I loved the first season of 'My Name is Earl'. I thought it was very funny, had a great idea and a fantastic ensemble of characters. However, there was something familiar about it. It reminded me very much of an X File episode from season 7 called 'The Goldberg Variation'. Mulder and Scully investigate the case of Henry Weems, a man with extraordinary luck. Henry survived an air plane crash, in which everyone else lost their lives and he lost his eye. Shortly afterwards he noticed his luck increase, but every time something lucky happened, there would be a terrible reaction of bad luck for someone else. As a result, Henry dropped out of society, hiding away so that his good luck, and resulting bad luck, would never harm anyone else.
So, what has this got to do with 'My Name is Earl', I hear you ask? Well, at one stage Henry buys a lottery ticket. He wants to win $100,000, so he buys a scratch card and wins that amount. However, he needs the $100,000 up front, and the scratch card pays the prize in installments. Disgusted, Henry throws the scratch card in to the bin. Another man in the shop is horrified and picks the scratch card out of the bin. He is so overjoyed to have won the lottery, he dances out into the road waving the ticket, where he is knocked down by a bus. The ticket floats away and lands at the feet of the owner of the shop, who saw the whole thing.
Now, the whole premise of 'My Name is Earl' is that Earl has led a bad life, and Karma isn't going to let anything good happen to him until he starts righting the wrongs he has committed. To do this, Earl has made a list of all the bad things he has ever done and is systematically working his way through the list. If Earl neglects his duty, Karma reminds him by turning his plans for happiness sour. And how is this like the X Files? Because Earl's epiphany came when he bought a lottery ticket in a shop, won (I'm not sure, but I think it was $100,000) and danced out into the street in his happiness, only to be knocked down. This made him realize that anytime something good happened in his life, something really bad was sure to follow and blamed Karma for catching up on his sins.
I think it would be cool if Earl was inspired by the Goldberg Variation, and there are too many coincidences if it wasn't. I haven't seen it mentioned anywhere before, so that is why I am telling you. What do you think?
Thanks to Chris at DVD Screen Captures by Chrisnu for his great screen captures of the X Files Episode, The Goldberg Variation