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An offbeat, laugh track-lacking sitcom about a bizarrely dysfunctional family, the center of which is Malcolm, the middle of the two brothers who still live at home. His eldest (and favorite) sibling, Francis, boards at military school because his parents believe it will reform him and keep him out of trouble. Malcolm often has a hard time coping with his family life, but he has more troubles to contend with when he starts receiving special treatment at school after being diagnosed as an intellectually advanced genius. —Ondre Lombard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
One of the most original and funniest shows in many years. In some ways I liken this to a live Simpsons. It both encapsulates and exaggerates real life. The family is a mess, but they do genuinely care for each other. Malcolm, he of the show title, is a genius with all that entails; but, he has a family of maniacs. Brother Reese is a dim thug, but no one picks on his brothers but him. Dewey, until recently youngest, has a rich fantasy life and a devious streak that has grown with each season. Francis, the oldest, is the irresponsible one, a true rebel. He is obsessed with his mother and a mess because of it. He was exiled to military school until emancipating himself and heading off to Alaska. He has since relocated to the Southwest. Hal is the sensitive, but none too bright father; a bit like Homer, without the level of vulgarity. Lois rules the roost, and a good thing too; she's the glue that holds things together. Lois is a true force of nature. The writing and acting in this show is first rate. It is consistently funny, with a certain skewed warmth. This is not an ideal family, but it is closer to reality than most. Even the secondary characters are memorable. So many started out as one-time appearances that grew into regulars; like Craig, Stevie, Lloyd and Dabney. Next to the writing, the casting is the most amazing aspect of this show. Each part has been masterfully filled by a talented actor. The kids are more than cute, they have personality. The adults are marvels,especially Jane Kaczmarek ad Bryan Cranston. Jane is Mother Nature, a force to be reckoned with. Bryan is a master of timing and reaction, as well as an expert in the use of his voice. All of the guest stars leave an impression and even small parts have led to greater roles. The series did struggle in it's most recent season, starting out somewhat uneven; but, it found its center and came on strong in the end. The episodes leading up to the new baby were fantastic, but my favorite was Lois' fantasy of having all girls. What is even more remarkable, is that the episode was conceived by a young girl; the niece (I think) of one of the crew members. It was a brilliant idea and a hilarious episode. This series was worthy of its DVD release. Let's hope there are more seasons to follow on TV, and previous seasons will continue on DVD. And, as to one reviewer's remarks about those "trashy animated shows" that precede Malcolm, the Simpsons is still the finest show on television and the greatest series to emerge in modern television. It is funny, intelligent, insightful, inspiring, annoying, bombastic, crude, vulgar, sweet, sentimental, and wonderful. It is anything but boring. Malcolm owes some of its initial success to the presence of the Simpsons, but stands on its own merit. If only the rest of television comedy could be this good. If only television could be this good.
- Jul 9, 2003
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