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Malcolm in the Middle: The Complete Fourth Season [DVD]
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This release is intact as originally aired with no cuts, and with the original music.
The complete fourth series of the US comedy following the struggles of Malcolm, a boy with the IQ of a genius, and his family. Though Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) has a love of learning, he dislikes being singled out for his intelligence as it attracts the ire of his schoolmates. As if being labelled a geek due to his association with the other smart kids of the school wasn't bad enough, Malcolm has to deal with the stresses and strains of a family led by his mother, authoritarian control freak Lois (Jane Kaczmarek), and his caring but childlike father Hal (Bryan Cranston). The episodes are: 'Zoo', 'Humilithon', 'Family Reunion', 'Stupid Girl', 'Forwards Backwards', 'Forbidden Girlfriend', 'Malcolm Holds His Tongue', 'Boys at Ranch', 'Grandma Sues', 'If Boys Were Girls', 'Long Drive', 'Kicked Out', 'Stereo Store', 'Hal's Friend', 'Garage Sale', 'Academic Octathalon', 'Clip Show 2', 'Reese's Party', 'Future Malcolm', 'Baby: Part 1', 'Baby: Part 2' and 'Day Care'.
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Top customer reviews
A high school genius growing up in a crazy family and unfair world. That is the premise, but this quality show offers so much more. The characters and situations are quirky and amusing, it's just like an exaggerated version of real life. Kindly dad Hal abdicates control, and escapes work mundanities and family chaos, by retreating into a world of his own where he is still, or wants to be, a boy. These scenarios provide much of the show's lighter comedy. Mom Lois is loud-mouthed, opinionated and a control freak, making her unpopular, yet she keeps the household running despite the chaos. It is fascinating watching the interaction of the characters and seeing why they behave as they do. For example, the parents seldom give their lively boys quality attention, so it's hardly surprising the boys are mischievous at times. It's also interesting to see the psychological effect of the grandparents on Lois and Hal. Eldest brother Francis and feisty wife Piama land on their feet at The Grotto dude ranch, where he begins to act more responsibly. Reese is an underachiever, the school bully, he's hopeless at school but when it comes to inventing schemes to cause trouble and mischief he's outstanding. Traumatised Dewey also escapes into his fantasy world, where he imagines he is treated better. The show is also populated by eccentric larger than life characters for example Ida the grandma from hell, Lois's workmate Craig Feldspar, Otto and Gretchen, and Malcolm's gifted class friends including loyal best friend Stevie, and tough teacher Mr. Herkabe.
Stuck at the centre of all this is cynical Malcolm, IQ 165 but easily outwitted by his mother. He's a genius and is in the Krelboyne advanced class at school, where he is surrounded by geeks, but just wants to be a 'normal' popular teen. He's put upon, not listened to, his needs not met. He craves popularity but can be tactless, critical and complaining. He has a low opinion of others, yet is genuinely hurt when other people don't like him. Malcolm worries about everything, and a lot of the show's comedy stems from his reactions to the situations he finds himself in. He can also be charming, loyal and fight against the odds for what he believes is right. His tirades against unfairness can make him unpopular and some of the show's darker comedy stems from watching him set himself up for inevitable disappointment.
The show is insightful, amusing, well written and incredibly well acted. Frankie Muniz is perfect as feisty, loquacious Malcolm, acting with passion, contrast - for example the contrast between the genius Malcolm is and the normal teen he tries to be, and plenty of subtle details, and he is excellent at conveying Malcolm's nervousness and embarrassment. His natural charm offsets some of Malcolm's less likeable characteristics, which are understandable in context. I love the way Malcolm engages the viewer with his commentaries to camera embellished by various apposite facial expressions. Check out Malcolm's facial expression to Hal in 'Kicked Out' at 7'40 - is that a mix of annoyance, frustration, pity and disappointment? Jane Kaczmarek and Bryan Cranston (Lois and Hal) are outstanding, really plausible and convincing as the parents. Their acting is so good they could easily pass off as a real married couple with four lively boys! As Malcolm's brothers, Christopher Masterson (Francis) Justin Berfield (Reese) and Erik Per Sullivan (Dewey) are also outstanding in their own unique ways, with their own range of appropriate memorable facial expressions, and also bring plenty of talent and commitment to their roles, which they get into with assured confidence and gusto. Special mention must go to Justin Berfield playing Reese as thuggish with a touch of vulnerability. The cast work and blend together really well, which is so important
Clearly a lot of thought went into the richly varied music soundtrack which is usually appropriate and adds to the scene it accompanies. Snappy editing and sound effects emphasise a cartoon-like aspect of the show. At its best the show is something special, and benefits from repeated viewings because there is so much to appreciate and enjoy.
Episodes are widescreen 16/9 and NTSC (not PAL). While static picture quality is mostly good, unfortunately many of the episodes suffer in that panning shots, even very slow panning shots, are marred by rapid bright flicker and picture judder. Fast movement before a still camera causes similar effects. These flaws are a bit annoying in what should be an enjoyable watching experience. Some of these flaws are not evident watching the same episode on DVDs of digital TV broadcasts recorded solely for personal use. The lack of optional subtitles is a shame. Despite these criticisms other people will probably find the picture quality perfectly acceptable and I would not wish to deter anyone from buying the DVDs. A qualified 5 stars then, it saddens me to be critical, but the review is for the DVD product supplied.
I also enjoyed the two "Baby" episode where Lois goes into labor while Hal and the boys are at a bridal exposition (which Hal had mistaken for car exposition). Also, we have yet another clip show episode in this season which is nice as i enjoy clip show eps.
Series 4 – Episode 1, Zoo, 3rd November2002
Series 4 – Episode 2, Humilithon, 10th November 2002
Series 4 – Episode 3, Family Reunion, 17th November 2002
Series 4 – Episode 4, Stupid Girl, 24th November 2002
Series 4 – Episode 5, Forwards Backwards, 1st December 2002
Series 4 – Episode 6, Forbidden Girlfriend, 15th December 2002
Series 4 – Episode 7, Malcolm Holds His Tongue, 5th January 2003
Series 4 – Episode 8, Boys at Ranch, 12th January 2003
Series 4 – Episode 9, Grandma Sues, 2nd February 2003
Series 4 – Episode 10, If Boys Were Girls, 9th February 2003
Series 4 – Episode 11, Long Drive, 2nd March 2003
Series 4 – Episode 12, Kicked Out, 9th March 2003
Series 4 – Episode 13, Stereo Store, 16th March 2003
Series 4 – Episode 14, Hal's Friend, 30th March 2003
Series 4 – Episode 15, Garage Sale, 6th April 2003
Series 4 – Episode 16, Academic Octathalon, 13th April 2003
Series 4 – Episode 17, Clip Show 2, 20th April 2003
Series 4 – Episode 18, Reese's Party, 27th April 2003
Series 4 – Episode 19, Future Malcolm, 4th May 2003
Series 4 – Episode 20, Baby: Part 1, 11th May 2003
Series 4 – Episode 21, Baby: Part 2, 18th May 2003
Series 4 – Episode 22, Day Care, 18th May 2003