>> The Middle (PREVIEW)

Show: The Middle

Episode(s): Life Skills

Genre: Comedy

Starring: Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Charlie McDermott, Eden Sher, Atticus Shaffer

Network: ABC

Airdate/Time: January 16, 2013 8:00pm

Rating: 1.85 (out of 4.00)

Grade: C-

Official Site

Who knew if you combined the janitor from Scrubs with the wife from Everybody Loves Raymond, throw in some kids who’ve had some steady work, but nothing breakthrough, and before you know it it’s a hit with four seasons under its belt.

My experiences with the show have been, no pun intended, middle ground. I liked it, but didn’t love it. Enjoyed it, but never went out of my way to catch it on its slotted day and time. That being said, when I went into the preview of episode 11 of the shows 4th season, I wasn’t overly expectant in either direction.

The episode is titled Life Skills and is basically focused on the kids. Axl and Sue have wound up in the same class together and have been paired up for an assignment. Axl, the slacker, is doing all he can to avoid working, and Sue, as always the good student, is stuck doing most of the work. Meanwhile Brick (I mean seriously, Axl & Brick) is being tailed by Dr. Fulton (played by Dave Foley) who is taking notes on young Brick. Fulton is trying to get Brick to act more social with his classmates. Brick gives it a shot. Meanwhile a tree branch has fallen on the family car and Mr. and Mrs. Heck are attempting to get the insurance company to pay for the damage.

I’ll be honest here. I used to watch Everybody Loves Raymond, a show that wound up on several channels in syndicate. Patricia Heaton’s was my least favorite character because she was always whining and complaining. I felt sorry for her because her character was written so unlikable. Having her narrate this episode was like nails on a chalkboard to me. I know, I know. It was her character and not her. In any case the parents on the show had very little to do with the episode other then to act as filler. Brick’s story was cute. He’s an old man trapped in a young persons body. That played out well and the chemistry between Fulton and Brick was decent enough. Axl and Sue was a yawner until presentation day which reminded me of every Saturday Night Live Alum’s movies, but maybe it wasn’t enough to drag this episode out of mediocrity.

I get the whole “Average Family” bit and thought it was a pretty decent angle back when Roseanne did it in the late 80’s or Malcolm InThe Middle did it in 2000, and that now more then ever people are connecting with that formula. Unfortunately it felt like the adults were sleepwalking through the episode and the kids were just trying to make it work but succumbing to comedy stereotypes we’ve seen before. As always with The Middle, I was slightly entertained, but can’t see myself going out of my way to catch the show on TV.


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