The episode first aired on April 1, 2001.
In a Sliding Doors parody the viewers see what happens with the boys when they go bowling with Hal and Lois. In both scenes, Dewey must stay home as his punishment for killing the neighbor's parakeet. Another subplot has him staying home with Hal and another with Lois.
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, she warns Malcolm and Reese to behave themselves at the bowling alley 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 the boys 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. 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 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 and decides to stay there to chaperone it herself. Reese impresses Beth and attempts to tell a joke, but is constantly interrupted by Lois. Malcolm is terrible at bowling and is ridiculed when he gets a ball with "Connie" engraved on it.
On Hal's bowling side, the boys sees Beth at the party. 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 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 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 give Francis the money, reminding 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. Dewey attempts to sneak out of his room, but she busts him in the act and is ordered to stay his room. Lois tells Francis they can't afford it right now and he blows up.
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 tells him to give it up because she's not buying it. Dewey realizes that he can't fool Lois 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.
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. Making the mistake of laughing at him, Reese spends the rest of his evening hiding from the large man who wants to beat the daylights out of him.
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 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.
On Lois' bowling side, her loud and overbearing cheering isn't helping Malcolm at all and is getting him more ridiculed. Reese joins in the ridicule and is buddies with the large man. When Malcolm finally stands up to Lois, he's further ridiculed and Beth finally had enough of everyone. Malcolm gets a kiss from her, but Lois ruins it and takes the boys home.
On Lois' home side, she is surprised that Dewey is still in bed. He hasn't tried any of his other trick 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 T.V. because he good until she second guesses herself. Soon Lois lets Dewey watch T.V., 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 found him, brings him back into the booth and gets pictures of himself cowardly 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 not enjoying). 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. On Hal's home side, he 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!"
- Jane Kaczmerek as Lois
- Bryan Cranston as Hal
- Christopher Kennedy Masterson as Francis
- Justin Berfield as Reese
- Erik Per Sullivan as Dewey
- Frankie Muniz as Malcolm
- 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
- 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. 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.]
- 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 boy's 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....
- Lois: WHERE ARE YOUR PARENTS?! Who's chaperoning this?
- Reese: Mom, we don't need a chaperone.
- Lois: [ignoring Reese] Ok, it's me.
- [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.
- There are technically clones of the Wilkerson Family which is kind of funny and confusing because some of them are seen at bowling and at home.
- 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.