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Thread: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis




    I actually wanted to save this episode, but now I´m even glad that I couldn´t resist watching it since it was just great!
    Malcolm in the middle is a show that touches your heart without getting soppy (and most Sitcom finales tend to be soppy). The final episode was really funny, nice and emotional in a very beautiful way and after watching it I was kind of happy, because the ending just made me smile as everyone was finally content (except for Hal and Lois maybe) And as Wildcat said, it is a bit of a shame that Reese didn´t get a better job, but as long as he´s happy with it I think it´s okay. I´d really like to know if the next child is going to be a boy or a girl, but obviously that will be one of the mitm mysteries (unless there will be a reunion movie)
    Overall a great episode and finale. I watched it 3 times in a row (I don´t think I´ve ever done this with an episode) and although I´m sad that there won´t be another season I think the good thing is that it ended on a high note.



  2. #22

    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

    Just to leave no one wondering what Malcolm was all about, the show came right out and said it:
    Malcolm: "Most of us have been dreaming of this day for years. The day we leave childhood and achieve independence. But even if we move thousands of miles away, there's no escape. Our families are coming with us. They'll be with us forever, in our habits, our gestures, and in the choices we make. So, we'll never be set free. We'll never be alone."

    "The choices we make": There was a basic life-changing choice to be made in the Pilot episode, and another one in this finale, both involving Malcolm and Lois. On the face of it, Lois imposes the choice on Malcolm; in reality, she faces him with a challenge, and, after much railing, Malcolm accepts the challenge. In the Pilot, the challenge was easy to understand. Here, it takes a lot of stretching of facts to buy into the way Lois frames the challenge. For starters, Malcolm is going into Nuclear Biology ("College Recruiters"), yet Lois has him starting out as district attorney. Then there's the surprising view of what awaits Malcolm at Harvard: "Now you're going to learn what it's like to sweep floors and bust your ass and accomplish twice as much as the kids around you, and it won't mean anything, because they will still look down on you. And you will want so much for them to like you, and they won't. And it will break your heart!"

    "It won't mean anything" is quite a stretch. Sure enough, a poor kid working his way through Harvard will be looked down on by the rich kids, and Malcolm does have a streak of vanity that will make that disdain sting. But if he indeed outshines everyone and finishes first in his class, his Harvard degree will be a ticket to brilliant success, and that can take a lot of the sting out of class snobbishness. What's at work here is a total reversal of Lois' motives for making Malcolm go the brainiac route. In the Pilot, Malcolm didn't want to be a Krelboyne. Lois chose the gifted class purely for reasons of personal advancement: "You don't understand the world yet. Sweetie, life does not give you a lot of chances to move up." As for making common cause with the humble folk: "Any kid who makes fun of you is a creepy little loser who will end up working in a car wash." What starts out as a plan for joining the elite ends in a stirring outcry against the vanity of elitist ambitions. Why the drastic change? Perhaps it's a rethinking of what it means to be successful, a reading hinted at by the figure of the absurdly egotistical millionaire entrepreneur who delivers the graduation speech.

    Malcolm didn't have to accept Lois' challenge. It's Hal and Lois' fault he's going to have to mop floors at Harvard--between them, they couldn't beg borrow or steal $8000 to make up the shortfall in grant money. The fact he could have rejected the challenge is what gives his acceptance its enormous power, what justifies the look of unbounded pride in Lois' face during Malcolm's speech.

    In a brilliant stroke of story crafting, the farcical climax of Reese's scheme is what gives overwhelming impact to the dramatic climax of Lois and Malcolm's confrontation. As she delivers her plea for the forgotten downtrodden, Lois is covered in filthy mire, looking like some bedraggled guttersnipe straight out of Les miserables. Reese in the finale is in his customary role as Funny Guy Number Two, sharing with Hal the job of delivering the laughs; he gets the job done here with a classic-Reese deranged scheme. But his story has been carefully crafted to highlight him as the exact polar opposite of Malcolm. His goals are as lowly as Malcolm's are lofty; he achieves at the end a perfect happiness with a secure mindless job and a perfect roomie who loves to eat what Reese loves to cook. And, just as Lois inspires Malcolm to rise above self-advancement, Ida coaches Reese in dog-eat-dog ruthlessness. It's by design that Malcolm is shown sarcastically rooting for Francis to kill Ida. They view her as a demon to be exorcised, the primitive part of their own natures that they wish they could eradicate ("There's no escape"). In sharp contrast, Reese embraces Ida's primeval brutality. Then, in one of those delightful Malcolm ironic twists, the series' final image is the two boys in identical guise as janitors holding a mop. Polar opposites, yet also brothers. Starkly different figures, made from the same clay.

    Lots of other stuff happens. By the standards of tightly written Malcolm episodes, this one is overloaded. But it's okay here to pull out all the stops. This finale is a grand display of quirky characters and off-beat themes found nowhere else on television. I can easily imagine some viewer who never watched Malcolm before, looking in just out of curiosity and thinking "Wow! Look what I've been missing!" I can easily imagine such a viewer wanting to get the DVD. Well, then, let's have that DVD!

  3. #23
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    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

    I've just seen it. What a fantastic ending!

    At the moment I'm just too moved to post any other comments, I'll need one night to really think over it and the like... epressed:Sad:

  4. #24
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    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

    LOL I thought your review would never end, you've raised so many valid points here. I never viewed Malcolm's life as a personal challenge that he chose to take--maybe he didn't even realize, at first, that he had accepted this challenge. Yet, as you mention, he's kin with Reese, and that is what makes MITM MITM--the ability of the writers to seemingly perfectly naturally write these totally polar opposites into the same script and deliver the entire package in a period of 22 minutes.

    I'm all for those DVDs!

  5. #25
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    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

    Didos on those dvds. Im still waiting for the grand day when they are released to us.

  6. #26
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    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

    Hello, everybody. I posted here a few times before, ages ago, making a name for myself via my family trees, but then lost interest in the fandom (horrors, I know!)... but I recently got interested again, because the show was coming to an end.

    And then, of course, I missed the finale! *Curses self* I'm posting in this thread because the finale sounds like it was really, really good. *Curses self again*

    I don't mind being spoiled (why else would I be reading this thread?), but I can say I'm a little surprised about Lois's sixth pregnancy. And also irked because we don't know what the sex or name of the baby will be. *Grumbles*

    It also appears I'll have to update the family tree again.

  7. #27
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    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

    I really loved Lois's whole speech at the end. Does anyone have it or know where I could find a transcript of it?

  8. #28
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    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

    Hi Super3man1--Welcome to the forums. Members sometimes post transcripts for the eps, but no one has done one for Graduation yet. Maybe someone will have time to create one soon so keep an eye out. BTW, feel free to pm me, yardgames, or J. if you have any questions about the forums.
    .

  9. #29
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    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

    "Around here," a boy genius named Malcolm once informed the audience of his pilot episode, "being smart is exactly like being radioactive." That quip was accentuated with a well-timed overhead camera trick, one that is cleverly repeated during the third act of "Graduation." It's one of several nods to the pilot which occur in the longtime-coming series finale of Malcolm In The Middle, but the episode retains the signature smirking irreverence and thankfully never descends into mawkish sentimentality. Series creator Linwood Boomer, who wrote the pilot, steps behind the camera to direct (from a Michael Glouberman script) and even appears in an amusing unbilled cameo. With all the pieces and the players in place, this glorious curtain call to the seven-years-running show comes marching down the aisle with all the pomp and circumstance it can muster.

    The title leaves little to the imagination as to the storyline. Malcolm and Reese are graduating, with Malcolm predictably achieving Valedictorian status (Stevie Kenarban is Salutatorian, natch). Smart move on the writers' part to require Reese to repeat the twelfth grade earlier, so he would be set up to graduate alongside his genius brother, who has been accepted to Harvard. Hal's dilemma, as per usual, is on the financial end. Even with various grants in place, the remaining balance of Malcolm's tuition is hefty, so he spends much of the outing jumping through hoops to secure loans and raise funds. In one hilarious sequence, he is even seen attempting to strike an ill-advised bargain with a loan shark (the aforementioned Boomer cameo, credited with the dubious pseudonym "Enzo Stussi") in a shady warehouse.

    Since Reese will also be leaving the fold (he is to move in with Craig Feldspar after graduating), the brothers realize that the Malcolm/Reese/Dewey household dynamic will soon be no more, so it's time to dispose of a particularly damning piece of evidence which they have held onto for years in the interest of a mutual-blackmail check and balance against one another (it is a doctored X-ray which once caused a cancer scare for Lois, devised to comparatively lessen the severity of poor report cards at the time). But Dewey, who will remain at home with Jamie for the time being, reneges and spirits the artifact to safety, so a decoy is ceremonially burned by the trio. However Francis, who has come home with Piama for the graduation, stumbles onto Dewey's ploy and appropriates the trump-card X-ray for his own interest, though Dewey is able to counter-blackmail it back into his possession again.

    Francis has a secret of his own, anyway. He has recently accepted a corporate office job, replete with tedious data entry duties in a small cubicle, which he absolutely adores. But Lois must not know--surely it will appear that he has caved to her insistence that he get a "real" job. When Hal cottons onto his firstborn's predicament, the weary cubicle veteran conspiratorily agrees to keep mum to Mom about it. And Reese, who is giddy about his temp job as assistant custodian at the high school, schemes with the visiting Ida to concoct the most noxious mess imaginable so that his projected clean-up of the same would prompt his promotion to permanent janitor.

    While Malcolm agonizes over composing his Valedictorian speech, Abe arranges for a former classmate who is now a self-made millionaire to speak at the graduation ceremony. Quickly realizing Malcolm's potential, the man offers the lad a lucrative position with his company, provided that he begin immediately. But that would mean foregoing college, and Lois won't have that, so she infuriates Malcolm by turning down the offer for him. Meanwhile, Reese and Ida have concealed the fifty-gallon drum of horrible stuff in the back of the mini-van, and as the assembled clan prepares to leave, the cannister unexpectedly ruptures, covering everyone in a vile brown pasty substance. And as the family hoses off in the yard, Lois informs the sulking Malcolm why she didn't want him taking the easy path vis-a-vis the job offer; the expectation is that he will one day achieve the presidency, and he won't make a good leader if he accepts any free rides instead of busting his ass on the journey.

    Later, the mostly cleaned-up family attend the ceremony. The repeat of the bird's eye camera shot from the pilot reveals that no one is willing to sit near them; they're clearly radioactive, at least in a figurative sense. There's a clever bit where the issue of the family's undisclosed last name is addressed--and unrepentantly left to mystery, as a screech of microphone feedback drowns out the surname when Principal Hodges introduces Malcolm for his Valedictorian speech. And as Malcolm begins his cynical but ultimately heartfelt speech, Lois beams proudly at her 165 I.Q. son.

    The finale's pay-off comes during the cathartic "three months later" epilogue, a short succession of expository vignettes revealing how life has panned out for all. Dewey and Jamie hide in a closet as Lois is heard railing in outrage at their latest bit of mischief; with their older brothers gone, the day is theirs. Meanwhile, Francis is seen bitching at Lois over the phone that he'll get a job when he's damn good and ready, while Piama hands her office-bound hubby his brownbag lunch as he prepares for another day at the white-collar grind. Reese and Craig have bonded deleriously, and despite the failure of his 'cannister of filth' gag, Reese has managed to be installed as full-time janitor at North High School anyway. As nice dichotomy, Malcolm is also doing custodial work, albeit at Harvard, as part of a work-study program to assist with the tuition; his phone conversation with Reese is cut short as he ditches the mop bucket and scurries off to Calculus. All of the above, by the way, are underscored by Citizen King's "Better Days," the free-spirit ditty used in the final section of the pilot.

    And what of Hal and Lois? The tumult of their eldest sons now a thing of the past, they are resolved to live happily ever after with only Dewey and Jamie to raise. As a wistful Hal waits in bed, a horrorstruck Lois emerges from the adjoining bathroom. What's wrong, he inquires. She silently holds up a home pregnancy applicator; a tight shot reveals a result of positive. Hal's grimace and girlish scream are classic Cranston and arguably the biggest laugh of the outing.

    Say the words "series finale" and there inevitably will be expectations by fans--resolutions of certain plot points, appearances by key supporting characters, and above all general closure for the show. On those points alone "Graduation" is a fully functional series closer. Not every fan's wishlist is fully realized; my own pet wish was that they'd somehow work in a cameo from Commandant Spangler. But what Linwood Boomer and company have delivered is so roundly satisfying and hilarious that quibbling over bells and whistles is irrelevant. We may never know what their last name was, but we do know that for seven seasons we watched and we laughed as this family of loveable mischief-makers insinuated themselves onto our screens, probably into our VCR's (certainly mine) and/or TIVO's--and most definitely into our hearts--in a delectable chemistry of brilliant, single-camera television magic, made flesh by a so-perfect cast. Without a live studio audience and needless accompanying laugh track.

    And if you're a lip-reader, when the principal speaks Malcolm's last name into the microphone and the feedback obscures it, it looks like he's saying Nolastname; I swear it does.

    Reprinted from my original review at http://malcolminthemiddle.tktv.net/E.../synop/22.html
    Read my episode reviews (mid-season Three and onward) at:
    http://malcolminthemiddle.tktv.net

  10. #30
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    Default Re: Graduation: Opinions & Analysis

    Man, you made my cry all over again. I don't think I'll ever be able to watch that episode without bawling!

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