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Bowling is the 20th episode of Season 2 of the show, Malcolm in the Middle. The episode first aired on April 1, 2001.


Malcolm and Reese go to a bowling party where Hal and Lois watch them compete for the attentions of a cute girl.


In the cold opening, Malcolm and Reese are in the bedroom making holes in the ceiling tiles with a pencil, they claim If they were old enough to drive they'd never be bored. At Marlin Academy, Francis is also throwing a pencil in the ceiling tiles wishing he could get out on his own and start the party. At his office throwing a pencil into the ceiling Hal wishes he was a bird.

Malcolm and Reese are getting ready to go to a bowling party with some kids from school, while Dewey must stay home as his punishment for killing the neighbor's parakeet and must buy a new one tomorrow. In the Sliding Doors parody, the boys go out with either Hal or Lois, while on the home side Dewey must be sent to bed. On Lois' home side, she orders Dewey to his shared bedroom at once and follows him. While on Hal's home side, he races Dewey to his room.

On Lois' bowling side, in the car she reminds Malcolm and Reese that the bowling alley is one of the last few public places that the Wilkersons haven't been banned. She warns them to behave themselves if they want to avoid not only being banned, but also spending one of their nights at the laundromat. They immediately arrive at the bowling alley. However when Lois attempts to buy Malcolm and Reese shoes, she only has enough for one and makes them share.

On Hal's bowling side, he, Malcolm and Reese are having a good conversation in the car. They get lost, but are still excited. Soon they arrive at the bowling alley. Knowing how expensive the shoes are and having secretly took money from Lois' wallet, he buys them two pairs of shoes and sends them off for a good time. He asks the cashier to give him a lane to himself away from his sons' and their classmates. He is put the farthest away next to another lane.

Meanwhile on Lois' home side, Dewey is tucked into bed tightly and is told to go to bed. He doesn't want to sleep early and complains about it. Refusing to let up, Lois tells him that he can feel free to lie awake all night. On Hal's home side, Dewey is tucked into bed and is told to go to bed. He complains about going to bed early, but Hal refuses to let up. Dewey is warned to behave himself because it's not up for debate. Hal firmly tells him that he's serious about the punishment. This however, encourages Dewey to plot how he can trick his father.

On Lois' bowling side, Malcolm notices Beth at the party and Reese mentions that she's supposedly the reason why Mr. Thomas got fired from his job at their school. Lois soon arrives and the boys try to get her to leave. However, she refuses when she learns that there's no adults chaperoning the party. Lois loudly demands the kids to know where their parents are and whose chaperoning the party. When Malcolm and Reese tries to convince her that no one needs a chaperone, Lois ignores it. She decides to stay at the bowling alley to chaperone it herself and tells the group of kids that they're bowling. Reese impresses Beth and attempts to tell a joke, but is constantly interrupted by Lois until he eventually gives up on the joke in realization of how it's not funny. Malcolm is terrible at bowling and is ridiculed when he gets a lime green ball with "Connie" engraved on it.

On Hal's bowling side, the boys sees Beth at the party. Like on Lois' bowling side, Reese noted that she is presumably the reason Mr. Thomas got fired. Hal tells him and Malcolm to enjoy themselves and he'll see them in a couple of hours. However, Reese talks to her first. Unfortunately, he immediately disgusts Beth by telling her a joke that involves spitting soda in her face and messing up her hair. Insulted, she reprimands Reese for being an immature jerk to her. Beth leaves to try and recollect herself. On a lane of his own, Hal starts bowling strikes with a swish of soda and repeats it.

At Hal's home side, he is fixing something when Francis calls home and asks his father for $100 so he can help restore an old car with the other cadets, promising that he gets it on every 7th weekend. Dewey safely sneaks in the kitchen and takes an unknown bag into his room, while Hal is talking to him on the phone. He politely refuses to Francis' request to give him the money and reminds him that the family has to pay bills. He understands Hal's stance and thanks him for talking to him about it.

Meanwhile on Lois' home side, she's doing laundry when Francis calls home and asks her for $100 to help restore an old car. The cadets promises him that he gets it on every 7th weekend. Dewey opens the door and attempts to sneak out of his room by putting one socked foot out of the door. However, she busts him in the act and yells out orders for him to stay his room. Dewey complies to that order and closes the door. Lois abrasively refuses by telling Francis that the family won't give him a 10th of their money for the car and he blows up and wonders why he even tries but knows she can now go to bed happy knowing she kept his life a living hell.

On Hal's bowling side, he continues to make strikes with each swish of his soda and other stuff. The guy in the next lane is impress and tells him if he keeps this up he might get a plaque for a perfect game. Hal takes this into consideration.

On Lois' home side, Dewey tries his fake crying trick as she's carrying a basket of clean clothes from the laundry to the master bedroom. She doesn't fall for it and tells him to give it up because she's not fooled by the attempt. Dewey realizes that he can't fool Lois at all because she's in control of the situation.

However on Hal's home side, Dewey tricks him into reading him a bedtime story which has him falling asleep soon(via a musical carousel). Now free to do whatever he wants, Dewey roasts marshmallows and watches R-rated violent movies on TV.

On Hal's bowling side, Malcolm is great at bowling and has been making strikes impressing his classmates. Beth talks to him and he reassures her she still looks beautiful. She's impressed with him for being both polite and when he bowls another strike. A jealous Reese grabs a bowling ball and throws it in an attempt to hit Malcolm. Unfortunately he misses and hits a large man in an adjacent lane from Hal who falls down. Reese makes the mistake of laughing at him, causing the man to be infuriated at the latter. He is scared and runs away. The large man gets up and chases after him, intent on getting revenge on Reese for throwing a bowling ball at him and walks past Hal as he makes another strike. A fearful Reese spends the rest of his evening hiding from the large man.

On both sides shows Malcolm bowling. Lois' side shows him throwing gutter-balls. Lois is frustrated when he says he hates bowling. Meanwhile on Hal's side, he bowls a strike and Beth cheers him on. Malcolm states he loves bowling.

On Hal's home side, he continues to sleep in the bedroom. In the kitchen, Dewey orders pizza and uses one of Hal's credit cards as payment. On Lois' home side, she reminds him to go to bed.

On Hal's bowling side, the large man continues his search for Reese. As he walks away, Reese peeks out of his hiding spot underneath the table. He is later disgusted by having to be surrounded by fat people sitting there. Malcolm continues enjoying his time with Beth.

On Lois' bowling side, her loud and overbearing cheering isn't helping Malcolm at all and is getting him more ridiculed. Malcolm finally stands up to Lois and walks into the alley, but it is in vain when he fails to hit a single pin even from a foot away. Reese joins in the ridicule and is buddies with the large man. He's further ridiculed and Beth finally had enough of everyone. Reese tells Lois he wasn't originally on board with her staying but actually enjoyed her being around. Malcolm is greeted by Beth who laughs for not hitting a single pin from an inch away, he makes out with her, but Lois breaks it up claiming Malcolm is worse than his father and he and Beth are sitting on opposite sides of the car before taking them all home.

On Lois' home side, she is surprised that Dewey is still in bed. He hasn't tried any of his other tricks and has appeared to have given up. Lois tells Dewey that he's finally realized that all his silly tricks won't get him anywhere. When he is punished in the house, Lois makes sure Dewey serve his time because there isn't getting around it. She decides to let him watch TV because he good until she second guesses herself. Soon Lois lets Dewey watch TV but it's not something he'll enjoy like C-SPAN and neither are sure who won.

On Hal's bowling side, the large man continues to search for Reese, while Malcolm and Beth go behind the bowling alley for some privacy. Hal is on his way to a perfect game until it's accidentally ruined by Malcolm while he was attempting to kiss Beth and his jacket got caught on one of the machines. Upset, he takes Malcolm and orders Reese out of the auto picture booth so they can leave. The large man has finally finds him there and puts in a dollar. Reese attempts to escape, but the large man brings him back into the booth and gets pictures of himself beating Reese up.

In the end, both home sides are shown. On Lois' home side, she and Dewey are watching C-SPAN on TV (a channel he's obviously bored with and is falling asleep). Whereas on Hal's home side, Dewey is enjoying himself in watching a violent movie and eating pizza. When both sides sees flashing headlights from the family car, Lois on her home side, carries Dewey back into his room and tucks him back to bed. She walks back into the living room and sits down on the couch. On Hal's home side, Dewey walks back into his room, wakes Hal up and escorts him back into the living room. After sitting him down and giving him the pizza, Dewey sneaks back into his room. The bowling sides of Hal and Lois come home with the boys. Their home side counterparts ask them how it went with Reese and Malcolm. On their respective bowling sides, Hal and Lois tells them "Next time, you take them!"


Guest Stars[]

  • Alex McKenna as Beth
  • Peter Breitmayer as the Large Man
  • David Bonfadini as Teenage kid
  • Aryn Nelson as Guy (talking to Hal)
  • Curtis Anderson as Delivery Guy
  • Garrett Davis as Guy#2


Dewey: Why can't I go bowling too?
Lois: Because you are spending the night in your room. You are being punished and tomorrow you're going down to the store and buying Mrs. McNabb a new parakeet.
Dewey: Aw, dad.
Hal: Don't look at me. As far as you boys are concerned, your mother and I are a united front.
[Malcolm and Reese appears in the kitchen.]
Malcolm: Ok, we're ready. Whose taking us?
[The scene splits in two.]
Lois:(her bowling side) I'll do it.
Hal:(his bowling side) I'll do it.
Lois:(her home side addressing Dewey) You, to your room. March!
Hal:(his home side) Hey son, race you to your room

Hal: Reese, get out of the photo booth.
[Reese is trying to sneak away, but the large man finds him and puts in a dollar on the slot.]
Reese: You'll probably want your privacy. I'll move out of the way.
[The large man stops Reese and drags him back inside the photo booth. Reese's screams can be heard as the large man gets pictures of himself cowardly beating up Reese.]

[Both home sides are shown. On Lois' home side, she and Dewey are watching C-SPAN on TV. He is obviously bored and is falling asleep on the couch. On Hal's home side, Dewey is enjoying pizza and watching a violent movie. When they see the car lights flash, Lois on her home side carries Dewey back to bed and returns to the couch. On Hal's home side, Dewey walks back into his room and wakes up his father. After escorting him back to the couch and giving him a slice of pizza, Dewey goes back to his room. Hal and Lois appear from their bowing sides with Malcolm and Reese. On Lois' bowling side, both boys are as they appeared. On Hal's bowling side, Reese is beaten up from the large man and Malcolm is the only one as he appeared.]
Hal and Lois:[Home side] So how did it go?
Hal and Lois::[Bowling side] Next time, you take them

[Dewey is faking crying in the bedroom as Lois walks by carrying a basket of clean laundry to the master bedroom.]
Lois: Not Buying It!

Malcolm: Check it out, Beth Ballard's here.
Reese: Yeah, I heard she's the reason why Mr. Thomas got fired.
[Lois shows up after paying for the boys' one pair of shoes and notices there are no parents around.]
Malcolm: You can go now, thanks for the ride.
Lois: Where are the parents? Are there no parents here?
Malcolm: Mom, please don't....
[She ignores Malcolm and addresses the kids unchaperoned]
Reese: Mom, we don't need a chaperone.
Lois: [ignoring Reese] Okay, it's me.

Lois: You are not giving up until you bowl a strike!
Guy: (to Malcolm) Your mothers right Connie.
Malcolm: (annoyed) My names not Connie! Okay mom you want to see a strike?
Lois: Malcolm what are you doing?
Malcolm: (Sarcastically) (Walks down bowling lane) Look at me I'm the world's greatest bowler! I care so much about bowling, bowling is so important!
Lois: Malcolm come back here!
Malcolm: You want a strike? I'll give you a strike! Here's your damn strike! (throws ball at pins but bounces into corner missing them) (People laugh at Malcolm in the background)

[At Home, Lois has tucked Dewey tightly in bed.]
Lois: Go to sleep. I don't want to hear another peep out of you.
Dewey: It's not fair! I don't want to go to sleep early
Lois:[Not letting up] Fine, feel free to lie awake all night.


  • This episode has received overwhelmingly positive reviews since it's airing.
  • This episode was nominated for a WGA Award (TV) for Episodic Comedy.
  • It also won two Emmy awards for Best Writing (Alex Reid) and Directing (Todd Holland) In A Comedy series. Additionally, Frankie Muniz was nominated for an Emmy for Best Lead Actor, becoming the youngest nominee in Emmy history.
  • During Lois' bowling scenario, Malcolm starts going out with Beth and makes out with her, making this episode mark the events of his first official girlfriend and first on-screen kiss.
  • When Lois is carrying Dewey out from his room you'll notice a Charmander plush on the ground to the right of the door.
  • On re-runs of this episode, the scene with Dewey and the Pizza Delivery Guy is usually cut.
  • If one wanted to decide whether Hal or Lois' scenario is canon, it'd be hard to do so, because it's ambiguous which one actually happened. However, if you were to watch the episode Clip Show #2, Lois had a flashback to the time, Malcolm made out with Beth. This only happened in Lois' scenario, meaning that this situation is the one that's canon.
  • This has been the 2nd time Reese has been beat up. The first time is in Bully
  • Reese's screams when being beaten up are similar to Goofy's screams.
  • Francis has a minor role in this episode.


  • In the second last frame that Hal bowls, he takes a drink, walks up the to lane, unzips his pants and says "Gesundheit" and bowls a strike, when he turns around he sees a guy leaving to go to the bathroom and starts pleading with him that everything has to be in the same place and finally the guy says he'll stay. Hal then turns around to repeat the steps he's taken, including unzipping his pants; however, he never zipped them back up because he was too busy pleading with the guy.