The Middle - 109 - Siblings
I love TV so much that despite making watching it my job, I still watch TV to relax. I am always on the lookout for easy sit coms which can fill my down time and The Middle has done a fine job of that in its first nine episodes. Now in real time the show is up to episode four of season two of course but following Brando's recommendation I am speeding through the show to catch up.
Not that I intend to review The Middle. It's a formula family comedy which doesn't really make me laugh. But some shows just put the light in light comedy. They are easy and enjoyable to watch because they don't try hard to be funny, they concentrate on being warm. The Middle has warmth by the bucket load and has been a pleasure to switch off to.
The show works though because of its casting. Yes the writing is solid and presents a believable and sympathetic stressed out family but without the right actors the show would feel too generic. I haven't watched much of Everybody Loves Raymond but Patricia Heaton is superb here. She seems like a very real mother and manages to chase her family around without being overbearing or shrill which is an achievement. Husband Mike (Neil Flynn) is also very good and carries most of the jokes by showing a laid back lack of enthusiasm in contrast to her. I find him funnier here attempting about one tenth of the jokes that he was asked to make as the janitor on Scrubs.
The three kids are a pretty special bunch. Children who can act well are not easy to find and each one is perfect for their role. Axel has the easiest job playing a pretty generic lazy teenager but he is fine in his role. Younger brother Brick isn't asked to play emotions very often but is excellent at playing deadpan with a chirpy demeanor. I think the real star is Sue who plays a goofy, hazard-prone girl with real enthusiasm and believably bubbling emotions.
It was her that made me want to write about this episode as I laughed out loud for the first time I remember watching the show. Axel was forced to say something nice about her and the best he could do was to comment that her head was in proportion to the rest of her body. Her excited satisfaction at this compliment was really funny and after nine episodes of establishing her shaky self esteem it seemed entirely believable and sweet.
Later on I laughed again when Mike had to fire elderly Aunt Edie. He was trying to build up to telling her when she claimed that the work helped keep her alive. Not to be deterred he quickly commented "That's nice" and carried on trying to fire her.
In addition to those gags it was another heartwarming episode about a family who loves one another but doesn't always get along. If you are looking for easy, moral TV which will deliver its action with genuine competence then this could be the show for you.
Competence is not a faint compliment coming from me :-)