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Question: I appreciate how you are one of the few critics who recognizes how good a family sitcom The Middle is. I'm not American, but I can so relate to the Heck family, and they really hit it right out of the park with the family dynamics. Frankie and Mike's 20th anniversary was another terrific episode, and I want to give kudos to Atticus Shaffer's performance when Brick told Axl why books are so important. Strong words that captured a lot from the joys of reading to getting to know the struggles of a kid who's socially inept. I'm happy this show lasted this long and will reach 100 episodes by next season. Now that the show has enough episodes for syndication, do you think The Middle has a chance to grow even more in the ratings? The current ratings are fine and actually lives to up its title, as it's right smack in the middle of the ratings race, not a blockbuster but a self-starter that does solid numbers. But the show is just so good, so I really hope more people will discover it eventually. — Jecoup
Patricia Heaton and Neil Flynn
While ABC's The Middle may not be the most popular, acclaimed or honored family comedy on TV, it is almost certainly the most relevant (and often the funniest). Especially in an election year when so much attention was focused on the financially strapped middle class, the travails of the down-but-not-out Hecks of Indiana resonate like no TV family since the Conners of Roseanne.
Frankie Heck is not going to let the pinch steal Christmas.
The Middle's stretched-thin, harried mother (played by Patricia Heaton) has a scant $20 to spend on gifts for her three kids this year. Ever the problem solver, she cracks to her unflappable quarry-manager husband Mike (Neil Flynn): "I'll fake my own death!" This way, she says, when she appears very much alive on Christmas morning, her children will be so happy they won't care that there aren't any presents.
Hitting the 300-episode benchmark is an impressive achievement for any series, but by the standards of the Law & Order franchise, SVU still has a ways to go before it approaches, let alone overtakes, the longevity of the still-missed mothership, which clocked more than 450 hours before NBC's abrupt pulling of the plug two years ago.
What the heck? Has a TV family ever been more appropriately named than the Hecks of ABC's spectacularly funny, oh-so-relatable and woefully underappreciated The Middle? They can never catch a break or catch up with the frantic pace of chaotic family life. Always strapped for cash, too overwhelmed to keep their ramshackle house in order — "I'm too ashamed to even open the door for the UPS guy," whines the hilariously harried mom Frankie (Patricia Heaton) — they are a mess.
They are also a riot, mostly because they feel so real. Wrapping their third and best-yet season tonight (8/7c), with the Hecks scrambling to make the house fit for an impromptu family wedding, unflappable dad Mike (lovably gruff Neil Flynn) tries to calm his wife's hysteria: "We'll just do the bare minimum like always."
Charlie McDermott and Atticus Shaffer
There may be sitcoms that are flashier, edgier or more ironic than The Middle, but you'd be hard-pressed to find any that are funnier. Since premiering in 2009, ABC's hit comedy about the Hecks, a working-class Midwestern family of misfits, has proven that it doesn't take a right- or left-coast sensibility to produce laughter — thanks in no small part to the performances of Charlie McDermott (Axl), 21, Eden Sher (Sue), 20, and Atticus Shaffer (Brick), 13. TV Guide Magazine played hooky with the trio for an afternoon of mini-golf at Castle Park in Sherman Oaks to find out if they're equally entertaining off duty.
Some thoughts on a few of the shows that got 2012 off to a (mostly) promising start. Which means I've already forgotten that ABC's grotesquely unfunny Work It exists — and if you thought that was bad, wait until you see (or better yet, don't) next week's comedy disasters: CBS' offensively stereotypical Rob and NBC's rancid hangover of a dud Are You There, Chelsea? But for now, let's accentuate the (mostly) positive.
Leave it to oddball Brick Heck (Atticus Shaffer) to stumble across the reason for the season: "Mom, you never told me church was based on a book." The Middle (ABC, 8/7c) leads off a night of holiday-themed sitcom episodes with an instant classic in which Brick's incessant questions about the Good Book lead sister Sue to enlist pied-piper roving Reverend ...
Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton
Turns out, not everybody loves Raymond. Or at least The Middle's Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton) doesn't.
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And viewers will learn why on the one-hour season premiere of the ABC comedy, which reunites Heaton with her Everybody Loves Raymond husband Ray Romano.
"We hadn't gone to him before," co-creator and executive producer DeAnn Heline tells TVGuide.com. "As a new show, you want to give it time to develop. Plus he was busy with his show — he's a busy guy. But, now, all the stars aligned."
Romano appears via flashbacks that are brought on by a Heck Family camping trip. As Frankie and Mike (Neil Flynn) take the kids into the woods, the couple reflects on the last time they went camping — on their honeymoon.
"Ray plays a friend of Mike's who happens to stumble upon them during their honeymoon and causes problems," Heline says...
Chord Overstreet may not be returning to Glee's McKinley High next season, but he won't be skipping class altogether.
The actor-musician will guest-star as a newbie Orson Elementary school teacher to young Brick Heck (Atticus Shaffer) on the Wednesday, Sept. 28 episode of ABC's The Middle, TVGuide.com has confirmed. Ralph Wilkerson (Overstreet) is enthusiastic, energetic but perhaps a little too forward-thinking for the elder Hecks' tastes.