Malcolm in the Middle has signed off after seven seasons on the Fox Network. It has experienced the highs and lows of sitcom life. Sadly, it has been in something of a tailspin for the past couple of seasons. I can’t quit put my finger on it, but the focus seems to have been lost. The show has been getting further into the oddball comedy and away from the family oriented core that it was built upon. The chemistry has just fallen apart, but fortunately the finale holds it together for a somewhat fitting finish to the series.
The series finale sees Reese and Malcolm preparing for graduation. Malcolm and his parents are trying to find the finances to send him to Harvard. Reese sits across the table gloating about his new job, the assistant janitor at the high school that he is graduating from, not to mention that he is moving in with Craig.
Malcolm moves on to preparing his speech, as he is the valedictorian. As he writes, Hal goes to a loan shark looking for the remaining money needed for Malcolm to get his education. In typical Hal fashion, this does not go as planned, resulting in his slinking away into the dark. Back at the house, Francis arrives with Grandma in tow, which is never a good combination.
Now we must move on to the plans, what is an episode of Malcolm without some crazy scheme? The trio of Malcolm, Reese, and Dewey revisit a prank from the past that has hung over them like an albatross for years. They made Lois think she had cancer. The three decide to finally put the evidence to rest. They burn it in the backyard, or at least they think they do. Reese is trying to find a way to extend his janitor job, which he learned is only 30 days due to union restrictions. He sets about creating a vile stew of dead animals, feces, and whatever else he can find, with the goal of making a massive mess at the school.
During a pre-graduation dinner with Stevie and his family as guests, Malcolm is offered a six-figure job, but he would have to forego going to school. As Malcolm is about to accept, Lois steps in and turns it down. To say Malcolm is upset would be an understatement. The next morning, as they are about to head off to the ceremony, Reese’s bomb goes off, covering everyone from head to toe in the putrid concoction. As they try to clean themselves, we get one final blowup between Malcolm and Lois. First, Malcolm airs his displeasure about his life and not getting the job earlier, Lois hits back with her presidential plans for her smartest child. It was actually a pretty good speech.
The clan does eventually make it to the graduation. Malcolm begins his speech, but the scene quickly jumps ahead three months. Francis is enjoying his new 9-5 job, without telling his mother. Reese found a way to get the school’s janitor fired, opening up the position for him. Malcolm is doing the best he can as he works through Harvard. Finally, Hal and Lois enjoy two fewer kids in the house. The peace is short lived as Lois discovers she is pregnant.
And dysfunctional life goes on.
I can’t say I am sad to see this series end, as it had a good seven-year run, but I am sad to see how this series entered a doomed tailspin towards the end. The show lost its heart somewhere. The chemistry broke down, as the writing seemed to betray the show. The one thing that was always consistent through the years was Bryan Cranston. His portrayal of Hal was genius. He was sweet, goofy, and hilarious. His steady comedy never swayed as the show fell to shambles around him.
Life is not fair.