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Malcom in the Margin

One of the odd things about Malcolm in the Middle is that it's a show where one character jumped the shark before the rest of the show. If anyone else can think of another example, tell me, but in most cases it's the dominance of one character--say, the Fonz--who causes the decline, and it's usually the case that the original main character fades into the background.

But here, Malcolm went over the edge. He quit being geeky and started trying to be cool, his storylines got stupid (I'd pinpoint the moment as the arrival of the obnoxious new teacher) and over the cliff he went.

Thankfully, the rest of the show didn't follow. Actually, the Francis character, who had wandered off into a stupid subplot in Alaska, came back strong at the dude ranch, Reese took off as an amazing comic character in his own right (no longer just an exaggeratedly stupid version of the Wonder Years older brother), Bryan Cranston as Hal continued to be amazing, and Erik Per Sullivan as Dewey just got better and better. In fact, Dewey is probably the best child actor on TV since Ron Howard. But the kid is now twelve, so puberty might be cruel. I just pray it's not Danny Bonaduce cruel.

If the writers are smart, they'll just keep Malcolm in the middle distance, and let the rest of the show shine.


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