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Oh, you stinkers!

Get a whiff of Earl tonight in a scratch 'n sniff episode with TV Guide. Now we've caught the scent of other smellicious shows.

By ERIC DEGGANS Times TV/Media Critic
Published May 3, 2007


Hand lotion. Baby powder. And cinnamon buns.

That's just a few of the odors NBC has selected for tonight's "Laugh 'n Sniff" version of My Name is Earl.

Of course, there's no way to know why this stuff is significant until we see tonight's episode, which features flashing numbers telling viewers when to scratch the scent card provided in this week's TV Guide.

(If you're too cheap to grab the magazine, go to Earl's area on NBC.com, find the items described around your house, and sniff when indicated.)

It's a typically cheeky gambit for a show that has defied the odds - turning a plot line that sounded like a one-note Saturday Night Live skit into one of network TV's most underappreciated comedies.

These days, instead of trying to buy good karma by making up for all the bad things he's done in a life of pretty crime and trailer park living, Earl Hickey (Jason Scott Lee) is trying to take care of his oddball crew of working-class buddies, including a homicidal bombshell of an ex-wife, her crab-cooking husband, his own dimwitted brother and his ex's children.

And though I expected the worst when scratching the blank spaces on TV Guide's scent card - Do you really want to smell anything from a show mostly set in a strip club and a trailer park? - turns out this gimmick and guest stars such as Marlee Matlin playing a deaf lawyer have kept Earl from completely turning into a televised version of Raising Arizona.

Still, I wondered one thing: What if other shows tried the scratch 'n sniff deal?

The Sopranos

Gunpowder and pasta are the obvious ones, but I'm more interested in what the show's resident metrosexual, Paulie Walnuts, smells like when his moisturizer and carefully applied hair cream is in full effect.

Second on the list is the smell at Nuovo Vesuvio, Sopranos pal Artie Bucco's restaurant; you can't watch these wiseguys dig into piles of steamed clams every week without wanting a sample. And, much as I hate stogies, a whiff of Tony Soprano's signature Cohibas would be a must.

American Idol

Don't you wonder what Simon Cowell smells like when he steps onstage, fresh from taking candy from small babies or crushing the dreams of aspiring performers? I would love to sniff whatever's in Paula Abdul's Coca-Cola cup, just to be sure.

And the scent of Sanjaya Malakar's hair - that's gotta be like a little slice of heaven.

Lost

No jokes about Hugo's armpits, here. Risky as it is to make a scratch and sniff card for a series about people stuck on an island for months, I would dig the scent of that island breeze as the Losties dodge the Others. And some of my female friends assure me that, no matter what hunky bad boy Sawyer smells like, they wouldn't mind getting close enough to take a whiff.

Looks like the brain trust at the networks and TV Guide have got a few things to work on for the next sweeps month.

 

Preview:

Laugh 'n Sniff

The My Name is Earl episode airs at 8 tonight on WFLA-Ch.8.