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Series premiere: The Middle

In television on 09/30/2009 at 8:33 am

Series name
The Middle

Wednesday, Sept. 30, at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Regularly airs
Wednesdays at 8:30 p.m. ET on ABC

Life in the mediocre lane in middle America (Indiana), with an average family of children who will be neither the football star nor the lead cheerleader, lead by a mom shocked by the uninspired dullness that is her life and a completely zen father.

Primary cast and crew
Patricia Heaton (Back to You, Everybody Loves Raymond) is Frankie, mom and used-car saleswoman, trying to smile while she experiences a crisis of realization that neither she nor her family will ever live up to her former hopes.
Neil Flynn (Scrubs) is Mike, the unflappable dad and husband.
Charlie McDermott (Frozen River, The Village) is Axl, the grumpy teen son, who usually doesn’t remember to put on pants and so must be yelled at. Constantly.
Eden Sher (Sons and Daughters, Weeds) is Sue, an impressively perky, though so-far unskilled joiner whose bubble of “anything’s possible” is years from being burst, if there is a god.
Atticus Shaffer (The Class, My Name Is Earl) is Brick. Remember the youngest on Malcolm in the Middle? Brick is a little odder.
Chris Kattan (Bollywood Hero, SNL) is Bob. He works with Frankie at the car lot.

But what do I know anyway? After having seen the pilot I predict…
Blah. Low-rent photocopy of Malcolm in the Middle. I appear to be in the minority, however, keeping in line with my 180-degree-wrong prediction mojo (although I might be over this hump, having completely ignored The Beautiful Life and, voila!, it was cancelled after two episodes). Heaton’s character is one-note. Her family’s quirkiness feels forced. (I did, however, laugh at the family dining images: a truth about television that I haven’t seen on much on TV.)

Other reviews
Glenn Garvin of the Miami Herald thinks the family sitcom has been reinvigorated in The Middle.

ew.com’s Ken Tucker likes it also, geez. “Remember how whiny Patricia Heaton’s Deborah got in (Everybody Loves) Raymond‘s final seasons? Well, Heaton finds a way to make that abrasive persona work in this clever show.”

Official website
Very basic.

Can’t wait for the next new-series preview?
Looks like the next new show is Three Rivers, starting Sunday, Oct. 4. I’ll be on that like my signature on the transplant card in my wallet. Or something like that.

Wondering when the other new series and returning series are kicking off?
Click here for my select list of fall 2009 premieres and other important dates. Who am I to tell you what to do, but you could consider bookmarking it…

— Denise Duguay

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