Awesome: Malcolm in the Middle
- Lois gets an awe-inspiring one in a flashback to when Francis was a toddler. She is on the phone with the pediatrician and on the verge of tears because no matter what she does she just cannot keep Francis from getting into trouble. Behind her, Francis manages to escape from his high chair and rustle up a box of matches and some lighter fluid. Just as he starts to strike the matches, Lois turns around, and we see the first instance of the 'Lois Face'. She calmly hangs up the phone and walks over to take the matches from Francis, along with his teddy bear, and then walks over to the fireplace. She sticks the bear in the fireplace and a horrified Francis watches it burn, while Lois explains that fire is dangerous and will hurt him. Then she goes on to promise that she will do anything and everything in her power to keep him safe, even if it makes him hate her, because that is how much she loves him. Two smoldering, melted, plastic eyes fall onto the floor. Francis scrambles back into his high chair. Lois gets up and goes to bandage her hand.
- When Lois' car starts to stall while she's tracking down Francis for ditching military school, she gets it running again just by bellowing the word "MOOOOOVE!!" That's right, even nonsentient objects know better than to screw with Lois.
- After years of matching wits with Malcolm and beating him every single time, Jessica's expert manipulation is at last used against her after she teaches Malcolm how to employ her technique on his mother and it backfires. What makes it all the sweeter is that Malcolm wasn't even trying to ruin her plan — he finally got the better of her and it was completely by accident!
- 'Lois's Makeover' - Lois spends an episode being called 'slovenly' by her bosses and pressured to wear more makeup at work, leaving her looking increasingly ridiculous. As she leaves for home near the end of the episode, a man comes up to her and asks, hesitantly, if he can "help" her. He then asks what it will cost him, and if using his car would be cheaper.
"You think I'm a hooker! ...THANK you! Come with me. (cut to her chewing out her boss) A PROSTITUTE! This guy was convinced I was a PROSTITUTE! You know, ever since I got your stupid report, I have been feeling like everything I ever believed in was wrong. Well, I think this little incident gives both of us some much-needed clarity. I'm going to go home now, I'm going to wash my face, and when I come in to work tomorrow I'm going to do the same extraordinarily good job I've been doing all these years. I'm going to do it in my 99-cent mascara and, if the mood strikes me, a hair clip. And that's it. And if that's not good enough for you, so be it."
- Oh, and there's one final touch after she leaves:
- The main plot of "Pearl Harbor" is definitely this. At first it seems silly that Hal is competing with a neighbor who always outdoes him in Christmas decorations every year. Hal instead decides to decorate the house in honor of Pearl Harbor day, since December 7th is not that far from Christmas. His neighbor, being the Jerk Ass he is, decides to construct a better decoration for Pearl Harbor. Hal and Dewey decide to clean out the bait shops and put worms all over the decorations. The next morning, the neighbor wakes up to dozens of blackbirds emerging like the Japanese fighters and laying waste to his yard to get to the worms, and pelting him with feces. Ultimate revenge indeed!
- Stevie got his in the episode Dinner Out. He, Malcolm and Reese play the circle game, and Reese constantly tricks Stevie in a number of clever ways, resulting in Stevie being punched repeatedly. After a while, Stevie appears to concede defeat, and goes off crying. Reese, feeling guilty, follows him... only to look through the watercooler and see Stevie on the other side, making the sign. He then punches Reese so hard he knocks him FLYING, and when he pretends to offer to help him up, he shows Reese the sign AGAIN. Then, with a cry of "Reap... the whirlwind!" he grabs Reese by the shirt and punches him repeatedly. Game set.
Stevie: Crying... On command... Got me... A cable modem!
- Come to think of it, Malcolm got another one at the Talent Fair. For those who haven't seen it, his talent was to answer any math problem the audience could throw at him, no matter how complicated, on the spot, instantly, without a moment's hesitation. Even the trick question "What's the capital of Iceland?" didn't make him hesitate.
- Grandma Ida's crowning moment also happens to double as the only decent thing she has ever done in her entire life. When she realizes that Dewey is about to be hit by a truck, without even stopping to think about it, she clamps her cigarette in her teeth and runs to push him out of the way, losing a leg in the process. While some truly awesome reggae plays.
- Hal gets a nice moment in "Reese Joins the Army (Part 2)" after getting framed as the mastermind behind his company's massive money laundering operation (an operation involving almost every employee except Hal). During Hal's trial, Malcolm discovers a major flaw in the prosecution's story: every date the prosecution witnesses claimed to have seen Hal doing something illegal fell on a Friday. Hal — who hadn't shown up to work on a Friday in 15 years — uses mementos of his Fridays off stored in his "memory box" to completely destroy the case against him.
- Reese has one in the same episode. While participating in some war games, Reese's squad ends up captured — but Reese uses the knowledge he picked up through years of defying Lois and fighting with his brothers to untie himself and create a diversion. (He convinces another cadet to eat soil, since he knows that it would make the cadet look sick to the point of dying). Reese gets the guards to unlock the cage to check on the "dying" captive, then locks the guards up, steals the opposing team's tank, and caps it off by timing The Reveal (driving slowly up to the command tent and poking the turret through the side, before using two trucks to pull the tent apart) with his commander surrendering. Not only does Reese force the presumed victor to surrender, he also gives the order to fire the main turret for the hell of it.
- After Commandant Spangler finds out Francis has started throwing their weekly pool games, he demands a real match. This challenge puts Francis in a bad place: the other cadets threaten to beat Francis up if he wins, but Spangler threatens to cancel everyone's privileges if Francis doesn't give his best. The two of them eventually end up having a competition to see who can play the worse game of 8-ball; the pair use all kinds of trick shots to sink the cue ball at the same time as the 8. By the end of the entertaining exhibition, the cadets lose count on who lost more -- or even if either of them did.
- Francis also has the first episode where he joins the German-run dude ranch. The ranch's other employee tells him the owners are idiots and they can both slack off if they watch each others' backs, "what do you say?" At the beginning of the series Francis definitely would have taken him up on it, but after going through a lot of Character Development in the previous year his response is "I say you're fired."
- Hal deals with the in-laws who brought a live grenade into the house and ruined a new fridge (the final straw in the grief they brought to the family) in his own charming way:
Grampa Victor: Because of what just happened, you want us to loan you $3,000?Hal: Please. I know you're uncomfortable loaning to family, so let me be clear: with one phone call, I could have your asses thrown in jail for child endangerment. So, this money I'm asking for is not a loan. It's blackmail.
- When Malcolm's mother confronts a Jerk Ass RA after she insisted on sleeping over at Malcolm's university interview, the RA Breaking Speeches her by pointing out Lois' control freak nature, and that she is obviously and pathetically trying to live vicariously through Malcolm.
(Leland, the Resident Adviser of the dormitory, confronting Lois)Leland: I happen to be a control freak. If you get me fired, I can just find another job where I can be a control freak. Kinko's is hiring a night manager. Either way, I've already written negative evaluation emails of these kids to the Office of Admissions. All I have to do is hit 'send.'Kid: She overloaded a wall socket, too!(The kids abandon Lois)Leland: And now you. Any freshman psych major can see it's obvious life didn't pan out the way you thought it would. So now, to make up for it, you have to run your kid's life.Malcolm: (to the audience) I don't know who to root for!Leland: Simple truth is, you're just too afraid to let go of the one thing in your life that may be a success. But hey, you don't have to take my word for it. Why don't we just ask the other mothers here and see what they think? (Looks around the hallway) Oh, that's right, there are no other mothers here! (Backs into his room) You just cost this floor their electricity privileges. (He shuts the door, and all other lights go out)
- What follows is a transcript of said moment of awesomeness:
- Also out of slight guilt, Malcolm decides to retaliate by kicking Leland's door stating "I want some candy!" at the cost of ever going to that school. That's a huge sacrifice. As a bonus, his kicking in the door also revealed that Leland had a contraband hot plate in his dorm.
- The Reese vs. Stevie episode qualifies. Reese looks like a complete jerk when he says he'll beat up Stevie — until he reveals that he paralyzed his own legs so he could fight fair. Then Stevie shows up in the mech suit...
- For a schoolyard bully, Reese has a code of honor; he considers Stevie off-limits. He won't ignore Stevie, but he'll also make sure nobody else messes with Stevie.
- "I'm not your little boy any more. I'm your little man." The kid's mother looked disturbingly attracted at that point. (Elaboration: Dabney, Malcolm's most pathetic friend, worked out his pent up mommy issues at a paintball gallery, to the point where he was shoving paintballs up the nose of the bully who had been tormenting him earlier.)
- Another great one is when Hal is forced into slave labor by Craig for yelling at him. He rallies Craig's oppressed night shift workers to revolt against him. All set to Phil Collins' Sussudio, music which was banned by Craig.
- Seems like everyone gets one except Dewey. Well, how about this? There's the episode where he makes a full-sized pipe organ out of things he found around the house, and plays "Orpheus in the Underworld" on it. It's a decent Crowning Music of Awesome too.
- Don't forget the time when he bought the piano behind his parents back just because he wanted to play the piano. He could have bought junk food or toys, but he opted for the piano instead.
- When Dewey hits those bullies with his purse.
- A purse that he had filled with bricks.
- Also, Dewey's offered the opportunity to get retested so he can move from the Busey class back to the normal class (where he wanted to be). Instead, he rips off his shirt, rolls on the ground, and generally freaks out, so he can stay with the Buseys who need his help because they're being neglected/ignored/underestimated/used as slave labor by the teachers.
- There was also the episode where Hal and the boys are at a wedding fair, and all episode long Dewey is going around talking to random people for some reason. At the end of the episode, you find he's commandeered pretty much everyone working there into helping his massive guilt-trip to Hal that he and Lois are going to induce labour on Jamie on Dewey's birthday, which Hal completely forgot about.
- When the Krelboynes have to compete in a Knowledge Bowl-esque competition, Malcolm finds out that everyone else, on every team, will cheat to win in order to improve their college applications. Even though Malcolm initially wants to opt out of the entire thing and go home, he winds up staying and takes down everyone: he tells the Krelboynes that if they plan to cheat, they should go all-out. First he helps the Krelboynes steal the answers to the questions, then he distributes copies of the answers to the other teams. Malcolm's plan results in every team trying to out-cheat each other by answering before the quiz masters can finish asking questions. Malcolm sits out on the sidelines with a stricken Herkabe and watches with a smile on his face as everyone goes down in flames.
- In an episode where Reese is being pursued by a whole lot of police cars in a driver's ed car, he decides to end his predicament with class. So he turns into the Driver's Ed course, and does it PERFECTLY (down to doing a perfect parallel park). He then gets out of the car, makes his female co-student promise to tell everyone he got a peek under her bra, and is then tackled by about 20 police officers.
- This is also after massive character development throughout the episode, where he and the co-student had an honest heart to heart about why Reese is such a trouble maker, prompting him to end the chase.
- The Komodo 3000 firework in action.
- Another awesome moment was when Reese became a nice person. Cue all the wannabe bullies fighting for his position. Reese reclaims his title of school bully by beating up the wannabe bullies and restoring order to the school with triumphant cheer from the other students.
- The boys get sweet revenge on their in-laws for treating Lois like crap during a family reunion (with a little help from their little cousins). After Hal's family upsets Lois to the point where she hides out in her guest room and cries, the two main attackers, Hal's sisters, come along and ask if she'll help them, where they hear her crying and blame her for causing drama. Everyone's eating dinner, and next thing you know, out come all four of Lois' kids in a golf cart, perfectly calm, bursting through the "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" sign. Once their cousins unlock the table legs, the boys crash into the table and knock it down, run over all the plates and the cake, then pick up the tablecloth and drag everything on it behind them. Malcolm then turns the golf cart to knock over an easily-broken 'statue', then the brothers drive into the swimming pool, drag everything into it, and calmly go down with their ship as if nothing at all had happened. They spent the majority of the episode trying to kiss their rich grandfather's ass in hopes of getting into his will, but by ruining the party, they basically said goodbye to a ton of money to defend Lois, of all people — and they didn't even stop to think about it. (This is also the one of the few times that all of the brothers work together for a single cause.)
- This works just as much as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming as it is one of Awesome — and it also leads into Lois treating her daughter-in-law Piama with a lot more courtesy and respect (a small CMOA of its own).
- "Tiki Lounge" has several. When Lois and Hal realize they don't talk enough, Hal forces the boys to build a tiki lounge in their garage, then tells them that they're the reason his relationship with Lois has fallen apart. Hal bans the boys from the lounge, forces Malcolm to take over his mom's shift at work, and tasks Reese and Dewey with watching Jamie so he and Lois can have some time alone with each other. Later in the episode, Malcolm swallows his pride and gets over himself (yes, that Malcolm) — and, though he doesn't know it, he also teaches Lois to get over herself as well, which helps her end her argument with Hal.
- When Malcolm fails to defeat Herkabe's Krelboyne ranking system by convincing all the students to deliberately fail, he realizes something important: he can't beat the system, but he can sure as hell break it. By working harder than the other students to get to the top of the ranking system and stay there, Malcolm's genius sends the other geniuses into mental breakdowns as they try to keep up with him. To cap off his scheme, Malcolm makes sure all of the breakdowns happen just as the principal gives Herkabe his first-week evaluation. Herkabe can only look on in dismay as a group of supposedly-genius students strip down to their underwear, roll around in mud, and babble incoherently about feeling worthless.
- The boys vs. the clowns at the batting cages on Lois' birthday. After a clown pokes fun at Lois, all the boys (Francis and Hal included) get in a brawl with a gang of clowns to defend her honor... all set to Kenny Rogers' "You Decorated My Life".
- The episode "Billboard" may count as a Crowning Episode Of Awesome. To elaborate: The boys get caught in the act of drawing graffiti on a billboard of a half-naked woman by Lois, who demands that they come down immediately. Malcolm claims that they're protesting sexism, which grows popular with women who were nearby (but doesn't fool Lois one bit). The awesome begins when Malcolm and Dewey become disgusted by Reese's blatant misogyny and shun him — until Reese has a dream about a giant woman explaining to him that the women he fantasizes about aren't real. This leads to Reese having an epiphany about real women and what they deserve. As Lois finally manages to trick the police commissioner into getting the boys down, Reese delivers an inspiring (though hardly eloquent) speech about feminism. Though Lois is still planning on some harsh punishment, she's clearly proud that Reese has learned a lesson.
- The episode "Lois Strikes Back". Four girls play a cruel trick on Reese (sending him letters from a secret admirer but ending up leaving a pig on the doorstep instead, then hanging up a picture of them both with the caption "Prom King and Queen") that leaves him catatonic; the school principal does nothing to punish the girls, so Lois takes matters into her own hands. The first girl prizes her long hair, so she gets a load of glue inside her bike helmet, which results in a haircut from a hedge trimmer. The second girl has a pretty big collection of dolls, so Lois cuts the heads off of all of them and stashes them in the girl's locker, where they fall out after the locker's opened. The third girl's parents receive a call from Lois pretending to be a hotel receptionist; she says that the girl had made a reservation there with a boyfriend, then planted a bag full of condoms and sex toys near a window in the girl's house to further frame her.
- The best, however, is saved for last. Reese snaps out of his catatonic state after Lois tells him about the things she did to the three girls; they eventually decide to get their revenge on the last of the four girls together (despite Malcolm protesting their actions). With the help of a pitching machine, Lois and Reese bombard the final girl and her date with a storm of paint-filled balloons as said girl was leaving for the prom, ruining her dress and thoroughly humiliating her, with the added humiliation that her date uses her as a meat shield. All in all, it showed that — despite being a hardass — Lois would do anything for her kids.
- When a kid at Dewey's school nominates two kids from Dewey's sped class, Hansen and Zoe, for student body president as a joke, Hansen decides to throw the election by intentionally giving himself a seizure before delivering his speech. When it's time to give his speech, he goes into a violent fit of coprolalia. Instead of sabotaging the election for him, however, it causes the whole school to chant his name.
- A minor one which doubled as a Running Gag had Dewey nominate the kid responsible for Hansen and Zoe running, because, as Dewey puts it, what could be worse than losing against someone like them? Dewey then spends the rest of the episode nonchalantly doing everything he can to make sure the kid will not receive a single vote as vengeance, until the kid is an utter basket case and basically begging people to vote for him. The message: do not mess with the kids in Dewey's class, or he will destroy you.
- In Baby Part 1, Lois, Francis, and Piama conspire to get Ida out of the house before the baby is born by using her racism against her. Basically, Lois flaunts all their black friends (Hal's poker buddies) to a horrified and speechless Ida, making it quite clear they can come by the house any time they want. The clincher is when one actually hits on her ("...I looove that wagon you draggin'!"), causing her to run out of the room screaming her head off. Of course, this gets subverted moments later when Lois's water breaks just as Ida was about to leave.
- In Baby Part 2, Ida comments that one of Lois's black friends could pass for white with some make-up. He begins to explain how he makes more money in a week than she probably has her whole life, he has a nice house and a wonderful family and is pretty much better than her. Ida's response? "Big deal, so you're a drug dealer." His response? "Booga booga booga!" Ida runs off screaming again.
- During the episode where Dewey stops helping his classmates in order to teach them to handle problems by themselves, they wind up taking their teacher, the principal, and two janitors hostage. When Dewey (with Francis's help) finally decides to do something, they learn that the principal has been selling the lanyards the class has been making all week, when one of the Buseys notices that Francis is wearing one on his key chain. Francis explains he bought it at a truck stop. Dewey compromises with the principal by saying no one needs to know that he's been exploiting mentally ill children for slave labor so long as he keeps his mouth shut about the hostage situation. They get the agreement of the teacher and the janitors, but the janitors ask for "five minutes alone" with the teacher and principal.
- How can anybody forget the first episode? Malcolm and Stevie get into an argument that makes them angry at each other. Malcolm decides to apologize but gets interrupted by the same bully who humiliated him earlier. A fight occurs and the bully throws a punch at Malcolm but misses and was about to hit Stevie ending up simply grazing him. Stevie pauses for a few seconds and drop himself to the ground pretending he got injured making everybody turn against the bully for "hitting" a cripple.
- Better yet, everyone in school retells the story so Malcolm looks like a hero standing up the bully for abusing Stevie. It's almost like he planned it.
- Francis's final words to Lois before he moves to Alaska. Not quoting him, but to sum up what he said, "The future is mine, and you're not my mother anymore!"
- How do the boys beat a cheating Hal at basketball? By standing on each other's shoulders to make a tower, then punching him in the groin when he tries a jump shot.
"The future is now, old man."
- Does the episode "Evacuation" count, considering it's one of the only times Malcolm triumphs over Lois? To recap, Lois grounded Malcolm for a stupid reason, then when they're forced to leave their house, Lois states that the grounding still stands and Malcolm is not allowed to leave his cot. After being humiliated by Lois one too many times, he stands up to her and she retaliates by spanking him in front of everyone in the gym (even if it was just a tap). As a result, she's forced to stay outside with Hal, Reese, and Dewey (who got in trouble for causing similar trouble). To top it off, when they ask Malcolm for help, he uses Lois's Exact Words saying he's not allowed to leave his cot. Who are we kidding? Malcolm didn't just get the best of Lois, he got the best of his entire family who makes his life hell!
- After a teacher forces Malcolm to embarrass Reese via secret video surveillance (which ends up spreading through the whole school), Malcolm fights back the only way he can: he barricades himself into the school radio room á la Harrison Bergeron, grabs everyone’s permanent records, and announces everyone's embarrassing secrets over the intercom to humiliate everyone as an "apology" for humiliating Reese. During the next day of school, everyone appears hesitant to so much as speak to one another — except for Reese, who gleefully walks around and talks about everyone's secrets to their faces.
- Said teacher (Smug Snake and Jerk Ass extraordinaire Mr. Herkabe) pulls a similar stunt in his last appearance by humiliating Reese in an attempt to blackmail Malcolm. This time, though, Malcolm gives Herkabe himself some sweet payback by arranging a dodgeball session pitting him against Reese. Malcolm walks away satisfied as Herkabe feebly tries to use his smart mouth to Break Them by Talking while Reese and the other students in the background gleefully and repeatedly bounce dodgeballs off him hard enough to rebound against the gymnasium's vaulted ceiling.
- Craig stops a comic book store owner from scamming Hal. He may be a dorky weirdo everywhere else, but under that roof, Craig's a level 45 Dungeon Master!
- Lois's car fight in Hal's Christmas Gift is one of the funniest and greatest things on television. Lois just lets out the fear inducing rage she's been holding in for years in a car that she willingly totals another car with. Her confused summary and subsequent Karma Houdini is doubly so. When Reese and Malcolm try to hold it over Lois' head she says this before they can open their mouths:
Lois: This is my one. My one to your eleven thousand.
- Francis, Piama and Otto beating the absolute hell out of the hotel critic who was giving the Grotto a horrendously unfair review. They are then showered with gratitude from all the other hotels, restaurants and shops in the area who'd previously been lambasted by the critic.
- Piama's first appearance on the show comes with a double Awesome/Heartwarming moment, when she grows angry at Lois criticizing Francis and throws a bucket of water in her face:
Piama: Stop talking about him like that! Francis is my heart!
- When Ida forces Malcolm and Reese to go against each other in three events to determine which of them will become a man. After Reese wins the first two, the two boys are sitting at a table with two holes and a few seemingly random set pieces on it. Ida rattles off some lines that sound like symbolic nonsense, then goes to watch them. Malcolm proceeds to decipher her lines in seconds, tricks Reese into getting stuck in the table, and wins the event.
- Crowning Music of Awesome: Candyman. as performed by Francis (who has a surprisingly good singing voice), and the other cadets.
- Dewey's musical talent is always Crowning Music of Awesome. When he writes an opera based on a fight Hal and Lois are having, he visualizes their shouting as singing, and that progresses into a truly amazing finale with full costumes and backup singers.
- When Hal and Lois went away for the weekend, the boys tried to have a house party, only for it to lead into their garage being taken over by a drug-making gang led by Francis' old friend Richie. After every other attempt at getting Richie and the others to leave fails, Dewey reveals that he went and told the mothers of everyone in the gang about what they were doing. Richie laughs at this... until his mom shows up, tells him to knock it off and that it's time to go home. One of his partners starts laughing at Richie, and then his mom shows up, followed by an army of mothers ordering their sons to stop what they're doing and come home.
- In "Lois Vs. Evil" Lois is fired after Dewey steals a bottle of perfume and in order to get her job back she has to sign a written apology, she refuses to sign and gives her Jerk Ass Bad Boss Mr. Pinter an epic The Reason You Suck speech and tells her that any of the other employees would've sold him out if they knew all of his secrets, and it turns out the other employees overheard the conversation, so he ends up quitting.