Timeslot (Premiere date in parenthesis)Wednesdays @ 8:00 pm on ABC
SYNOPSISThe Hecks are a middle class family living in the middle of Indiana, just trying to keep their heads above water. Emmy-winner Patricia Heaton stars as a wife and mother of three in a comedy about raising a family and lowering your expectations. “The Middle” stars Patricia Heaton as Frankie, Neil Flynn as Mike, Eden Sher as Sue, Atticus Shaffer as Brick and Charlie McDermott as Axel.
The series is produced by Warner Bros. Television. Eileen Heisler and DeAnn Heline are executive producers/writers and Werner Walian is producer. The pilot was directed by Julie Anne Robinson.
IMAGE GALLERY & VIDEO PREIVEWS
REVIEWSPlease note that these reviews may contain spoilers.
|Gordon McDougall's Take|
|I think I could love this show. It has the same sort of quirky feel that made Malcolm In The Middle so much fun (although it has no "Malcolm In" it ;-). It has Patricia Heaton, who was great as Debra in Everybody Loves Raymond, and Neil Flynn, who was great as Janitor in Scrubs. Together, they are Frankie and Mike Heck (in that order), middle-class marrieds in middle-America with three fair-to-middlin' kids. Actually, they're losers. Delightfully so.
Axel is the 15-year-old boy who is a loser by default, because, well, he's a 15-year-old boy. Their daughter, Sue, is socially inept in just about every way you can think of (and probably a few you haven't yet). Then, there's the youngest, a boy named Brick, who is just plain peculiar. He whispers his thoughts into his knapsack, which his teacher says is his best friend. (He's actually quite reminiscent of Dewey from Malcolm In The Middle.)
This single-camera comedy certainly benefits from that style of comedy. No laugh track needed here, considering all the quirky goings-on. You have to watch and pay attention, though. If you're web-surfing or otherwise distracted during the show, you're bound to miss some pretty funny and subtle sight gags. I also enjoy the little things about suburban family life in this day and age that are thrown into the pilot. For instance, mom mutes the TV during the commercial break of Dancing With The Stars and says, "Okay. Commercial. We've got three minutes to hear about everyone's day. Mine...SUCKED. Next."
As often happens, especially in a pilot that may be trying too hard, everything builds to a near-cataclysmic climax, but by the time we reach Sue's choir recital gone horribly wrong or Super-mom's arrival at Brick's show-and-tell day (a little too early), I was laughing at the absurdity of it all. There was a nice bit near the end where it seems mom might actually be enjoying a moment of carefree joy, but then...something happens.
Rounding out the cast are a couple of SNL alumni, Chris Kattan and Brian Doyle-Murray (and Bill Murray's brother), who work with Frankie at a crappy used-car dealership. All in all, a terrific cast performing clever and crisp writing. I hope there's still room for TV like this in the increasing trend towards reality and other cheaper programming.
TV Gord's Verdict: On Wednesdays, it follows Heaton's former Back To You co-star Kelsey Grammer in Hank, which may not be a good thing. Hank has a very different "vibe" and The Middle may not be a good companion. As an instant fan, my hope is people will watch The New Adventures of Old Christine on CBS and switch over to The Middle on ABC and /A\ at 8:30. I think those two shows compliment each other. (Conversely others may choose a reverse switch and pair Hank with Gary Unmarried.) I truly think this show could be a hit...if the audience finds it and gives it a chance.
|About Gordon McDougall|
TVGord is a radio host at 580 CFRA in Ottawa. He does a weekly segment about TV every friday which you can hear in MP3 in the '580 CFRA Interviews' section of their website, www.cfra.com
|Randi Dertzo's Take|
|As I mentioned in my review of Hank, I’m not a fan of sitcoms in general and after seeing the few pics about the show (see above), especially the one where Patricia Heaton is dressed as a superhero, I wasn’t too thrilled on seeing this comedy.
Sometimes however, you have no expectations and you end up pleasantly surprised. This was the case for me here. All of the characters I saw have something that made them special and made me want to know more about them. From the daughter who tryout in various things and always end up screwing up to the little kid that’s his teacher calls “clinically corky” to the brief appearances of Chris Kattan, in all cases, I found them interesting.
This will probably be the only sitcom where I’ll probably be watching the following episodes.
Other shows airing at the same time as Hank are So You Think you Can Dance (results) on FOX, America's Next Top Model on CTV and The CW, Gary Unmarried on CBS, Bones on Global and new show Mercy on NBC and Citytv.
|Rating: One of my personal favorites!|
|About Randi Dertzo|
I'm the founder of this website and I also owns ChannelCanada.com and Viewers.ca, a discussion forum about television in Canada.