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DVD Review

DVD cover

Malcolm in the Middle
The Complete Fourth Season


Starring: Jane Kaczmarek, Bryan Cranston, Christopher Masterson and Justin Berfield
Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises
RRP: £29.99
Certificate: 12
Available 11 March 2013

It’s the start of a new year and the chance of a new beginning for Malcolm as he prepares to enter high school, knowing full well that there is an inevitability that either his overbearing mother, Lois, or his well-meaning but childlike father, Hal, will do something which will lead to further social isolation. Meanwhile Malcolm’s brothers are having their own life changing experiences, Francis has turned his back on his old rebellious way, settling down on a dude ranch. Reese’s behaviour veers more to the deviant, while Dewey watches it all happen...

Malcolm in the Middle: The Complete Forth Season finally finds its way to DVD. This season was originally broadcast in 2002. The show had run for three award winning years and although the growing age of the child cast meant that they would inevitably have to be seen to change school and deal with the vagaries of moving from childhood to their teenage years, the concentration on Frankie Muniz (Malcolm) had left Reese (Justin Berfield), Erik Sullivan (Dewey) and especially Francis (Christopher Kennedy Masterson) falling into repetitious patterns, becoming increasingly ill-defined as evolving characters.

The same could not be said of Jane Kaczmarek (Lois) whose powerhouse performances of anger, frustration and love, when dealing with her family remained one of the comedic high points of the show. Likewise Bryan Cranston (Hal) continued to make the perfect man-child foil for Lois. So, season four saw the show take a differing path by widening up the scope of the show and the inclusion of some semi regular new characters.

The season contained its regular share of buffoonery, contained in intertwining story arcs, which involve Lois’s pregnancy, which culminates in the show's last episodes, Francis’s growing maturity as he works on the ranch and Malcolm coming to terms with girls, all the while remaining superbly frustrated at being a genius in a family of idiots.

The season’s twenty-two episodes are presented across three DVD’s and with so much to squeeze into so little, the set comes with absolutely no extras.

The half hour show keeps its level of comedic invention high, with sharp and witty scripts. The cast have, by now, worn their characters like second skins.

There is a feeling that with the addition of new characters and the changes in the characters’ lives that the writers were trying to recover the third of the audience the show had lost by the fourth season, however although the show went out on a high its continuing decline in audience numbers meant it was only a matter of time before the show was finally cancelled.


Charles Packer

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