Stuck in the Middle

Fox's most promising sitcom of the season offers a middle-class family comedy for the middle decades of the last century

Clearly, the lesson of the painfully awkward--and, ergo, prematurely canceled--Freaks and Geeks was that nobody actually wants to experience ninth grade again. In comparison, Malcolm is fundamentally adolescent in its power fantasies. Both the most childlike and the most adult figure here, Malcolm strikes an impossible equilibrium that is going to wreck this show if it's held too long. Why not let him attain full geekiness and see if he can still maintain rapport with the audience? The real problem of Malcolm right now, in sum, may be that it tends too avidly toward the middle.

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