This episode was a bit of a surprise. I expected Earl to have been raised in a trailer trash environment that would do Jeff Foxworthy proud. We discover, however, that his parents, though certainly not ranked among the culturally elite, are fairly normal, upstanding members of society.
This made the father's frustration with Earl all the more believable. After all, if the apple had not fallen so far from the tree, Earl's father surely would not have been so enraged by his son's antics. The constant disappointment in his son built up over the years until it got to the point that no one single act could alleviate all the negatives in their relationship. Earl will have to earn his father's trust and respect and that is a great setup for future episodes.
Was this episode knee-slapping funny? Not really, but I don't mind at all. My Name is Earl is a rarity of a show that has more depth than the average comedy. Like teh Simpsons, it can appeal to a variety of people on different levels. And that is what makes it great!