Synopsis and review of Hal Sleepwalks
Written by Petch
It's clear that the Buseys are here to stay, if this and several upcoming episodes are any indication. Whether the show will enjoy a revival of the Krelboynes is cloudy, but right now Dewey's misplacement with the pschizo kids is a series mainstay. And this outing features the funniest Busey subplot yet, dodging and weaving between the other clever elements of Gary Murphy's teleplay.
Lois and Hal's twentieth anniversary is coming up, and clueless Hal is in a panic about what to do for the occasion. Most of his previous attempts have been disastrous. In fact, he's so desperate that he grabs Reese out of bed in the middle of the night and disjointedly tries to relay his problem. Reese promptly realizes that his dad is in a sleepwalking state, susceptible to any suggestion, and he uses it to amuse himself rather than assist Hal.
Meanwhile Malcolm recieves notice in the mail that he has been selected as an alternate candidate (the first guy has fallen ill because of a tick bite) for an upcoming educational Europe trip. Excited, he decides to delve into the arts, culminating in his purchase of an electric guitar which he plans to learn to play; if Dewey has the gift of music, surely he must have it as well, despite Lois' best-intended warnings otherwise. When he finally sits the family down to perform his first composition, it's a hackneyed, slacker re-write of the "Meow Mix" cat food TV jingle, which Dewey instantly identifies, culminating in a family "Meow-meow-meow-meow" singalong. Curiously, Malcolm's disappointment seems only fleeting, as he realizes it was a lame attempt anyway. Lois wisely cautions Hal to withhold the news from Malcolm that the tick-bite guy has recovered and the Europe trip is off--let him return the guitar first.
At school, a mean little bastard named Kyle Rogers has entered two Buseys into the student council election for President. Hanson and Zoe are elated by the honor, not realizing it was planned with their humiliation in mind. Dewey knows what's going on and slyly enters Kyle's name into the hat as well. Thus begins Dewey's private anti-Kyle campaign, designed to make him lose; face it, loss to a Busey would be unbearably humiliating. Propoganda mail-outs, including those with photo-shopped images of Kyle in a baseball uniform batting a live cat, are effective. Except now Hanson and Zoe are at each other's throats, each genuinely wanting the presidency. Once again, Dewey must bring them back to Earth. And with the truth in place, Hanson altruistically decides to throw the election in Zoe's favor. During his campaign speech before the entire student body, he fakes an episode of Tourette's Syndrome, replete with multiple beeped-out cuss words. The punchline is, of course, that the student body adores him, and the implication is that he is elected.
Hal has been Reese's personal robot for the last many nights during his sleepwalking ventures. He has mindlessly moonwalked at the sound of a microwave ping, instinctively squawked like a chicken during an important telephone call and casually drenched himself in ketchup and mustard upon hearing clanging glasses. But once Reese learns that his dad genuinely trusts him, albeit during a hypnotic state, he grows a conscience and decides to help him for real. Hence, Reese awakens Lois and explains the situation. Only she can bring Hal peace by taking the matter into her own hands.
Therefore, as a sleepwalking Hal stands before the stove, cooking a skillet of paella for Reese, Lois appears and casually suggests what she'd like: a three-pack of vacuum cleaner bags, a new heating pad and some soft-gel inserts for her work shoes, size nine. She gets all those, during the happy denoument, plus a cheery resolve from Hal to change all of Jamie's poopy diapers. It's the happiest of anniversaries to date. That last item was part of the deal, by the way.
Season Six continues to mark itself as the most creative in a while, and "Hal Sleepwalks" is a pristine example. Some writers and directors sleepwalk through their work. Thankfully, Gary Murphy and David D'Ovidio do not.