddenly springing to life in the ratings after all its near-death experiences on two networks. It's only coming back because ABC owns it and wants to wring a few last bucks from the show before its final final fade. Scrubs is being whored, and I don't like it.

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