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STUDIO: Warner Home Video
RATED: Not Rated
RUNNING TIME: 518 minutes
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reel
The Heck family lives in the middle of Indiana. They manage.
Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Eden Sher and Atticus Shaffer
Middle America is this weird land that uptight Coastals have dubbed fly-over country. Those that dwell among the rows of corn and barley fucking despise them. The so-called liberal bastions of New England and beyond return their anger in kind. The Middle is a show that takes this sentiment and tries to turn into a passive-aggressive modern comedy about awkward family dynamics. The Janitor that hated Zach Braff and Raymond’s bitch headline a cast of middlin’ performers.
Last year was pretty shitty for television. LOST went off the air and America was learning to queer it up with Glee. Outside of Glee, there were few unique voices to be had in the mix. There were the folks that tried to push Modern Family down our throats and their efforts were awarded with Emmys. For those that couldn’t keep up with the intensity of a blended family, they were able to find The Middle on Wednesday nights. The Middle is exactly what it sounds like. A mediocre show that states its purpose within its title.
The Middle is a concept show built on monotony. Nothing ever changes for the Heck family and you don’t really give a shit. When the series premiered it was billed as a Patricia Heaton vehicle. Everyone remembers how well that went for Back to You, right? A couple of lacklusters episodes, a Chris Kattan guest-spot and Neil Flynn desperately missing Bill Lawrence led to a re-evaluation. Especially when Modern Family was making this show look like a ratings chump. Everyone was sad at ABC until they took a look at everyone that wasn’t a frumpy CBS cast-off.
The show hit a wall halfway through the first season when they realized that the focus needed to turn away from Heaton and towards the cartoonish energy generated from the kids. The oldest one was a dullard, the middle child was an awkward girl and the youngest kid got to look cute. If you remember anything from this season, it’ll be the last episode of the year with the Betty White guest spot. Little Brick has to find a missing library book or Betty White’s going to use her powers to hold him back in whatever grade small children exist. I’m terrible with kids and their aging patterns.
Middle America loves kids and they like non-threatening comedy. Naturally, ratings picked back up and the mindless drones turned this dreck into their next According to Jim. Some of you guys might be asking why I haven’t gone over what happened this year save for the finale. Well, it was a pile of nothing. Here’s a typical setup. Mom Dumbass struggles being a happy woman, mother and employee. The dad does something. The kids have the B plot to try and find their way in the world. In the end, they all get back together to discuss the day and dream about the sweet taste of a shotgun in their mouths.
First seasons are always a rough patch, unless you’re Cheers. I’m willing to cut a lot of shows slack, because it takes time before you find your foothold or get brutally cancelled. The foothold found by The Middle is the ill-defined patch of terrible that has made Chuck Lorre a wealthy man. Watch every episode of this first year back-to-back and I swear you will see a conspiracy forming straight out of The Rand Corporation. No sane person could honestly slap together so tepid of a show without an ulterior motive. Since the show started back for its second season, I stopped to notice something. The commercials all target the usual suspects. Dish-washing lotion, home appliance, Right-Wing political ad and Disney. Rinse and repeat during every commercial break until the episode’s over.
There’s one thing I can say for bad television and it becomes truer with each passing year. It’s easy to make a bad show and slip it on a third-rate network. When you’ve got a recent history of crap and a fanbase of people leaving the television on for background noise, there’s a market to be had. Lowest Common Denominator television has gone beyond the age of Trash TV and the White Trash appeal. The White Trash market has been tapped out, as the consumers in that demo have already sold their televisions for meth money.
The American networks have learned that they can tap the dwindling middle class for a vacant eyed consumer base. The shows offer nothing to say, but they bare a slight resemblance to the viewer’s life. They smile at familiarity and are all too willing to forgive story flaws. Those viewers continue to munch on random consumables and stare dead ahead at the screen. If they were to move, they might miss a moment of Must-See TV. Before you bitch, I know that’s an NBC catchphrase. It’s just that I don’t pick up on ABC marketing slogans because I try to avoid inane entertainment.
contains some deleted scenes and featurettes. It’s nothing much, as you’re just seeing cut material that served no purpose. Add to that some self-serving EPK fluff that only goes to show how old Heaton is looking these days. The A/V Quality is solid, as a strong standard-def transfer balances color depth well. The Dolby track is a little weak, but it carries the dialogue. In the end, what more could you want? Oh yeah…a better show.