Aw, heck. Is it really worth making a fuss over The Middle's 100-episode milestone? It hardly seems in character for a family like the Hecks of Orson, Indiana. When she's reminded that they volunteered to drive a giant cow float in Orson's centennial parade, Frankie (Patricia Heaton) whines, "This is what happens when we drink: We sign up for stupid committees. Or get Brick."
But as Orson itself expresses in a self-deprecating new town motto: "Why not?" This episode (Wednesday, 8/7c, ABC) truly is cause for celebration, as TV's most heartfelt and hilariously relatable family sitcom reflects on what brought Frankie and Mike (Neil Flynn) to Orson in the first place, while giving their lovably imperfect offspring a chance to shine in clever-to-wacky subplots. (Sue's attempt to make Darrin jealous by cozying up to her flamboyant BFF Brad is especially genius.)
The Middle is hitting a huge milestone — and so is the town of Orson.
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On Wednesday's episode (8/7, ABC) — the show's 100th — Orson will celebrate its centennial, and you can bet ...
In the spy game, intelligence is the most precious commodity. And in the world of fictional espionage, few authors of historical suspense deliver thrills with the crisp and unsparing intelligence of Alan Furst. BBC America's Spies of Warsaw, a two-part miniseries adaptation (concluding Tuesday, April 10) of his 2008 novel, loses none of its twisty allure and passionate urgency in the translation from page to screen (9/8c). Tension comes with the territory of late-'30s Poland, a country harboring refugees and dissidents in a murky culture of political intrigue, as everyone nervously waits for the jackboot to drop as rumors spread of Nazi aggression.
Drama, comedy, reality: This is one of those nights where TV is firing on all cylinders.
Let's start with the heavy lifting. One of TV's most encouraging survival stories returns with the fifth-season premiere of TNT's uncommonly gritty police drama Southland (10/9c), a network reject (from NBC's darkest period) that thrives on cable, with a sharper focus and a determined avoidance of procedural cliché.
Each episode is like a graphic tour of duty on the streets of Los Angeles, and in the opener, it's not always immediately clear if the patrol cops and detectives in the line of fire are witnessing a real crime or make believe or some other sort of scam. (One vignette involving a brawl between naked men in a sauna looks like an outtake from Spartacus.) "Treat it like a circus," seasoned training office John Cooper (Michael Cudlitz) advises his latest ride-along, an Afghan War vet with too much attitude. The media circus threatens to consume Cooper's former partner Ben Sherman (Ben McKenzie), newly decorated and enjoying the attention a bit too much. Grounding these characters in the mundane distractions of unblemished real life, Detective Lydia Adams (Regina King) is adjusting to single motherhood with...
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.
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.
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 ...
Patricia Heaton, Julie Brown
The Middle's Frankie is in for a big surprise on Wednesday's Christmas episode.
In our exclusive clip, Frankie (Patricia Heaton) jokes — and eventually sings — to her friends that her husband (Neil Flynn) never gets her anything for the holiday. But this year is different. Mike, who has enough of her mockery, reveals his secret gift in the middle of Frankie's trash-talking, much to her shock.
Check it out:
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...