The Middle 5.04 Review: “The 100th”

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The Middle must be doing something right for flying under the radar of award shows for four seasons so far.  The show celebrated its 100th episode last night, which is a milestone that not many sitcoms are lucky enough to reach these days.

The Hecks’ hometown of Orson, Indiana was celebrating its own 100th anniversary with a parade that got almost everyone involved.  Frankie had one too many margaritas in a flashback to a Fourth of July party when she and Mike were roped into driving the cow float in the Orsontennial parade.  Before the parade, they shared a sweet moment, reminiscing to how they were so close to moving to Chicago twenty years ago, when they got settled in Orson along the way.  It’s moments like this that make their marriage seem like the most stable and realistic one on TV.

Axl and friends Darrin and Sean are back with their own genius company, Boss Co.  Last season they started up this company to make some extra money, and their idea to make money off of a free parade was hilarious from the get-go.  Axl is the brains behind the group, and comes up with the plan to set up a VIP area for premium parade viewing.  Of course, it is Boss Co’s fault that the cow float catches fire when it hits the power cord Axl had strung up across the street.

Sue was hysterical yet again this week.  She and her flamboyant best friend Brad were scheming up ways to get her ex-boyfriend Darrin’s attention at the parade.  Brad convinced Sue that singing “Summer Nights” from Grease would definitely make Darrin jealous.  It may not have accomplished that, but it had me in tears.  She’s not left completely heartbroken, because in the end Darrin did save her from the path of the burning cow.  It’s this eternal optimism that makes her character so lovable.

The only thing that could have made Sue’s storyline any better would have been if Reverend Tim Tom was there to give her some sage advice.  I actually wonder why Tim Tom or even Bob (Chris Kattan) weren’t in this episode.  Considering it brought back even Don Ehlert (Frankie’s old boss at the car dealership), I thought a monumental episode like this would have at least made use for two of the show’s recurring characters.

Brick entered a slogan contest with an entry that is applicable to the show itself: “Orson: the Heartland’s Hidden Gem”.   Much to his dismay, the town chose the most simplistic slogan possible: “Orson: why not?”.  I’m going to side with Brick here and say that The Middle is TV’s hidden gem.

What did you think of this episode?

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