It was an all-star party for the eccentric, lovable Chance clan on Tuesday night's back-to-back episodes of "Raising Hope." And not just any party -- a birthday party! Little Hope turned 3 on the first installment, "Making the Band," and she had some familiar guests to help her ring in the special occasion: the cast of "My Name is Earl" -- which, along with "Raising Hope," was created by Emmy Award–winner Greg Garcia.
Jason Lee (the lead on "My Name is Earl") reprised his role as troubled rock 'n' roller Smokey Floyd -- only now he's on the mend and making amends after a stint on "Rehab With the Stars." He shows up at the Chances' door with a list of people he wronged and needs to apologize to -- hmm, that storyline definitely sounds familiar to "Earl" fans!
Jaime Pressly and Ethan Suplee ("My Name Is Earl's" Joy Turner and Randy Hickey) return as Virginia and Burt's neighbors Donna and Andrew -- only this time in costume. Eddie Steeples ("Earl's" Darnell "Crabman" Turner) pops in as the pizza man delivering festive fare to the party, and Nadine Velazquez ("Earl's" Catalina Aruca) shows up as Valentina, a party supply store employee delivering a not-so-memorable party activity.
When Jimmy and his wife, Sabrina, try to keep up the Joneses, they realize that they simply don't have enough dough to throw an epic birthday party with all the trimmings like the other parents do. But after they notice that Hope (Jimmy's daughter with a now-deceased serial killer) is taking on some of the lonely-kid traits Jimmy had, they are determined to try.
Virginia and Burt attempt to show them how it's done without spending beaucoup bucks, but it all backfires when pizza guy Tyler appears with two tiny pizzas, the bouncy castle is just a minitrampoline, and the cake has a picture of a shirtless Barney (Gregg Binkley) instead of a picture of Hope. Not to mention that Donna and Andrew are dressed as beauty and the beaver and are bombing onstage in front of the kids -- even their attempt to dance "Gangnam Style" doesn't interest the discerning tykes.
It's also worth noting that Donna and Tyler can't stop making eyes and salacious comments at each other, which should be no surprise to "Earl" fans, as these two played a very affectionate couple.
So what's this kooky group to do about the floundering fete? Band together -- literally! Smokey Floyd, Virginia, Burt, pizza guy Tyler, Donna, Andrew, and a bouncing Valentina put on a show for the kids -- performing a song Smokey Floyd wrote years ago for a stupid woman he was dating. Luckily, the lyrics are totally applicable to kids.
They are so awesome that their rock 'n' roll career takes off! Smokey Floyd is skeptical because now he feels like he needs to get away from the rock lifestyle and find purpose -- calling all "Earl" fans! -- but he's convinced by the others to give it a try.
Finally, Virginia and Burt are living the rockin' lifestyle they've always dreamed of. While the whole band is on a private jet to Florida for some rich guy's kid's party, they hit a wicked storm and almost crash. Smokey Floyd loves the wild ride -- he's a rocker, after all -- but Virginia and Burt realize that this is not for them; they have a family that means too much back home. But they assure Smokey Floyd that he can cross this apology off his list (wink, wink).
Fans voiced their love for the "My Name Is Earl" reunion on Twitter:
Loved the My Name is Earl reunion on Raising Hope tonight!— Matt Payne (@mlpayne) February 27, 2013
My Name is Earl cast in Raising Hope and all the puns! Yes!— Julia Renee (@julsoceanchild) February 27, 2013
Rasing Hope is amazing, and thank you for reuniting the cast of "My Name is Earl"— KingGhidorah (@MrChacon) February 27, 2013
i like how the cast of My Name Is Earl were playing the same characters on Raising Hope! #SoFunny— Kaitlin ❤ (@KaitlinCrocker) February 27, 2013
The star power continues in the next episode, "The Old Girl," with guest-star Hilary Duff (her first role since giving birth to baby Luca on March 20, 2012) playing Rachael, Jimmy's girlfriend from seven years before.
Sabrina is overjoyed when she meets a fun, cool, and pretty girl at the gym. Unfortunately, it turns out to be the Rachael, whom the Chances despise with a passion. As Virginia puts it, she's "a demon child from the jowls of hell." Too bad that Sabrina invited her over, and ding-dong, she's at the door.
Rachael is shocked to learn that Jimmy is married to her new friend, and even more shocked to learn that he's still connected to "Sally." Sally? Flashback time!
Virginia decides to come clean and detail how she and his dad, Burt, love Jimmy so much that they've had a plan in motion since the first out-of-his-league girlfriend broke Jimmy's heart. His parents realized early on that he gravitated to ladies who were too pretty and promising for their simple boy, knowing that they'd eventually break his heart -- and when his heart breaks, so does his family's. Not to mention he sinks into a breakup fog and sings an endless rotation of Bill Withers's "Ain't No Sunshine."
When Jimmy was a kid and a teen, it was easier to scare away his ladies; Virginia would tell them he had cooties or that he had a bowel control problem. (That'd do it.) But as he got older, the plots thickened.
Virginia and Burt lied to Jimmy about a family member dying, so they had to leave town -- leaving Jimmy to care for Maw Maw (the hilarious Cloris Leachman). In their absence, he was unable to visit Rachael at college, so he sent her various gifts (personalized mug and nudey picture included). Virginia and Burt intercepted all of the packages to and from Rachael. But there was no dead relative; the Chance parents had placed themselves on the college campus trying to catch Rachael cheating. When they found out she was faithful, the plan spun out of control, and Rachael ended up believing that Jimmy was involved with Sally -- aka his mother.
Jimmy is shocked and pretty mad, but he forgives easily, as now he's married to the love of his life, Sabrina. Rachael, on the other hand, calls them all "clinically insane" and takes off. Sabrina's the one suffering heartbreak now; she really wanted a friend. "This is a new marriage," she yells after Rachael. "If it doesn't work out, I'll call you!" Looks like her new BFF isn't forevs, and she breaks into "Ain't No Sunshine."
It's understandable why someone would be so heartbroken over being ditched by the delightful Hilary Duff; she nailed the role of normal girl navigating the Chance family insanity, and it's good news that she's signed on with Fox to headline her own 30-minute comedy!
Here's what viewers had to say on Twitter about Duff's guest spot:
Hilary Duff on Raising Hope tonight...nice little cameo...brings back childhood memories— Jacob Roland (@JRolNation) February 27, 2013
Just finished watching @hilaryduff on Raising Hope. It was great!!! You're perfect Hilary!— Jessica Reyes (@_JessicaReyes) February 27, 2013