Synopsis and review of Malcolm's Job

Written by Petch

It was inevitable in the series that at some point, Malcolm would don a blue Lucky Aide staff shirt and and become a minion of the soulless drugstore that employs his mother. Moreover, such a plot device would surely compound Lois' overbearing nature towards the boy genius, not to mention Craig's inept attempts to bond with him. Those boxes have been checked--and flattened--in "Malcolm's Job," this season's first Maggie Bandur-penned outing.

At Lois's insistence, Malcolm and Reese are to seek employment. Reese lands a high-paying gig in a meat-cutting plant--the perfect job for him--while Malcolm has been promised a position by Lois' boss at the Lucky Aide. Dismayed at having to work under his mom's thumb, Malcolm is then subjected to the stock room's pedantic procedures. When he breaks procedure by simplifying one of the duties, instead of being lauded for his step-saving idea, he is written up by Lois for the violation. Malcolm protests the write-up, but Lois won't budge; he broke a rule, even if it was a stupid rule, and he must face the consequences. She is soon singing a different tune when Malcolm catches her sneaking a cigarette during her break at work. Lois implores him not to inform Hal, and he reluctantly promises to keep mum. But when Malcolm is mistakenly believed to have violated a procedure policy again, she is set to write him up once more until a security video clears him of the offense. Escaping the second write-up isn't enough to appease Malcolm, however; Lois was prepared to do it, despite his vow not to disclose her clandestine smoking. In a lengthy speech outside the Lucky Aide, Lois explains that the nature of parent/child relationships dictates that she will always view him as her child and worthy of correction, should the need arise. But as a consolation to him, she promises that she has quit smoking.

Hal, meanwhile, has unwillingly agreed to take Jamie to caregiving classes taught by Polly. The sessions turn out to be mind-numbingly tedious exercises in New Age mumbo jumbo which bore the dads to tears. When the instructor is away, the dads begin to casually talk about their babies' developmental abilities, which leads to the inevitable: their competitive inclinations kick in, and soon they're running contests. Which baby can sit up the longest, who can drool the most, whose soiled diaper is the heaviest, and of course the stroller/traffic cone relay race--it's all here, and the gambling stakes grow higher and higher with each session. The egg is on Hal's face, though, when Lois shows up with the family and busts up the proceedings.

Fed up with the latest rounds of torments from Reese and Malcolm, Dewey phones Francis at the Grotto to solicit his intervention. But the eldest brother is currently manning the busy front desk by himself and must cut the conversation short. An incensed Dewey later turns up at the ranch to confront Francis in person. Part of the humor here is derived in the very notion that Dewey has made his way to the Grotto all by himself, with no mention of just how he got there. Nonetheless, Francis is willing to accomodate his younger sibling and drive him back home. In a nicely written scene on the road, Francis explains how, despite Malcolm and Reese's adoration of him, he had in fact tormented them worse than they were currently treating Dewey. Moreover, Dewey has a wonderful opportunity to break the cycle and actually be a good brother to Jamie. But how would that be fair, Dewey wonders. Good point.

"Malcolm's Job" establishes a few new elements to the show, such as Reese's job at the meat-cutting plant and Malcolm's position at the drugstore. One humorous bit involves a dated training film which reveals that Craig was once a Lucky Aide district manager years ago; his present position would indicate that he was severely demoted at some point and has been working his way back up the corporate ladder since the first time we saw him. And in a finely-conceived moment of heart over ego, Malcolm is more concerned about his mother's smoking than about his own personal grievances. Both Muniz and Kaczmarek shine brightly here, and so does the teleplay. Good job on "Malcolm's Job," Ms. Bandur and everyone else involved.

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