Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Middle: Who Doesn't Know the Pledge?

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I know I'm not the first person to say this - but this show functions so much better when one or more of the storylines focus on Frankie and Mike. In this episode, Mike helps Brick and Frankie helps Sue, but both adults have small roles in the actual plots. Not that those plots are amazing. But, I liked this episode because it took place on this show. Finding something to do in a small town (Axl's plotline), going crazy to get tickets to a concert in "the big city" (Sue), and taking part in something that could get you somewhere (Brick) are all things that are very The Middle. Sometimes the episodes could take place anywhere... other times they have to be in the suburbs, but still Anytown, USA. But, we are still often treated to episodes that are so quintessentially "middle of nowheresville" that they really bring out the original premise of the comedy very well. And, they sometimes manage (like this episode does) to gently remind us of the important role of family, which is sadly lacking in many of today's family shows.

The Middle "The Concert" (S03E16): [I'm starting with Axl because his storyline was the funniest.] Axl drives along with a couple of buddies when they pass a speed limit sign that tells you how fast you're going. Axl makes a comment about how slow 15 mph is, so the guys decide to try and break the speed limit on foot. [classic small-town, nothing-better-to-do activity.] They can't seem to top 11 mph, though. Axl gets it up to 12 mph by stripping down to his boxers, then up to 15 by wearing a really tight outfit. So, because he thinks he'll really be able to break the limit, the guys invite a bunch of their friends out... but when everyone arrives, they find that the sign has been removed. [Ain't that always the way!] The guys are left to find something else to do... like lob bottles. After they hit a car, they run... with all three hitting 16 mph or more in the caption! [hahaha! LOVED this part!]

[Now, Brick, since I was to save Sue for last.] Brick wants to compete in the spelling bee again, and Mike offers to coach, as long as Brick will stop whispering. [haha] Mike gives Brick horrible distractions while they study. When the classroom round comes, Mike acts rather cocky to another parent, and Brick messes up "reindeer" by spelling it "reindear," which eliminated him immediately. [who dings a bell when you get the word right??] Brick doesn't want to go back to school since he'll be embarrassed, so he looks into private schools and even homeschooling, though Mike says that they've already taught him everything they know. [I had a kid in my high school have a similar situation. He was known as one of the best violinists in school and he talked about spending his senior year at a big music academy. Well, he didn't get in, and rumor had it that he didn't feel he could face everyone at school, so he dropped out. He never went to college or anything, though last I heard he was a property manager and had a family.] Mike tells Brick that it's good to feel disappointed, since it'll make you stronger. [I thought that Mike did a pretty good job of giving Brick advice, which he normally doesn't do so well.] Mike offers to take Brick to school, but while he's there, the teacher insists he lead the Pledge of Allegiance. Turns out, Mike only knows the beginning... mixing in "America the Beautiful," some Bible verses, and part of the traditional wedding vows. [I wasn't 100% sure whether he truly didn't know it or if he was trying to take the attention away from Brick... but after thinking about the scene, I really think that Mike didn't know it, which surprised me quite a bit!] 

Sue tells her parents that Justin Bieber is coming to Indianapolis and she'd like to go. They tell her that she'll have to come up with the money, so she comes up with a list of things that she could cut back on (though none really amount to much savings). Frankie gives in, since she can't imagine a happier Sue. [aww.] They try online and on the phone at the same time, but a poorly depicted captcha word costs them too much time. Sue crumbles to the floor, only to be re-energized when a local radio station announces that they will be selling 200 tickets. The catch? The standard protocol for concert tickets... camping out on the concrete, which doesn't thrill Frankie. [only once in my life have I bought tickets the day something went on sale... and, though I didn't "camp out," I was first in line at my location and was able to snag four seats, fifth row center... I was SO EXCITED!] They're about 174th in line at the beginning, but people start cutting in line. [I love that Sue counted!] Frankie wants Sue to cut with her, and although Sue fights it, she goes anyway. It doesn't work, though, because the woman Frankie tries to act like she's with calls her a cutter and Frankie gets brought to the end of the line. Luckily, since Sue is so unnoticeable, she stays up there and is able to buy two tickets. [you're kidding me! I know that we're supposed to believe that Sue just blends in all too well, but this was a bit ridiculous, don't you think?] Frankie gets all ready to go to the concert with Sue (even joking with Mike that she has "Bieber Fever"), but it turns out that Sue is planning to go with Carly instead. [I was kinda proud of Frankie for not taking it any worse... though I was a bit taken aback myself... where was Carly all episode?]
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