Perhaps the most original sitcom pilot in recent years, this first episode combines sharp writing with a hyperbolic camera style reminiscent of Parker Lewis Can't Lose. Malcolm introduces us to his world, dominated by omnipresent schoolyard bully Spath and made worse by his enforced friendship with Stevie, an asthmatic wheelchair genius. When a battery of tests reveals that Malcolm has an IQ of 165, he is moved into Stevie's special accelerated class, despite his protests that "around here being intelligent is exactly the same as being radioactive." On the bright side, Malcolm discovers a practical application for intelligence when he and Stevie spontaneously hit on a solution to Spath's persistent tyranny.
A battle of wits and wills ensues between the boys and their angry mom, who wants to find out who ruined her expensive new red dress -- found partially burned and soaking in the toilet. It's Hal and Lois's wedding anniversary (hence the dress); and while the boys fend off their mother, with the long-distance assistance of Francis, a lonely and increasingly sozzled Hal bonds with the staff of the restaurant where he booked a table for the big night. Lois finally achieves an epiphany on the phone with Francis, who convinces her to for once "let something go." After she leaves for the restaurant, with the boys in tow, Hal arrives home to an empty house -- and we learn the truth about what happened to the red dress.
Lois and Hal are spending the weekend at a family wedding, leaving Francis -- home for a visit -- in charge. When Malcolm overhears them discussing whether Francis has spent long enough at the military academy, he enlists his brothers in a scheme to get Francis home by preventing any of the usual disasters. But three of Francis's dude buddies turn up to party and trash the house, and while frantically cleaning up Malcolm gets a serious head injury that necessitates the usual trip to the emergency ward. How to prevent Mom and Dad from finding out? Enter Caroline, who has begged Malcolm to look on her not just as his teacher but also as his "friend" -- a declaration that costs her $400 in medical bills. Meanwhile, Hal and Lois discover that his family has a new nickname for her: "Lois Common Denominator." Her humiliation provokes Hal to declare his devotion to her -- and the snooty bride and groom discover that their honeymoon car is already being put to use.... Home again, Mom and Dad a
Parallel stories pit Malcolm against Kevin, a bullying, obnoxious new kid who goads Malcolm into beating him up; and Francis vies with his intimidating military-school commandant, who's presenting sex-education lectures. When Malcolm discovers that Kevin is only seven, he is guilt-stricken and tries to make amends by entering a charity marathon race. Meanwhile, Hal chops down the front-yard tree, alienating the neighbors (who can now see the house) but fascinating his sons with the wood-chipper.
Malcolm's cushy babysitting job provides relief from the trailer the family's using while their house is being fumigated, until Malcolm learns that the trust placed in him in his new position is strictly limited. Meanwhile, the military school's master key leads Francis to a corpse, for which he provides a proper send-off.
Francis goes AWOL from military school and comes home to get together with his ditzy girlfriend, so they can get away forever. She turns out to be a thief who doesn't pay attention to Francis. So he hides in the backyard while Malcolm (who is the only one who nows he is there) tries to make excuses to Dewey for whats in the backyard.
Disasters abound at a gifted kids' picnic, where stage acts bomb, families feud, and Malcolm's dad Hal serves meat to vegetarians. Despite Malcolm's best efforts -- feigning sickness, planning to go over the wall with Francis -- his family insist on accompanying him to a circus-themed picnic for the Krelboyne class, whom must each perform for the assembled students and families. Once there, Lois immediately feuds with Dorene, the loud-mouthed mother who dominates the other parents; Reese plans to "kick Krelboyne butt" and is hoist by his own petard (okay, underpants) by Eraserhead's much bigger brother; Francis goes through an entire romantic relationship in the course of the single afternoon; and Hal grosses out the entire class by sneaking real meat into their vegetarian barbecue. When a desperate Malcolm turns Stevie's demonstration of catalysts into a gigantic stink bomb, Caroline is convinced she will be fired -- so Malcolm must go on and quell the crowd by demonstrating his abili
After the kids blow up the store's steam cleaner, and Dewey confesses to stealing a $150 bottle of cognac, Lois's firing prompts household economizing to an extent that causes Malcolm mortifying embarrassment at school: Julie organizes a food-drive for his family. When Hal winds up in emergency with acute botulism as a result, Lois must re-think her position against apologizing to her odious boss, Mr. Pinter. Meanwhile, Francis thinks he's died and gone to heaven when he's assigned honor-guard duty at a Teenage Miss Alabama beauty pageant -- until he discovers that all the girls think he's gay.
Malcolm is upset about having to dance in front of the school with the other Krelboynes, so he decides to ditch school. But when Hal convinces him that taking him to school will be the highlight of his day, so Malcolm is guilted into going. The boys are shocked though when Hal tells them they aren't going to school. He takes them to the racetrack to see the last race of the best driver ever Rusty Malcolm. After two laps, the boys decide to get some cokes. While arguing over who should watch him though, the boys lose Dewey and enter a forbidden room, only to be caught by a security guard. Meanwhile, Francis' disobedience affects the rest of the cadets.
The family gets ready to attend a relative's funeral, which affects Malcolm's plans to spend time with Julie. Upset that everyone doesn't want to go and that no one pulls their own weight around the house, Lois goes on strike. Meanwhile, Reese desperately tries to get the family to attend the funeral so he can get rid of Dewey's expensive birthday present he broke.
Malcolm is angry because during a game of street hockey, he sprints up and down the street in shoes, only to have it start back the other way. So he decides he is ready to take skating lessons from his dad. He asks Reese and Francis how it is, but they both refuse to tell him. When he starts, he is angered by all the silly twists and spins they are doing. Meanwhile, Reese rollerskates in the house with a bunch of gunk on his skates which causes Lois to throw out her back while yelling at him.
It's still summer-vacation time on the jaunty third-season opener, which finds Malcolm and his rowdy clan cruising on a lake in a houseboat with Stevie and his straitlaced parents, Abe and Kitty Kenarban. Some vacation. The vessel itself is a fright, a weathered heap that Dewey hates from the get-go because "There's no TV! There's no TV! There's no TV!" An equally distraught Malcolm is shanghaied by Hal for a fishing expedition, leaving lucky Reese the chance to trawl for bikini-clad beauties at a nearby camp. Back on board, the close quarters are slowly driving Abe off the deep end.
Still reeling over Francis' break for freedom, Lois and Hal find themselves face to face with their newly independent son. While at home, Francis wins back Hal's support, but Lois is a completely different story. Also, Malcolm and the Krelboynes meet their match when a new teacher ”a former Krelboyne himself” is assigned to the class. He sets up a ranking system that pits the students against each other and eventually drives them to the brink of insanity.
Malcolm has a new light in his life: a perky classmate named Sara (whose face, in a quirky touch, is never shown). But, according to Malcolm , she’s “good-looking and smart and cool. And if we went out together, it would make me happy. So therefore, it will never happen.” Ah, but it does—a surprising turn of events that elates the lad and perturbs his parents, especially when Malcolm goes into an academic tailspin. And it’s not long before our lovesick hero admits that he’s becoming “obsessive and neurotic, and a totally jealous creep.”
In an effort to contribute to society and to make her boys useful at the same time, Lois "volunteers" Malcolm, Reese and Dewey for charity work at a local church. The boys are assigned to sort giant piles of donated clothing, game, appliances etc. Initially irritated at their new task, they realize the donated stuff is a lot nicer than their own possessions, and they begin swapping out their old stuff with the second-hand items. The boys soon make a enterprise out of their charity assistance, going as far as to sell things to the neighborhood kids - that is until Hal finds out. Meanwhile, Francis must come to grips with the fact his fabulous job in Alaska is not quite what he expected.
When Hal's doctor discovers something suspicious during his routine check-up, Lois and Hal become frantic, nervous wrecks as they wait for the test results. As a result of her anticipation, Lois becomes even stricter with the boys, leaving them to misinterpret the new house rules. Meanwhile, in Alaska, Francis comes to blows with his boss.
When Malcolm and his brothers destroy their Christmas tree ornaments, Lois punishes them by canceling Christmas and moves all the presents into the garage. The only way she will reinstate the holiday is if the boys behave impeccably up to Christmas morning. Her plan works better than expected, and Lois is touched that her family responded so well to her challenge. Meanwhile, the boys decide that Lois could use this tactic for future holidays and retaliate by breaking into the garage and opening up all the presents. Elsewhere, Francis is forced to visit his Grandma Ida for Christmas.
Juicy guest casting and ingenious plotting enliven an hourlong episode that airs in the plum post-Super Bowl slot. One storyline unfolds at Hal's company picnic, where Lois clashes with a blabby wife (Susan Sarandon) and her beleaguered spouse (Kaczmarek's real-life husband, Bradley Whitford); and Hal runs afoul of his new boss (Stephen Root) and the big cheese (Patrick Warburton). In Alaska, Francis's scheme to win a bet involves rigging a hockey game that pits loggers vs. a fearsome women's squad led by a blowhard coach (Terry Bradshaw).
After Hal is mistaken by his new boss, as that guy's boss, Hal plays along. Malcolm is in a three-legged scavenger hunt with the girl he likes, but becomes upset after he confesses he likes her, and she says she likes another boy. Reese is also the the scavenger hunt, and at first doesn't like the big dumb bully he is with, but they grow to like each other when they bond over beating up the other contestants and stealing their items. Lois continues to balance keeping Dewey intact and dealing with the crazy woman, but now must talk to the husband as well. Francis continues to sabotage his own team, this time on the ice.