Synopsis of Grandma Sues/Lois is Pregnant

Written by Petch

Taking a nod from the plot of The Man Who Came To Dinner, this outing features Cloris Leachman's most uproarious appearance as Lois' disagreeable mom Ida; think of Sheridan Whiteside in overdrive, but minus the rapier wit. As for the rest of the cast, they're afforded a juggernaut of a teleplay to work with.

With Grandma Ida and the Francis/Piama duo visiting, Malcolm has been relegated to living in a tent in the yard and bitching to the camera (the episode's lesser element). The departing Ida slips on a doorstep leaf (Reese failed to rake, naturally) and breaks her collarbone, confining her to the homestead for an extended stay. And the further revelation that she plans to sue only sends Hal and Lois into further distress, especially Lois, who once again experiences a case of stomach sickness....

It's okay about Lois, though, their doctor explains. She's not ill; she's pregnant! The couple decide to hide this inopportune piece of news from the rest of the family, except for Ida. They implore her to re-think her legal action. "Of course," Ida assures them, before sticking the knife in. "You should settle."

Reese, meanwhile, has recruited Dewey in a harebrained scheme to "make everyone happy again" (neither are aware of the lawsuit or the pregnancy) by ordering an above-ground swimming pool for the family--to be casually charged to Hal. And the insurance company conveniently phones in....they've found a loophole which permits them to cancel the family's policy, so any judgment will come out of their pockets. All the while, Ida's lawyer and his assistant sit at the table, outlining the lawsuit.

An incensed Malcolm happens to break in through the kitchen window, demanding to know what's going on. Shortly, all of the family has re-assembled in the dining room as Ida's lawsuit and Lois' pregnancy are fully disclosed. After being sent to their room while the adults sort things out, the boys bellyache about the situation, until Piama shames them for their self-centered preoccupation. At that moment they realize: this isn't just another expense, but a living, breathing sibling with whom they'll soon be sharing their lives.

Lois makes one final appeal to her mother to reconsider the lawsuit, but Ida will have none of it. At that moment, the boys return and apologize for their earlier behavior, each offering to make whatever sacrifices are necessary to accomodate the new baby. It's a genuinely heartfelt moment in a series usually marked by irreverence. Ida's lawyer, meanwhile, has seen enough. He drops the case--not because he sympathizes with the family's predicament, but because he's unwilling to accept "40% of this rundown dump of a house" as compensation. Ah, there's that irreverence after all. And with this turn of events, Ida magically feels well enough to return to Canada.

The outing is full of choice comic moments, such as a scene where Hal, who has just offered to go purchase ice cream for the distraught Lois so they can calmly figure things out, has a screaming fit once he's privately behind the wheel of his car. Bugs crawl into the mouth of the exiled Malcolm while he's asleep, and Cloris Leachman's cage-like collarbone brace is a continual source of sight gags, such as her repeated (and unsuccessful) attempts to light a cigarette. Watch for a funny cameo by David Rasche (from the mid-80's cop spoof series Sledge Hammer) as Ida's unscrupulous lawyer.

Just as last year's Hal's Birthday non-chalantly dropped the bomb of Francis' quickie marriage, "Grandma Sues" matter-of-factly introduces the biggest development yet to the series--an impending fifth kid in the house. How will this be assimilated into the show's dynamic? If the previous evolutions within Malcolm In The Middle are any indication, then pretty damned well.

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