Posted September 11, 2012 by editor in Film Reviews

Malcolm in the Middle – Season 1 DVD

Malcolm in the Middle is one of those TV shows that I had forgotten about but once reminded of recalled just how brilliant it was and have the instant reaction of “isn’t this available on DVD already?”. Well apparently not. The internet informs me that due to clearance issues with the music, season 1 was released way back in 2002 in the US with season 2 scheduled to be released the following year but it never happened. Now we finally have season 1 in the UK with rumours that the following seasons are due for release in the coming months.


Casting my mind back 11 years (oh my god I am so old) Malcolm in the Middle was shown in that Friday pre-going out BBC 2 slot and I remember it being sold as a type of live action The Simpsons in the era when The Simpsons could still have some claim of being fresh and a little rebellious. Malcolm in the Middle revolved around an American family with four sons, who cause chaos weekly, and their unorthodox parents. The eldest son has been sent to military school, the second eldest was the incredibly dumb bully, the youngest was cute and possibly insane and the episodes are hosted by genius middle child Malcolm.


Having now re-watched the show I am hugely impressed and appreciative of what a great piece of television this was and still is. The show has held up surprisingly well and is potentially more subversive for its genre than it was 12 years ago (teenagers smoking and drinking openly without retribution, parents openly acknowledging their children are shits? Nowadays it’s more about dysfunction through mixed race/same sex/age difference and children are all a little too groomed with minimal bad behaviour, parents are all just struggling to be good parents and cope with their flaws not just stopping the children burning down the house). The show broke away from the studio audience format, a forerunner in this style of casual, steady cam filming with Malcolm addressing the camera directly. The family (yes like The Simpsons) were utterly dysfunctional but so recognisable. The parents Lois (Jane Kaczmarek) and Hal (Bryan Cranston) had deeply questionable parenting skills, Hal being the yes man and Lois seemingly willing to murder and/or torture all of her children. However these are parents you like, who in all their eccentricity are humorously identifiable and actually their freedom of supposed bad parenting makes you a little envious of the we are what we are attitude.


If this show was just about Malcolm it would not work nearly as well. Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) is the super smart know it all who can become irritating a little too quickly but when placed with his brothers is just another idiot. And it is the dynamics of the four brothers and parents that make it entertaining. My favourite character is the same as ten years ago, the little brother Dewy. Just his vacant expression and huge ears are enough to make you love him but throw in that he is quite simply missing a marble or twenty and he is a shining point of the show. The final episode with his scenes are bonkers and watch out for his perception of the world when he wants a new toy. Genius.


I was never an avid fan of Malcolm of the Middle and didn’t follow it right to the end. With another 7 seasons to be released I don’t think it will hold up to the quality of this first season throughout. However I will be keeping an eye out for season 2 when it gets its release, a boxset worth having on the shelf.



Lauren Cracknell