When a prisoner swallows the knob to the TV, prison guard Randy is forced to extend their TV-watching time. Lucky for him it turns out to be an episode of “Cops” featuring he and Earl. Not the first Cops they were on -- a different one, a special “terrorist edition.” I don’t know about you, but I think 9/11 is still hanging pretty close in peoples’ hearts for it to be the focus of a sit-com.

At any rate, the episode picks up with Joy torturing Earl with a weed-whacker for spending the last of their cash on an All American Sandwich Press instead of prowling the fair for money-making opportunities. You’ve gotta wonder what kind of childhood Joy had to be such a raving lunatic at times.

Anyway, the cops – one of whom is Mimi from The Drew Carey Show -- deal with assorted complaints, including child endangerment (Catalina takes her babysitting charge to the strip club and pole dances with the baby strapped to her front), a missing animal (a lamb at the fair, which the cop accidentally shoots), and home invasion (Randy and Earl break into their Sikh neighbor’s trailer, where the cops find Randy invading the kitchen and Earl reading Gun & Ho magazine while sitting on the john).

Joy’s still married to Earl at the time this episode of Cops was shot, and she cheats on him with Darnell, who ends up running around naked for most of the episode. What, he couldn’t find a pair of pants sometime during the day? At least his grandma didn’t attack him with the curling iron, like she did with Joy and one of the cops.

The cops give a presentation at the fair to show off their high-tech anti-terrorism equipment worth $50K. Earl and Randy are giddy at that news, and they immediately nab it, leaving behind a dusting of powdered sugar from Randy’s donut. The cops mistake it for Anthrax and issue a high-level terrorist alert.

Randy and Earl play around with the equipment and somehow end up in a cop car with Joy and the Cops photographer and Randy at the wheel. All’s well that ends well, with everyone peacefully watching some stolen fireworks at the end.

Although this ep had its moments – like when Randy got his head caught in a cotton candy machine and was attacked by a pack of Lord-of-the-Flies-type kids – overall, I thought it was a little boring and goofy. Too much going on. Not enough focus. And the storyline about the nerdy “I’m not gay” kid who won a ride-along with the I’m-not-gay cop? Too many throw-aways.

It didn’t even come close to the first Cops episode, which I thought was brilliant. They should have quit while they were ahead. And here's a tip for all sit-com writers: there’s not much about terrorism that’s funny.

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