Top positive review
Season Four Has Some Great Episodes, Great Guest Actor Stars, Malcolm is a Little Mopy in This Season But Dewey Starts to Shine
on July 24, 2015
Season 4 as a whole wasn't the best one of all the seasons of Malcolm in the Middle, but it does have one of the best episodes of the entire series in its first one, Zoo. Basically the family have a coupon so go to the zoo, Malcolm doesn't want to go and is in a sour mood (something he is for a lot of this season) but doesn't have a choice. Hal and Lois run into an old flame of Lois', Reese torments a goat only to get head-butted by another, the two continue to clash throughout the entire episode, and Dewey disappointed that the tigers aren't out jumps the fence into their enclosure with Malcolm following to make sure he leaves before anyone sees them since he was made to look after his brother. Of course two tigers see them.
Season 4 of course is the season Francis and Piama meet Otto and Gretchen who invite them to work at their ranch. It is also the season that Malcolm joins Reese at high school. Unfortunately for him his arch nemeses, the Kreylboyne class teacher also has taken up a role at the high school as the dean of discipline or something like that. Malcolm is looking forward to a fresh start socially, but since his nemises has roped in his parents to volunteer on the first day, Malcolm will soon earn the nickname of Stain. Famous actors that appear in this season include Christopher Lloyd (Back to the Future), who plays Hal's eccentric rich father at a family reunion, Hayden Panettiere, (Nashville), who plays Jessica, a girl in the same grade as Malcolm who is hired to babysit the three boys due to Hal having to take a second job and outsmarts Malcolm and his brothers time and time again. The biggest guest star of season four is of course Jason Alexander (Seinfeld), who plays Leonard, a homeless older version of Malcolm's negative personality who taunts him into playing chess against him in the park.
Other memorable episodes of season 4 include an episode where Lois keeps hallucinating that her children are girls and how different hers and Hal's life would be while on a shopping trip. Reese is sent to prison for the day as a last resort but doesn't get affected the way he should be. With Hal and Lois having a last weekend away before their lives are locked with looking after a baby, Reese decides to throw a party and invites thugs who set up a meth lab in the garage and take the boys hostage. The boys and Hal visit Francis at the ranch, only to learn he takes his job seriously and has grown up to be too responsible for the fun they expected to have. A firework special effect is one memory that has never left me over the years since I first saw that episode. Hal also takes up speed walking in the park where he dons an exercise outfit that looks like something from the Alien movie franchise.
Lois' mother moves in just as she is due to give birth and ropes in Stevie's dad and Hal's other poker/barber shop quartet buddies to convince her to leave, while Hal mistakenly thinking a car show is on takes the boys to a wedding show where Dewey gets his revenge. Dewey starts to show more and more of his intelligence in this season that will really show in the next one. The season ends with the family joining a church to get free day care so Lois can return to work and they can pay the bills.
Although still more brilliant than pretty much any other TV show for the duration of the season, I found Malcolm's character to be somewhat annoying in how he was just whining the whole time for quite a few episodes, sure life has always been unfair for him but these moods were his own doing. He of course gets called out on this when facing being eaten by the tigers, when his girlfriend hides him in her attic and at other times. Lois isn't in a couple of episodes but the writing of those was probably the strongest so that wasn't a big factor. There are no special features on the DVD and although there are quite are 22 episodes that go for approximately 22 minutes each, one is a clip show. I'd rate this DVD set of season 4, four and half stars.
Malcolm in the Middle works because the cast come across on the screen as being believable as a family. Many sitcoms there's a kid who doesn't quite seem right or the parents don't seem like they really would have hooked up in the first place, but although they're a dysfunctional family, Lois and Hal seem genuine soul mates, and both but Lois especially as a parent to the boys. It is also one of those rare shows where you can watch the episodes out of order and it doesn't really matter, other than the boys looking older, or there being an extra one, the only thing that really changes is Francis' job.