Modern 'Middle' man
The family comedy was proclaimed dead. Single-camera sitcoms didn’t work. Fox couldn’t do live-action laffers, period.
“Malcolm in the Middle” creator Linwood Boomer managed to break all of those rules, and then some.
The onetime thesp (“Little House on the Prairie”) did something even more revolutionary: He wrote a funny script and created extremely memorable characters, starting with Malcolm, a regular kid with a big IQ.
Now that “Malcolm” is a bona fide hit, network execs far and wide are holding the show up as an example of how sitcoms — and more importantly, family sitcoms — can be refreshed.
Yet those are the same execs who originally passed on the show, notes Boomer with a certain sense of irony.
“I don’t think there’s any formula,” Boomer says. “It’s about the execution. If a story is good, it doesn’t matter whether it’s about mobsters or a family.”
Whatever the reason, Boomer, whose pre-“Malcolm” credits include writing and exec producer stints on shows such as “Night Court” and “3rd Rock From the Sun,” has been catapulted into the ranks of TV’s elite executive producers.
Whether or not that means more Linwood Boomers, armed with their passion project, will be able to create something different with minimal interference is anyone’s guess.
“I would love to see people really commit to material and see them ignore focus group testing,” Boomer says. “I’d love to have people trust the people that they hire to do the job they’re paid for.
“But I don’t see that becoming the norm. I think ‘Malcolm’ is still the exception.”