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My Name Is Earl: Season One

20th Century Fox Home Video
Show A-
Special Features A-
DVD Geek Factor 8 (out of 10)

I've only caught this one a couple of times on TV, but I've thoroughly enjoyed it. Getting the chance to take the whole first season in is a good thing. Jason Lee is terrific as Earl, a ne'er do well who wins the lottery and is promptly run over by a car. He concludes that he has bad karma, and he makes a list of people he must right wrongs with, or his life will be worthless.

Lee gets a nice chance to play a role suited for him. Some of his big-screen decisions (barring his always-fun teaming with director Kevin Smith) have not fared well. He fits perfectly into the role of a laid-back goofball, effortlessly performing some of the best deadpan humor you will find in television land. Only Steve Carell of The Office is surpassing him on the laugh meter on a weekly basis.

While Lee is the show's greatest asset, enough can't be said about the hilarious acting coming from Ethan Suplee as Earl's bro, Randy, who thinks E.T. was a monkey and harbors a genuine fear of chickens, two comical points that Suplee plays to maximum funniness. Added to that mix is Jaime Pressly, who was nominated for an Emmy thanks to her role as Earl's trailer-trash ex-wife.

The season finale was a great one. The boys go broke again; Randy starves and has temper tantrums, and Earl gets a bunch of piercings (I loved how Willie Wonka's "I've Got a Golden Ticket" played when Randy was scratching his lottery ticket). The second season (now underway) will probably kick ass and, of course, I won't watch a damn episode. I love these DVDs.

Special Features: Lee, Suplee and a selection of producers and directors offer up some commentary. One of them actually suggests the viewer should go for a walk rather than listen to the commentary, but the conversation is actually quite fun. The best feature would have to be "Bad Karma," a reworking of the series pilot that is as evil as the actual show is good-natured. The premise has Earl seeking vengeance rather than good karma, and Lee has plenty of fun with it. New footage is inserted into the supposed "lost pilot." (Lee, sans mustache, introduces it.) Earl and Randy turn evil, shaving people's heads and breaking their ceramic figurines, with Lee eventually ending up playing a transvestite hooker. There's also a blooper reel (which is actually very funny for a change; we find out Suplee is terrified of mice), deleted scenes and some behind-the-scenes stuff. It's a good DVD.

21 Grams: The Collector's Edition

Focus Features
Movie A
Special Features F
DVD Geek Factor 4 (out of 10)

Along with Memento, this is one of the more amazing modern-day cinema editing feats. Sean Penn stars as a heart-transplant patient who seeks out the wife of the man who donated his heart (Naomi Watts, who should've won an Oscar for this role). Benicio Del Toro was also superb in his Oscar-nominated role as a devoutly religious man who must confront his demons when he commits accidental vehicular manslaughter.

The story is told in a nonlinear way. We're not talking flashbacks: Virtually every one of its scenes is depicted out of order, and it isn't until the movie is over that the story makes complete sense. While the scenes are out of order, they still feel correct next to each other.

Special Features: Knowing that this "collector's edition" was coming out, I sold off my original DVD that had no features whatsoever on it. The only thing making this one different from the original release is a 20-minute making-of featurette. No commentaries or real extra work were put into this thing. Even the artwork is almost 100 percent the same. In short, if you buy this DVD after owning the other one, you'll be sorry.

Wonder Showzen: Season Two

Paramount Home Video
Show B
Special Features B-
DVD Geek Factor 6 (out of 10)

This MTV2 show is eternally disturbing. It's a comic riff on kids' shows like Sesame Street and The Electric Company, and be assured, kids should not watch it. In the first episode I watched, there was a cartoon named Mr. Body who showed a kid the wonders of his lungs by pulling them out and eating them. In another segment, a blue puppet goes out for some interviews on the street and manages to get just about everybody he encounters to throw punches at the camera or tear his eyes off.

The episode was brought to the audience by the letter "P," who is suffering from obesity (she's a victim) and gets liposuction. During the letter "P" segment, the words "fat slut" are dropped a lot. Again, kids (while co-starring in the show) should probably not watch this.

Special Features: The two-disc set contains commentaries and some outtakes. There are "extra annoying games and time wasters," and the whole package comes in something that resembles a children's book. Watch out: This one is really, really weird.

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