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Holiday Preview: Heck the Halls with The Middle's Festive Family

The Middle

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.

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First Look: Stuck in The Middle With Brooke Shields

Brooke Shields

Watch your back, Frankie Heck! When Brooke Shields' trash-talking, beer-guzzling, chain-smoking neighbor from hell Rita Glossner returns to The Middle on October 17, it's with a vengeance.

"Everyone thought Rita was in.... read more

Roush Review: In Praise of ABC's Other Modern Family

The Middle

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."

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Ask Matt: Terra Nova vs. Fringe, Awake, USA's Leading Ladies and GCB

Mary McCormack, Frederick Weller

Send questions to askmatt@tvguidemagazine.com and follow me on Twitter!

Question: Just wondering about Terra Nova and the rumors that they'll be shopping it around to another network. It took them pretty much forever to get the first season prepared, I'm assuming because of the special effects. If they wind up on another network, that probably means a smaller budget, faster production, fewer dinosaurs, more focus on the people, character-driven stories, etc. Right? Sounds entertaining to me. (I do confess, though Terra Nova struck me as a bit of a mess in some ways, I was looking forward to seeing how the story played out.)

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A Day Out With The Middle Kids

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.

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Critic's Guide to Wednesday TV: Nearing the End of Survivor and X Factor

Ozzy Lusth, Edna Ma

Some thoughts about what's on tonight, starting with the reality contests. Was CBS' Survivor just teasing us with that trailer that showed Edna the Meek possibly upsetting Ozzy the Cocky in the next Redemption Island challenge? We'll believe it when we see it, but it would be nice for something unexpected to happen. The final Upolu 5 have stayed boringly, rigidly loyal to their game plan the last few weeks, but now that it's down to the next-to-last episode (8/7c) — the finale airs as the usual multi-hour extravaganza on Sunday — all bets presumably are off. Could anything keep Coach from making the finals? And if Ozzy somehow is bounced as well, that would make the climactic tribal council more interesting — which isn't the same as memorable.

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The Guide to Wednesday TV: A Middle Christmas, State of Play Returns, and More!

Emily Vancamp

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 ... read more

Video Exclusive: The Middle's Frankie Sticks Her Foot in Her Mouth

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:

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Cheers & Jeers: Why Doesn't Everybody Love The Middle?

Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton

Cheers to The Middle for proving it belongs at the top of the sitcom pack.

Want more Cheers & Jeers? Subscribe to TV Guide Magazine now!

The ABC comedy's Wednesday stablemate Modern Family won Emmys in every eligible category over the weekend, while Patricia Heaton's Indiana clan didn't earn a single nomination. What the Heck? Maybe because... read more

The Middle Season Premiere: Not Everybody Loves Raymond

Ray Romano, Patricia Heaton

Turns out, not everybody loves Raymond. Or at least The Middle's Frankie Heck (Patricia Heaton) doesn't.

Fall Preview: Get scoop on your favorite returning shows

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... read more

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