For its first season and a half or so, My Name is Earl was great. Episodes were fun, and the characters were likeable. But just when the show seemed to be headed towards ongoing formulaicness, things started happening. Overarching storylines became more and more important, characters started really developing and changing. By the time "The Trial" came, we'd learned new, surprising, and wonderful things about the characters, and they'd really become multidimensional- far more than the simple stereotypes they could have easily been. This season two finale really captured all of what elevated Earl to a new level- yes, it's funny, with the same great humor that's been consistent all throughout the series. But the episode was surprisingly touching as well, hitting an emotional core not completely realized by the series until that point.
The season ended with a shocker (spoiler): Earl is in jail, presumably for a long time, and his list is in total jeopardy. The act itself was surprising, and very touching considering Earl sacrificed himself for Joy, and best of all there isn't anyone outside the show that can have any clue as to how season three is going to handle it. But with great episodes like "The Trial," a deft blend of comedy and even drama, it's hard not to have faith in the showrunners that Earl will continue to be one of the best shows on TV.