There are also some very good supporting characters and guest stars to be found in The Middle's inaugural season. Chris Kattan is surprisingly good as Bob, Frankie's co-worker and best friend. It's the best he's been since his days on Saturday Night Live. Brian Doyle-Murray is excellent as the unbelievably blunt Mr. Ehlert. Alexa Vega (of Spy Kids fame) guest stars in multiple episodes as Axl's sunny (but controlling) cheerleader girlfriend. Brooke Shields guest stars in one episode as the trashy mother of neighborhood bullies and the ubiquitous Betty White appears in the season finale as a librarian out for Brick.
The 24 episodes of The Middle's first season are spread out across three discs. There are some minimal extras to be found. One episode each on discs one and two as well as four episodes on disc three have deleted scenes. You can access the deleted scenes from the special features or episode menus but you can't watch the episodes with the scenes put back in.
All the other extras are on disc three. The featurette "Raising A Sitcom Family" covers the origins of the show and features interviews with the main cast, creators, and others involved in production. Another featurette, "Sue's Best Shots" starts off as a montage of Sue's notoriously bad school pictures then continues as members of the cast recall their own school experiences. The only other extra on the set is a short gag reel.
In "Raising A Sitcom Family," co-creator/executive producer Eileen Heisler says that the title of The Middle means "middle-age, middle-class, middle of the country." It should also represent the way the show keeps itself from going overboard. It's a family comedy with some silly moments that never feels too silly. It deals with America's economic problems but doesn't let things become downbeat or serious. It has a lot of heart without feeling too hokey. The first season of The Middle is promising and a whole lot of fun. We can only hope that the show gets better as it moves onto season two.
The second season of The Middle premieres September 22 at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.