Saturday, April 5, 2008

The two best shows on network television

My Name is Earl has done things no other half hour comedy has ever attempted. From the beginning the premise was clear. In the first season, Earl learned about Karma and set out to right every wrong he ever did to someone else in his life. Each episode he apologized and crossed someone else off his list.

Second season Earl went to prison. Watchers like I presumed it would just be for an episode or two but no, it turned into the whole season, completely dropping the original premise of the show and becoming a prison comedy.

This third season he's out of prison, doesn't believe in Karma any more, and is getting on with his life. His brother found the original list Earl had thrown away, and now he's determined to get Earl back on the right Karmic path.

So currently the premise of the show is whether or not they'll ever get back to the premise of the show. I like that.

Every detective or medical show past or present has at least given you a chance of figuring it out. At the end, you can say to yourself gee, I thought the killer was the daughter but it turned out to be the sailing instructor, or I thought the transplant was going to work but I guess they should have gone for the hysterectomy.

Not on House. There isn't the slightest chance in hell you'll ever guess the ending of House. The creators of this latest reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes have deliberately deprived you of that thrill. They give you all the same clues House gets, but he knows so much more than you that even a million stabs in the dark won't lead you to the esoteric solution Dr. House comes up with, which is not only from the heights of obscurity but never previously mentioned anywhere in the show. Someone tuning in at the very end would have just as good a chance of figuring out the ending as someone who watched the whole thing. Since you're NOT going to second guess the plot, you focus on the people, and particularly, House's brain and the performance of a Brit doing the best American accent imaginable. Good idea.


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