Living Will thoughts


Retired Administrator
Posted by appanah:

The two main themes running throughout the duration of this episode were the issues surrounding the decision making process and the implications this has on those finding themselves in a position of authority. The other key theme that was outlined was one of parental pressures and overcoming adversity associated with self image.

The main plot revolved around Hal and the notion that he is unable to make a decision. He lacks commitment. We are led to believe that Lois, the woman of the household makes all the decisions.

Hal can’t even make a decision as simple as his breakfast cereal, yet is unexpectedly plunged into a situation where his decision quite literally is a matter of life and death.

I found the resolution to Hal’s scenario rather lacking in any substance. As the episode ends, we are left wondering what his ‘third’ and satisfactory outcome actually involved. I however don’t feel that this filled the audience with intrigue as it once may have done with full effectiveness in the earlier episodes. Instead, it gave us a feeling of emptiness. From the brief clues, I realise that we can come to our own conclusions, but I was half expecting it to cut to another scene with the comatose body of their neighbour in a corn field depicting a scarecrow whilst hooked up to a generator for life support. Well that was my take on the bird lover, hat and items available from Radio Shack suggestions. It almost sounds as distasteful and inappropriate as impersonating a paralysed person for the short term. Oh wait, that one actually happened.

Now looking at the subplot involving the boys and Craig. It was initially difficult to ascertain the theme to this as it began with the adult approaching the youngsters for fighting tuition. At first glance I thought this subplot would consist of a theme of ‘fighting dirty’, and that it may provide the audience with self defence advice – MITM style! I felt a little disappointed at the show only giving us the poking out of a victims eyes with your fingers; and the throwing of sand into one’s face. If this had been the episode’s constant theme, I would have considered debates involving media effects theory to establish if people watching the violence on TV would be influenced to carry out acts of violence themselves.

The theme rapidly changed direction and veered off course to an intangible plot that wasn’t really relative to its origin context; as it was revealed that Craig’s nemesis was indeed his father. Craig is fighting his parent both in a physical and metaphoric sense.

We are given a bit of insight into Craig’s origins. He has always been portrayed as odd in that his only friends consist of his cat and the children of his co-worker. And even the latter group have retaliated against him at some point within the show’s history. But until this point we had not known where Craig had come from and the factors that have made him such a strange individual.

Towards the end of this episode, there is indication of another premise that can be linked to a notion of ideology. I’m referring to Craig’s response to the photograph of his mother. Although the female figure is originally intended as comedy appeal – the figure of feminism is indeed Mr Higgins wearing a flowery dress, junk jewellery, lots of make-up and an obvious wig. Despite this, I find Craig’s attraction to his mother being linked to theory by Michel Foucault. Foucault dismissed ‘repressive hypothesis’ and argued that there was a great incitement to discuss sexuality. He also suggested that the notion of attractiveness is very subjective and cannot be analysed. What one person may find beautiful, another will find ugly. However, I find it hard to believe that attraction for this woman can be felt by the same person that had immense feelings for Lois during the first two seasons. Craig’s attraction for his mother can also be linked to theories by Sigmund Freud. But this being a forum that prides itself on being family orientated, I’ll have to leave out those notions for now.

Overall, I found the ‘Living Will’ episode a rather poor collaboration. In terms of reaching its previous high standards it has achieved in earlier episodes, I’d say it failed. The tradition of outstanding comedy with mass appeal seems to have been replaced with cheap laughs and a weak narrative.

Note: I accidentally deleted the original post when attempting to do something completely different. Sorry about that. For clarity, this post was originally made by appanah, not by me.


Site Administrator
Staff member
whoa - a bit like appanah's post! Sam you also seem well read - however i feel that you might have missed the point of the conclusion, this episode was to show the huge social dilema of euthianasia (sp) which of course as shown was a huge decison and one most people would be unable to decide.(is there a right or wrong answer?) The reason it was left unconcluded in the end was becuase of course there is no real 3rd option its called artistic lience that the writers have used. (well that wat i beleive)


New member
Even though I would have liked a final decision to what Hal choice I can understand why they did this, not to offend anyone and to let you imagine what in the world he was talking about.


Retired Administrator
Just to be clear, that wasn't my opinion, that was appanah's. I tried to merge two threads together, and instead I ended up deleting both, so I had to recreate it.

It really could be any number of things, but it did seem to me like it was either life or death. What could he buy at Radio Shack??


New member
The entire ending was a joke. He even stated I am never going to repeat my decision or what happened. The writers leave the ending to your imagination.


Retired Administrator
What Hal was asked to do, is a huge and really quite scary thing for someone to do. I don't think i would have had a clue what to do if I was told whether or not to turn off someones life support machine.

I would not want to flip a coin about it, nor would Hal I believe, it is such a big an issue, that besides the programmes receiving thousands of complaints!, would simply not realistically happen :D

What was really funny at the end of this episode was the mickey take between Hal and Lois, where Lois asked if he could explain through the entire method once again... :D


Up until reading your message, I had been somewhat passive in the actual decision Hal was asked to make. I was simply only looking at the fact it was a generic decision, without considering the full impact of both possible outcomes. You've added a dimension of reality to the episode that I hadn't contemplated until that point.

You are so right. The switching off of one's life support machine is not something that can be decided simply by flipping a coin. For that, i want to appologise if such a comment has caused concern. I was merely using the concept of chance in a general sense - and not as a remedy to that specific scenario. I really don't want everyone to think of me as heartless!


Retired Administrator
MITM has been missing something for awhile; no one could quite identify what it was. Maybe it was the lack of first-person storlyines from Malcolm; maybe the plots were running shallow; maybe Erik wasn't ready to take the stage mostly to himself; maybe Francis is mssing.

Maybe it's a little bit of all of these things, but I read a very interesting comment on the official forums about heart today.

You know what? Living Will had heart. Take the scene where Craig is saying good bye to the boys. We haven't seen anything like that for a very long time. It seemed like the show was capitalizing on everything it has done up to this point. Made me proud to be a fan.

The whole Hal plot was also very enjoyable. We haven't ever had anything quite like that before. You've always realized that Hal and Lois love each other, but it's never been exhibited quite in that way before. Very well done.

At the same time, the comedy was very well maintained. I found myself laughing though a good chunk of the episode. Someone said it seemed like most of the ep was just building up during Lois Battles Jamie. That wasn't the case with Living Will; it was funny the entire episode, and the cast and crew should be commended.

Looking to the future, I think Tiki Lounge and Grandma Loses a Leg over the next two weeks sound like they will be more of the same. I am really looking forward to these two ep's, especially Grandma Loses a Leg. In fact, I'm expecting another award-winning performance there, by Cloris Leachman (The Grandparents, S2) and the entire cast (Bowling, S1).

Suddenly, I'm reminded about why I began to love the show in the first place.