My Name Is Earl In case you thought Randy and Darnell were cut from the same simple, naive cloth, tonight we got the perfect example of what differentiates them: When imagining his dad as the mayor, Randy says, "We'd get to wear top hats and sashes and judge beauty contests!" When asked if he'd like to register to vote, Darnell says he already is registered, "not that it matters because until we reform the electoral college, the popular votes will be ignored and we'll keep electing presidents who only get a minority of the vote," and turns back to his game of Mousetrap. I'm not going to even touch Earl's politics, but I like to think that this episode sort of explained his moral ambiguity. With such a wishy-washy mom and a blowhard dad, how is a kid supposed to learn right from wrong? Mayor Park's ads had a point. What did Carl Hickey do to prevent his sons from continuing their life of petty crime? Of course, I'm biased, and I think Carl doesn't even deserve to have his son work so hard for his forgiveness, but I did feel bad for Earl when he found out that even Catalina had been to the Hickeys' house for Sunday dinner. Loved the childhood flashbacks in which Earl was already wearing his signature plaid flannels. The best scene of the night, though, had to be that montage of everyone in town realizing how much they hated that airplane noise overhead. Panning upward as if showing apartments in a high-rise, it went from a strip joint, to a patch-eyed man playing pool, to a poodle humping the prosthetic leg of Earl's car-robbery victim, to Joy and Darnell enjoying a game of Mousetrap. Like last week's scene in which Earl spoke to the heartbroken Darnell in a plastic tunnel, it was a bit of cinematic artistry slipped in among the lowbrow comedy.  Sabrina Rojas Weiss

The Office
Michael's no-guns-allowed improv class, the IT guy who is most certainly not a terrorist, Pam's revelation that Dwight and Angela just might be making with the hanky-pank folks, my comedy cup runneth over. Not to mention Michael's impromptu damage control when the staff learns he's been snooping through their in-boxes: "The problem is that when people hear the term Big Brother, they immediately think it's scary or bad, but I don't. I think, wow, I love my big brother." (Aw, great, now I miss Howie and Janelle.) And while I'm sure the notion of corporate e-mail surveillance probably scared the bejesus out of every last Cubicle American from sea to shining sea, the terror was clearly worth it just to hear the boss man say the word "e-vitation." But hey, who says you have to be e-vited to show up to the after-work party and make everybody feel all awkward? This may speak more to the fullness of my home life than to the particular brilliance of the scene, but I'm pretty sure I've never been giddier than the moment Jim stepped in to save Michael's floundering karaoke rendition of "Islands in the Stream." From one lover to another, uh-huh indeed.

Last week I mentioned that the camera eye contact was getting a little too frequent, but now I understand that it was simply paving the way for the monumentally satisfying Lassie maneuver. As this week's episode so deftly illustrates: Dwight's eating a Baby Ruth is the new Timmy's trapped in the old mine shaft. Nice work, faceless mockumentary crew. You get a Milkbone.   Chana Shwadlenak

Threshold
How gross was it to watch the woman at the hot-dog cart basically explode? But that was nothing compared to the creep-out factor at the fact that this weird alien infection can be passed sexually and that it can reproduce. Alien babies? That just doesn't sound good, since these aren't the nice little extraterrestrials like the ones on Alien Nation. (On a side note: As someone who is eight-months pregnant, I think those aliens were onto something with the males of the species bearing children.) But back to Threshold, I can't believe Elizabeth Berkley is really dead. I mean, it just seemed too easy to kill her. Plus, for an alien she was kinda cool, smart, intelligent and definitely sexy. Not that Carla isn't a knockout in her own right, but it was fun to have a sexy femme fatale around. And I so don't trust Molly's new big boss. It seems like he's got a bit of a hidden agenda. Maybe it's just me.   AC

To read what Elizabeth Berkley had to say about her role, click here. To hear Brent Spiner's thoughts on the show, click here.


Nip/Tuck
First things first. Last week I referred to Nikki's murder as "Sean's daydream" because when Sean went into the bedroom after he heard voices, nothing was there except the note Nikki left behind. Lots of people I spoke to (like my roommate, whose opinion I respect since he's a TV addict like me) agreed that it was indeed a daydream. But then I got several feedback e-mails from people saying it wasn't a dream Nikki really was shot by that creepy guy. So I consulted my FX contact, who confirmed it wasn't a daydream! He agreed with me that it was confusing and vague, but that was the intention. This is a rarity with this show since it usually ends each week with most (non-Carver) mysteries solved. So, building on this vague theme, I wasn't surprised that they never mentioned Nikki tonight. Even more vague was tonight's ending with Kimber seemingly bailing on Christian at the altar, but then they showed the previews for next week: She's been kidnapped! I already felt so bad for her after that scene with Gina. How many women receive the diaphragm of their fiancé's former lover as a wedding gift? That Gina's a class act. Speaking of classy, how beautiful for Christian to give Kimber liposuction so she could fit into her wedding dress. But nothing beats Matt in the (not so) classy department. Just when you thought he couldn't possibly be more hateful, he starts dating a neo-Nazi white supremacist played by Brittany Snow. American Dreams? More like "Racist American Dreams" this time. Her mother collects racist ceramic figurines and her father (played by Brian Kerwin on Grey's Anatomy last Sunday) was happy Matt had gay-bashed. Lovely. At least Christian asked Matt to leave the wedding. It was good to see Christian and Sean playing nice, so I'm glad Sean is returning to McNamara-Troy. One final memo to Julian McMahon please stop with the tweezing. The women on this show have more manly eyebrows.  Dave Anderson