Dewey's Opera--critical analysis - Page 2
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Thread: Dewey's Opera--critical analysis

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Los Angeles, CA


    I love how the replies from others were childish or apathetic towards the original post. Well, that's the Fox forum for ya.

    you wanna follow the laws of man?
    bloody apron, leg of lamb.
    it's so hard to win...
    when there's so much to lose.

  2. #12
    we_dye Guest


    I'm really surprised to see that the Fox MITM forum is still in existence, bearing in mind that the show ended over a yer ago. Not many postings though; and those limited threads are more about who is hot and the favourite question which is always occurring on there, probably since day one: "Which state do they live in"?

    Well, my answer to that question is a "terrible one". :-)

    But seriously, I hadn't been on that site for over a year, and the first posting i see after I log on there is from somebody asking where on the web they can find a nude picture of Frankie Muniz. It instantly reminded me of why I hadn't been on there for a while. The post was clearly not from Paris Hilton. :-)

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by MalcolmReeseDewey View Post
    I'm not sure if i saw that when season 6 came out though i might have done. It looks a very good episode. Hal and Lois join Dewey's amazing opera!!
    Quote Originally Posted by yardgames View Post
    No, Hal and Lois are Dewey's amazing opera!
    Poor Dewey. His Musical gifts are not recognized by the rest of the family. The Opera, "The Marriage Bed" WAS hysterical. Loved the part when Lois said to Hal in the audience. "Gee, I hope he doesn't embarrass himself."

    Sorry if I seem a bit behind on this discussion. I posted this in another thread and was directed here.

  4. #14


    A great solidification of Hal and Lois' relationship as something truely heartfelt and genuine. Dewey's composition of the opera was also a wonderful signification of his acceptance of his family situation, and I believe marks the end of his "neglected" woes - tying in nicely with his "Morp" subplot.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    The Netherlands (i.e. 'Holland') ;)


    I'm surprised (and relieved) to find the Fox forum still up in 2010, but for the sake of content preservation, I've copied dappanah's comments below for easy digestion and enjoyment:

    General MITM Discussion - Dewey's Opera

    From: dappanah 2/21/2005 10:24 am

    To me, this is the best episode of season six. It certainly is the best one to form an analysis into cultural ideology. I don’t quite know what it is about Dewey, but I find that the episodes where he takes the central role, the better ones.

    I liked Hal and Lois in their opera performances. It was an illustration of high culture within the popular culture form that is a comedy TV show. It backs up a theory I once had that the boundaries between high and low society through the arts are becoming somewhat more transient. Cranston and Kaczmarek’s approach to contemporary opera was both convincing, yet at the same time was done with a sense of irony for the sake of comedy appeal. I believe that if they should find it hard to get work after MITM, they can always go on Classic FM TV.

    I found the references to previous episodes interesting. The suit that Dewey was wearing at the end of the episode was too short for him, which reminded me of the episode Funeral. It also connotes that the dressing up in formal clothes is something that Dewey does on a very seldom basis.

    Also, Dewey’s enthusiasm for his play, and the way he interacted with his school mate – performers was something we had seen before in season one. His actions were very similar to those of Eraser-head (the redheaded Krelboyne kid, we all found irritating) in Shame. Without the DVD to hand, I cannot quote the former character precisely but it kind of went something like this: “Its 1969! …get into the atmosphere! … The slide rule is about to be replaced by the pocket calculator…” (Shame)

    The reference to the overall concept of the show by Dewey’s actors; I found was very significant. It was almost as if the overall context for the show was been criticised from within, by the characters, who themselves were approaching Dewey’s family as outsiders.

    Dewey even says: “The characters are just stuck”, implying that they are not significant enough to make an opera that is going to be appealing. Chad suggests that the plot should be sexed up with the inclusion of a machete. But what is interesting is the fact that the very characters they are referring to have also been paramount to the success of six seasons.

    In another scene, Dewey is looking for his “satisfactory resolution”, and we get an insight into his parents in terms of their approach to relationships and empowerment.


    Other remarkable scenes would be those featuring Jamie and the girl accross the lawn. There was no need for a sense of dialogue; as it was all in the eye contact.

    Again, with the connection to high cuture within a popular culture text, I'm pretty sure I've seen such images before. It has been imitated many times in advertising. Although it was Nessun Dorma that was playing in the background, I'm not sure of the opera from which the scene originated. Could it perhaps have been Carmen? [all the music is from Giacomo Puccini operas as far as I know: Turandot, Gianni Schicci and Madame Butterfly, ed.]


    The only negative I picked up on was Dewey's reaction to seeing the opera on TV. Although Erik is a great actor, his performance there seemed a little melodramatic to me. The way he was speaking analytically sounded similar to the words of my lecturers. Although past characters like Lloyd and Dabney would have pulled it off perfectly, I just wasn't convinced that such words could be spoken by Dewey.


    I do think that Erik is a great actor. I kind of now what you mean about his performance in season 1 though. Dewey's character back then was mainly based around his actions for comedy appeal rather than dialogue. In fact, in some episodss of the early seasons, he doesn't speak many words.


    Applying my positive voice again, I want to make suggestions to the ways in which the character of Dewey was portrayed in this episode. I’m not referring to the dialogue so much, as I am his body language and the appropriate use of camera angles.

    The view we get as an audience of the character is one that is ideational. Especially when we see his initial ideas for his perfect opera. It is utopian, with a sense of ambition and meeting his possibilities. The way in which the camera moved back and forth between Dewey’s vision and the Dewey working contributed to this sense of atmosphere.

    The look of concentration in Dewey’s face as he is writing his opera reminds me of the famous painting: “The Young Artist” by Philip Alexius de Laszlo (1919). To a certain extent, Sullivan even resembles “The Young Artist”, featured in the artwork, which is actually De Laszlo’s son. This is purely accidental, I know, but the point I’m making is the similarity in terms of how Dewey seems full of inspiration. In the case of MITM, Dewey’s art is music as opposed to a painting. Note the way in which Dewey holds his pencil. The writing instrument is a symbol of empowerment and fulfilment.

    'The Young Artist' by Philip Alexius de Laszlo (1919)

    I loved the scene towards the end of the episode where Dewey is in the background of his utopian play with Hal and Lois performing before him. He is an observer, and If you pardon the pun, Dewey really is ‘in the middle’ of his creation. The shot of him in the dark, as a shadowy figure whilst his parents are performing in the light was just beautifully done. This together with Dewey’s smile of accomplishment and self satisfaction of his work commitment is in my opinion, also a form of modern art. - The scene sets a mood of ambience.


    Dewey and Offenbach: The character’s representation of a high culture discourse within a popular culture form.

    There is yet another reason why I love the character of Dewey so much. I’m now losing count of all his attributes I admire in Malcolm’s younger sibling.

    I have come to realise that Dewey is fundamentally more than just a character in a sitcom. He also portrays a representation within a wider context.

    Perhaps the best example to back up this claim is from the episode Malcolm Visits College. I pride myself on looking beyond the obvious plot and looking at the signifiers and the signified within the subtext.

    Dewey does not merely perform ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’ [he means the famous 'Can-Can' (the French dance) from this operetta, which has often been performed separately, also jazzed-up by for instance the Brian Setzer Orchestra ed.] on his piano, but he also epitomises the French composer Jacques Offenbach. Did anyone else pick up on this connection when the episode first aired?

    When Offenbach was starting out as a composer, no one appreciated his talents. Coming from a working class background he found it impossible to get his operas performed in the very snobby locations that were the Paris opera houses. The composer got around this set back by establishing his own backstreet theatre.

    In this episode of MITM, Dewey is in a very similar position. No one appreciates his talents either. Hal doesn’t realise the talents that his son possesses and his line “That’s very cute – but we just cannot afford a piano”. At that stage, the parent probably assumed that a piano would just be another toy – rather than the youngster’s ultimate instrument of desire.

    And of course, the scene in the piano factory outlet store also backs up that Dewey’s talents are not appreciated. To have talent is simply not enough to be part of the elitist world that is classical music. He cannot afford the piano, so he could not be part of such a scene.

    As with Offenbach, Dewey also gets around his situation by building his own organ out of household objects, as opposed to building the theatre. The very fact that he is playing in his garage to a small audience is again a metaphor for the French composer.

    It is important to note that Dewey only plays the chorus of ‘Orpheus in the Underworld’. The full piece is actually a very fine collaboration of music. However at around 17 minutes, the piece in its entirety would be almost as long as the episode itself.

    The classical music scene has often been associated with elitism. Offenbach was one of the earlier composers to make it available to mass society. The character of Dewey is today doing very much the same thing. His performances add an element of high culture within the popular culture text that is the situational comedy TV show.


    I've also noticed a paradigm shift in MITM. Back in the early seasons, the show was about the life of a boy genius (Malcolm), and the troubles that he encounters - both those of normal childhood, and those associtad with being gifted.

    Although Malcolm's family were heavily featured, the show wasn't really about them. It was about Malcolm.

    In recent times, this has changed. The role of the other family members, especially Dewey have become increasingly significant. Perhaps even more so than Malcolm.
    Last edited by Richiepiep; May 10, 2010 at 06:25 PM.
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