Frankie Muniz: Pimple Puss", or "Why Fox Won't Show 'Malcolm' in HDTV"


Retired Administrator
[aimage=left]tnmm419.gif[/aimage]Frankie Muniz: Pimple Puss", or "Why Fox Won't Show 'Malcolm' in HDTV"

Fox says Malcolm in the Middle, its popular Sunday evening comedy (7:30 p.m. eastern), is broadcast in high-def. However, the program's picture looks duller than an evening with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The images appear as if they've been softened for some reason; they lack the usual clarity and detail found in other Fox-produced HDTV shows, such as 24 and The O.C. (For this review, I watched Malcolm on two different high-def sets, one delivering a cable signal and the other a satellite signal. The show's picture was poor on both.)

While Fox's overall primetime HDTV lineup arguably offers an inferior picture to its network rivals, such as CBS and NBC, Malcolm's picture is exceptional in its poor quality. It's not the worst primetime HD picture ever (that title belongs to NBC's Hawaii, which was canceled last year.), but it's close.

Why would Fox not produce a better picture for Malcolm, one of the most successful comedies in its history?

I have a theory.

The Teenage Years

Frankie Muniz, who plays the sitcom's title character, is now 19. Even in the watered-down high-def presentation of Malcolm, Muniz's battle with teenage acne is on display. And, it's a losing battle. His face, particularly his forehead, is blanketed with pimples and other blemishes. Although Muniz retains his boyish charm -- and deft comic touch -- it's hard not to notice, particularly in scenes with other young actors who are not experiencing the same skin imperfections.

Muniz's acne seems to be a recent affliction, too. I didn't notice that he had any skin problems in the previous seasons. It could be just his dumb luck that Fox decided to go high-def at the same time his teenage hormones started to rage; this is the first season that Fox is showing
Malcolm and other primetime shows in high-def.

To support my theory, Malcolm this season rarely offers close-ups of Muniz, a sharp contrast to previous seasons when he often spoke directly to the camera, a technique rarely used in primetime
television. When Muniz delivers a line, the camera seems to be in another zip code, evoking that famous scene in Tootsie when a cameraman is asked to pull the camera further away from Dustin Hoffman when he's playing a dowdy female in disguise in a soap opera. The cameraman says, "Can I pull back? How about Cleveland?"

But other Malcolm actors, such as Jane Kaczmarek, who plays Muniz's mother, and Bryan Cranston, who plays his Dad, still get their regular diet of close-ups this season.

Could this all be a coincidence? Sure. The show's producers may simply be cutting back on some high-def production costs, which would explain the soft picture. However, we may also be seeing an example of Hollywood fighting back against the incredible but sometimes invasive clarity of the HDTV picture. Perhaps the producers are trying to protect Muniz from further embarrassment. Considering that the show's main value is its comedy -- not its photogenic qualities -- what would be the big deal, right?

And, fortunately for Malcolm, the muddy picture shouldn't dissuade anyone from watching. It's still a very funny show. Malcolm, which focuses on a dysfunctional family of seven, has at least five
laugh-out-loud moments in each episode. And, it's not afraid to be politically incorrect.

However, if you're tuning in to show off your new high-def set, don't.

Jimmy Junior

New member
Re: Frankie Muniz: Pimple Puss", or "Why Fox Won't Show 'Malcolm' in HDTV"

admin said:
[aimage=left]tnmm419.gif[/aimage]Frankie Muniz: Pimple Puss", or "Why Fox Won't Show 'Malcolm' in HDTV"...

... Muniz's battle with teenage acne is on display. And, it's a losing battle.

Is this to say that Frankie Muniz is gradually evolving into a giant pimple?:Wink:

Lucky Maroon

New member
I really feel bad for him and his "growing problem"...

But he's probably gotten over it by now, anyway. There will still always be good spots open for him in film, even with his racing stuff and everything.


New member
I doubt it was a conspiracy or plan probably just a coincidence. Except for actually agreeing to air it, what aspect of Malcolm didn't FoX bungle? From time slots and days to the way they did promotion to pre-emption due to sports? I think it is lucky anyone decided to even spring for high def equipment at all.

As for Frankie they are exagerating. I have never really noticed any blemishes at all. Whatever he had clearly they used makeup for the show. He has a prominent mole on his lip in season 1 and real life. This disapeared seasons 2-7 like it wasnt there. THey may have even used makeup to cover tatoos didnt he have them by season 7?


New member
I loved watching MITM in HDTV. although in the United States I believe all HDTV signal is compressed, so it is not truly 1080i. but then you have to think, most of MITM's audience is the same age as the kids, so they probably have acne problems themselves, so maybe it will be a relief to see they aren't the only ones, so actually it can work in MITM's favor :laugh:


New member
FOX annoys me sometimes. mostly it is from both Futurama and Malcolm in the Middle getting little attention from their network during their runs. But I still love the network for being willing to air the shows that end up great. FOX is my favorite of the main networks.

by the way, you did a great drawing in your signature Lucky Maroon. i can tell from your style of sketching that you have true artistic skill. and Muse is a great band!
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