Synopsis and review of Dewey's Special Class

Written by Petch

The Malcolm dynamic reaches a potential new shift with this riotously funny Maggie Bandur teleplay, and it may well prove to be a storyline boon if Linwood Boomer decides to go ahead with the idea of Dewey as a Krelboyne. But Dewey's plight in the titular storyline competes with Hal's hysterical turn as a competition arcade dancer with Craig.

A counselor at school has recommended that Dewey be tested for special class placement, and the family are celebrating at a novelty-themed pizza joint of Dewey's choice. The prospect that Dewey might be placed in the Krelboyne class horrifies Malcolm, but his strong objections fall on deaf ears. Reese, meanwhile, delights in the fancy that he, too, might be discovered to be a genius. And at the other end of the pizza joint is a phenomenon which utterly rivets Hal: a "Jump Jump Dance Party" machine, which is essentially a fictionalized version of the Dance Dance Revolution arcade favorite. None other than Craig Feldspar happens to be on it at the moment, cutting a mean rug, and it's not long before he has enlisted Hal as his partner on the contraption. The two train for an upcoming contest, but shortly before it is to begin, Craig twists his ankle and can't perform. Hal enlists the aid of Davey, one of the demure teenaged kids who had been razzing them, as his new partner, and they claim First Prize: two free medium pizzas--both of which Davey claims for performing on such short notice.

Malcolm devises a scheme to "save" his younger brother the humiliation of Krelboynedom. Obtaining a copy of the special test, he convinces the greatness-seeking Reese to answer the questions, then instructs Dewey to give the same answers as Reese when he takes the test. Surely this will prevent him from entering the gifted class. And it certainly does--problem is, Dewey's responses prompt his counselor Mrs. Welsh to place him the special class for disturbed children, where he is woefully out of place. Now stuck in the dreary and dimly-lit classroom, Dewey butts heads with Mr. Sheridan, the incompetent teacher who cares more about keeping the kids docile than in teaching them. As played by brilliant character actor Matt Malloy, best recognized for his turn as a spineless misogynist in the acclaimed 1997 film In The Company Of Men, Sheridan is the instructor who fears the pupils, rather than the other way around. Aghast at the turn of events, Malcolm attempts to persuade Mrs. Welsh to re-test Dewey, citing their mom's "substance abuse" problem as the catalyst for his poor performance the first time. This only leads to a confrontation between Lois and the well-meaning counselor, placing culpability squarely in Malcolm's lap. And when Dewey becomes fed up with Mr. Sheridan's neglectful ways, he stages a hilarious walk-out whereby the "disturbed" children--who perhaps aren't as disturbed as they're believed to be--commandeer the Krelboyne classroom.

This outing carries the distinction of marking the first time in which the cold open consists of a Grotto scenario, and then Francis is AWOL for the rest of the episode. In it, Otto and Francis vow before a crowd of environmentalists to dynamite a dam which is impeding the survival of a certain species of fish. Due to a mix-up, they blow up their own pick-up truck instead. For its thirty-second running time, it elicits a chuckle or two.

At the end of the day, Hal is cured of his boogie shoes ways, though a humorous "point of view" shot has him envisioning Lois' commands as "Jump Jump" directives, just so he can placate her. Malcolm is in dutch, because a pissed-off Dewey has casually spilled the entire beans to Lois about the testing scheme, for no other reason than to retaliate against Malcolm. And then there's the looming possibility of the gifted class for Dewey.

It's clear from this episode that Dewey wishes to be a Krelboyne. He's obviously not as smart as Malcolm, but neither are most others in the gifted class. The series has suffered somewhat in the last two seasons with the dissolve of Malcolm's brainy group, which was a conceptual staple. An ideal solution would be to let the element continue with Dewey as a somewhat-lower IQ Krelboyne who fills the role while Jamie steps into the toddler shoes. Let's face it: when nay-sayers shout "Jump the shark!" this series just laughs and eats pizza instead, then sticks a pacifier in Jamie's mouth.

Sneak-peeks over the internet reveal that Reese might soon be wearing Army fatigues. Malcolm might be in college. Hal might be looking for a new career. And Dewey might become the dreaded K-word. All adaptable. That's why the show still works marvelously five seasons in and counting. In terms of comedy, "Dewey's Special Class" continues to move the series to the head of the class.

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