Posts Tagged ‘American Broadcasting Company’

“The Middle”: Patricia Heaton Deserves Better

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009


I’m a journalist, not a T.V. sit-com writer, but still… I’ve always wished I could write for Patricia Heaton in a sit-com. In “Everybody Loves Raymond,” she took great writing and made it sparkle — as did all of that terrific cast.

And I was bummed when “Back to You,” which paired Heaton with another favorite of mine, Kelsey Grammer, went off the air, because I thought it was 80 percent as good as “Raymond” (making it better than most of what passes for comedy on T.V. today).

So I was jazzed to receive an advanced copy of the series debut of “The Middle,” Heaton’s new comedy, which debuts tonight on ABC. But the show is already being compared, less than favorably, with ABC’s “Modern Family,” which debuted last week to lots of buzz.

“The Middle” also stars Neil Flynn (the janitor in “Scrubs”) as Mike Heck, husband of Heaton’s Frankie Heck, a stressed-out mom/car salesperson. They live in Indiana with their three quirky kids. Yeah, she’s a harried mom, just trying to get it all done. And in Heaton’s capable hands, the show could rise above the sit-com masses.

But there’s that one small detail: I’d give the writing a C+. When Frankie throws a frozen pancake in the microwave, doesn’t heat it, and hands it to her kid, he complains that it’s still frozen. Heaton’s line: “Well, lick it, it’ll last longer.”

Groan.

Nice casting here, and even if this show looks a bit too much like “Malcolm in the Middle,” I’d give it a chance, based on Heaton’s obvious talents.

But please. Some good material? Because all those “Raymond” reruns remind us what Heaton can do when the writing really sings.