Leading off ABC's Wednesday night block of comedy at 8:00pm Eastern, family sitcom The Middle is often overlooked in comparison to the Emmy Award winning powerhouse known as Modern Family. That's unfortunate, because the single-camera comedy about an average middle-class family in small-town Indiana is actually quite clever with the way it handles standard family sitcom tropes and features one of the most likable and relatable family units on television.
Starring Neil Flynn—best known as the nameless janitor on Scrubs—and Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) as Mike and Frances "Frankie" Heck, the series has also had its share of impressive guest stars, including Norm MacDonald as Mike's brother Rusty. When last we left the Heck clan, they had haphazardly hosted Rusty's wedding in their home, which required plenty of stressful clean-up to prepare for the big day.
The fourth season of The Middle begins tonight with an hour-long season premiere that delves into the Hecks' "long, crappy summer," according to series co-creator Eileen Heisler. While most returning sitcoms traditionally either ignore the summer or only make passing references, this episode will allow viewers to experience the Hecks' summer vacation along with them, as Frankie and Mike are determined to give their three children a memorable summer like they had as kids.
In addition to that, there are a few other things to look forward to this season, such as Frankie losing her job at the car dealership and heading to community college to learn some much-needed new skills for a new career; oldest son Axl (Charlie McDermott) also leaving for college with several potential scholarships being offered to the slacking teenager; middle child Sue (Eden Sher) continuing her quest to learn how to drive; and eccentric youngest son Brick (Atticus Shaffer) developing a new tick to go along with his penchant for repeating words from his previous sentence to himself in a whisper.
As for what new affectation Brick has picked up, you will have to tune into The Middle's one-hour Season 4 premiere tonight on ABC to find out. I know I'll be there. Will you be watching?