My Name Is Earl My Name Is Earl

Of the creepy sci-fi "Are their extraterrestrial beings among us?" shows that are debuting this fall, this one is by far my favorite. I saw Invasion and was a bit bored, and Surface was confusing and a bit silly, but this one has a great cast and an engaging mystery. I have no idea where it is going, or how it is going to last, but that doesn't matter so much to me. I miss The X-Files, and this has the potential to fill its former Friday-night shoes if it keeps up to its premiere. Things I loved: that Molly's dog is named Monster; that Ramsey, Lucas and Fenway all question the government and their forced employment on this assignment; that there is funny dialogue wrapped around the complicated scientific stuff. What I didn't like: that William Mapother looked possessed even pre-"alien" arrival. Perhaps it's because I'm so used to thinking of him as the mysterious Ethan from Lost. Oh, and that sometimes the "questioning" seemed a little too obvious, like Cavanaugh's leading questions about Molly's dad and his watch. You just know there's got to be something to do that. And on another note, are there really people who have contingency plans for these worst-case scenarios? Somehow that makes me more than a little nervous. But I guess if writers can come up with these possibilities, then it isn't so far-fetched that the government would know about it. I just hope I'm not one of the people who are magically drawn to a subversive signal.   Angel Cohn

Stargate SG-1
Gerak sure makes a (sneaky + ooky =) "snooky" Prior. He's got enlightenment if you want it, babe, but only if you scratch the Ori's back viz, worship said Ori unconditionally. Now that Gerak has white eyes and carries a joystick that resembles a Fisher-Price version of a red-light district lamppost, it's going to be tough for Teal'c and Bra'tac to plead their "resist the Ori" case before the stick-in-the-mud Jaffa Council. In another galaxy far, far, away, the SG-6 team returned from Planet 412 with bad news and BAD NEWS. The bad news was 412 fell under the sway of the Ori. The BAD NEWS was that SG-6's Lieutenant Fisher didn't realize that an Ori virus had been planted on his person. Fisher unwittingly spread the contagion outside the base and into America, which had to be closed down for quarantine. Curiously enough, the episode did not touch on the colossal guilt this poor schmo must have felt for bringing the United States to a complete halt. It did, however, give Sam Carter the opportunity to reconnect with the ascended Orlin. The producers neatly sidestepped Sean Patrick Flanery's unavailability (he's too busy darkening the The Dead Zone as Greg Stillson) by having Orlin descend into the form of a tweenage lad (a great turn by Cameron Bright). Why? Because at that age, a human's capacity for retaining information exceeds that of an aging thirtysomething, and Orlin needs all the gray matter he can scrape together to hold the advanced knowledge needed to cure the Ori contagion. Too bad the result is brain damage. I'm hoping this won't encourage school kids to use "Too much information makes me punch-drunk" as an excuse for poor grades. (It didn't work for me.) Listening to young Orlin discuss his deep feelings for Sam over a heinous PB&J sandwich seemed like a sci-fi version of the Mary Kay LeTourneau case, only charming, and sensibly unrequited by Sam. Orlin also found time to explain that the Ori are ascendants who gain power by sucking the life-forces from those who submit to them (rather like Benny Hinn). Their promises of enlightenment and ascension are a fraud, meaning that as Orlin puts it they suffer "deaths of the most meaningless kind." The trouble is, folks buy into their shtick for the same reason people send money to the 700 Club or Focus on the Family they can't tell the difference between blind faith and willful ignorance. The latter is often spurred by desperation and fear. Gerak, for all his pompous posturing, is basically an insecure blowhard. If I understood Bra'tac correctly, the older members of the Jaffa Council yearn for ascension the way Brett Favre yearns for another Super Bowl triumph. But as dilapidated as the 0-2 Packers are right now, Favre still has a better shot at a ring than Gerak has at a halo. Either way, we'll have to wait until January to see how it all plays out.  G.J. Donnelly