New Neighbors is the 13th episode of season 2 and the 29th episode overall on Malcolm in the Middle. It was directed by Ken Kwapis and written both by Maggie Bandur and Pang-Ni Landrum. The episode aired on Fox in January 21, 2001.
New neighbors move in next door to the Wilkersons. However, it turns to be a serious family feud between Lois, Malcolm, and Reese with Tina, Josh and Emily (Hal and Mike are the only ones who get along). Meanwhile, Commandant Spangler is excited about his hero, Oliver North, coming to visit Marlin Academy. However, he ends up drinking and sleeping on the day he arrives. Francis must come up with an explanation for Spangler's whereabouts.
The intro scene has Hal & Lois discussing Reese's report card. "C in math instead of the usual A+, subtle." Of course, they are forged, but he's picked up the basics, same pen as the teacher, believable grades. In any case, his usual punishment is lowered to three months scrubbing toilets instead of two months grounded.
Lois is vacuuming the living room while the boys watch TV when Hal runs into the living room announcing that there's a moving van next door. Malcolm says families keep moving in and out of the house but he doesn't know why. Flashbacks show that his family's shenanigans are the primary reason including: Malcolm and Reese setting a bag of poop on fire on their porch and accidentally their old neighbor himself judging from their reactions, Reese's bat accidentally hitting ones head, and Hal driving over a beloved pet of another former neighbor. Malcolm assumes that the house is haunted. The new neighbors are professionals no less. Lois is the only one that seems to find it odd that they would move into the rancher next door but informs them to be nice to them so they can have one good relationship with their neighbors. Hal states they need to introduce themselves before the Reeds, McCarthys, or the feared Whitfords do so they can't tell them how horrible they are. After Reese sees Mrs. Schneider observing them they immediately go to introduce themselves.
At Marlin Academy, the cadets are scrubbing the hallways with Spangler stating they'll be practicing their drill performance after they are done. Francis questions the situation since they've been cleaning and drilling for hours and by law they're allowed to sleep. Spangler reveals that Oliver North is visiting Marlin Academy to give the cadets a motivational speech. Spangler worships the man, he has a nationally syndicated radio show after all. Finley questions how North was a convicted felon in the Iran-Contra affair but Spangler reminds him that the conviction was overturned.
The family visits the neighbors who hold a barbecue at their pool as a kind gesture. Lois meets the matriarch Tina right away and tries to get along with her. However, she immediately sees how rude she is to her when Tina refuses to give her time to do the same. Tina's attitude also shows that she thinks Lois is beneath her contempt and she antagonizes Lois for not finding a good ethically challenged doctor for neck and back pain. This sparks a rivalry between the two as they boast which one of them has the better family.
Tina's son, Josh, seemingly is a good boy that wants to be friends with Malcolm and empathizes with him about the torments that Lois puts him through. He even admits his own issues with Tina wanting him to be something he's not. Soon though, it's revealed that he's a pathological and conniving liar who's every turn of phrase gets Malcolm in trouble. This causes the two boys to get into a similar dispute.
The daughter, Emily, seems innocent enough, until she decides to eat Reese alive. He seems to understand that he cannot hit the little girl and Tina thinks there's nothing wrong. However, Lois disagrees and immediately takes action by clamping her nose tight, telling Emily right away that if she wants to breathe properly, she better let go of Reese. She does, but Tina is offended by Lois for her actions against her daughter and desires revenge. The meeting with the neighbors ends with Lois, Malcolm and Reese in a serious feud with Tina, Josh and Emily. The greatest feud is between Dewey and the garden gnome which Josh intentionally lies about by telling him the gnome is evil and eats children and it's the reason they had to move since it was so gruesome, terrifying Dewey.
However, Hal meets the family's patriarch Mike, a man who can cook a burger by flipping it only once, and even teaches him how to do so. They only once feel the need to state that they are not gay, and they share a taste for Cheap Trick and vinyl. At one point Hal calls Mike his best friend and states that he is the best neighbor he's had. Unfortunately, they are dismayed when they learn that their wives and children are now in a serious dispute with each other.
The next day, Mike helps Hal fix his lawnmower and Hal admits he is the first neighbor friend he's had, Mike states he doesn't have many male friends himself. They cheers to friendship and each admit they are straight.
Malcolm is approached by Josh walking home from school but Malcolm tells Josh to leave him alone and calls him out for him constantly making up lies about him. Josh apologizes for being unaware of how sensitive he is. Malcolm's point is proven when Josh tells a girl Malcolm likes her and has been stalking her without giving Malcolm a chance to speak before walking off.
Lois comes outside where Reese is fleeing from Emily and Tina is verbally abusing her gardener Hector asking if he is deaf, stupid or both and how his laziness is driving her nuts. Lois calls her out for treating him like an animal but she states she'll deal with the help the way she wants to. Meanwhile, Dewey throws a rock at the evil gnome only to have it bounced back into his eye causing him to run away screaming.
At dinner the next night Lois states that how horrible Tina is and how she assumes having breast implants and $50 highlights give you a free pass to mistreat others, she states they are officially the worst neighbours they've ever had. Hal disagrees reminding her of the 70 year old swingers they once had for neighbors and how unfair it is to Mike. Reese supports Lois after showing the bite marks Emily gave him and how every time he goes outside she is lying in wait. Malcolm brings up how Josh continually makes up lies about him and how he told the whole school that Malcolm was born a hermaphrodite and raised as a girl until he was five. Dewey brings up how the gnome is evil and wants to eat him, Lois reassures him they are all evil. Reese takes charge when it's revealed that the majority of his family despises the new neighbors and that a family feud is exactly what they need, how having a common enemy will bond them in a brotherhood of blood. Hal's plea for the them to take a long hard look at themselves falls on deaf ears with the family. It doesn't seem to be a winning strategy as Lois reveals how much their family hates Tina's own. She continues to dictate that as long as Tina, Josh and Emily continue to behave like animals, Lois, Reese and Malcolm will continue the feud against them. She forbids Hal from hanging out with Mike again until Tina, Josh and Emily take responsibility for themselves and apologize like decent human beings.
Reese hears Emily giggling outside as he tries to sleep grabbing a baseball bat for protection only to hit himself. At Marlin Academy, Spangler demands that the cadets continue doing the drill until they get it right. The cadets sing the "Candy Man Can" drill.
In the boys bedroom, Malcolm is doing homework while Reese stares out the window knowing Emily is out there waiting for him to leave and it is driving him crazy. Malcolm reminds him how he wanted a feud, but Reese reminds his brother how he never thinks plans through before acting on them. He is also aware that Emily has the upper hand since he cannot hit little kids and he is completely defenseless. Lois calls Malcolm into the kitchen both boys exit the bedroom and Lois tells Malcolm that some police officers would like a word with him, much to his fear.
The police accuse Malcolm of being a Peeping Tom (via Josh's lies), which he tries to deny by explaining the neighbors are all ugly, but his parents claim that peeping is a serious offence.
At night, Hal and Mike sneak out in the middle of the night just so they can enjoy each other's company without their wives finding out. They cheers their beers from opposite sides of the fence and Hal asks Mike about his business trip to Dayton, and Mike asks about a presentation Hal did which he claims a joke Mike told him killed. Hal sees what they've been reduced to and he should be able to talk to his best friend in daylight. After realizing what he said Hal heads back inside.
Days later, Malcolm gets disapproving looks from his neighbors walking home because they all believe Josh's lie. Malcolm says it's been going on for days but thinks it might just blow over until he comes home to Dewey singing a crude song about the subject that he learned at school, and this finally dives him over the edge.
Lois comes outside and sees Tina has ordered Hector to cut down her hedges which infuriates her for crossing the property line, Tina turns on the sprinklers and Lois retaliates by stealing her lawn ornaments (including the gnome) until her hedges are fixed. Lois brings them into the living room and Dewey runs away in fear.
At Marlin Academy, Francis and Eric go to get Spangler who is keeping Oliver North waiting for dinner and he will fill up on cheese and crackers as the cadets have performed "Candy Man" 5 times in a row. The commandant is drunk and unprepared explaining to Francis he was nervous about Colonel North's visit and to calm himself down he drank a few bottles of scotch. Francis attempts to help him but Spangler is convinced he doesn't deserve to meet someone as incredible as Oliver North and he is a lowly worm and gets down on the floor and wriggles like a worm.
That night, Malcolm and Reese team up to try to pay Josh back by planting evidence of stolen goods in front of his window and calling the police anonymously from Stevie's house. Malcolm knows how flawed Reese's plan is but is too desperate to care anymore. Reese explains to Malcolm that it's impossible to clear his own name, the only solution is to ruin someone else's. In his point of view, once their scheme works, Josh will get arrested for theft and larceny, and Emily will get placed into a foster home, to which will lead to her foster parents leaving her at a rest stop by the side of the road to bite hillbillies and truckers because their parents will be too tied up in legal troubles for him to pay attention to her or to bother either Malcolm or Lois.
However, their real source of revenge comes when they sneak over to plant the evidence against Josh and inadvertently catch Tina, naked, cheating on Mike with her gardener, Hector, in the family's Jacuzzi. The two soon notice Malcolm and Reese, and both sides scream loudly. In the scramble to get out of the Jacuzzi, Tina accidentally knocks Hector out cold. As she struggles to keep him above water, the neighbors, hearing the commotion, all come peeping over the fence (as do Hal and Lois), and she makes a frail attempt to lie her way out of trouble (claiming Hector was teaching her to swim) to no avail. The incident humiliates Josh, Tina, and Emily so badly that they immediately move away from the neighborhood.
On the day Ollie North arrives, Spangler gets drunk to calm his nerves and immediately sleeps right through it. The next morning, Francis, Eric and Finley go to inform Spangler of what happened with Eric emphasizing how creepy it was how he spent the night wriggling around on the floor crying for his mother. When Francis informs him that it's morning and he already missed reveille he's distraught about missing his hero's visit, but Francis convinces him that he and Ollie got drunk together and enjoyed each others company like old friends and that he was the happiest Francis had ever seen him. In doing so, we have an entire episode where Francis has not broken a single rule, law or international treaty. After leaving the office, Finley commends Francis for being so thoughtful, Eric mentions that he, Francis, and everybody will be receiving photos of Spangler dressed in a negligee on Wednesday. (a prank they pulled while he was inebriated) since poster size takes two days.
Malcolm's good name is restored when the neighbors learn that Josh was a pathological liar and scum to begin with. He, Lois, and Reese are ecstatic when they learn Tina and her kids move back to Zacksville, Florida and Dewey conquered his gnome enemy by letting a moving truck crush him to pieces. Only Hal is distraught when he sees Mike leaving in a separate car after discovering that Tina had been cheating on him for a while. However, before he goes, he gives Hal a mix tape to remember him by. Days later, a new neighbor named Steve attempts to befriend Hal, but Hal tells him that he still needs time to heal.
- 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
- Robin Riker as Tina, the mother of Josh and Emily and Mike's wife. When Lois attempted to get along with her, Tina is revealed to be rude and antagonistic. This plays an important role in their dispute as both boasted they have the better family. Tina was offended when Lois disciplined Emily in a manner she didn't like. Near the end, Reese, Malcolm and the neighbors caught her cheating on Mike with her gardener, Hector. Immediately humiliated and fearing a confrontation with Mike if he learned the truth about her affair, Tina and her children move away. This made Lois extremely happy because she doesn't have to put up with her rude and antagonistic behavior.
- Gregory Jbara as Mike, the father of Josh and Emily and husband of Tina. He was the only family member to get along with Hal and was dismayed with his family for getting into serious disputes with his new friend's family. Mike eventually finds out about Tina cheating on him with her gardener and his family left him. He seems okay with moving on with his life without them and gives Hal a remix tape to remember him by.
- Michael Welch as Josh, Tina and Mike's son, along with Emily's older brother. Seemingly a good boy at first in wanting to be friends with Malcolm, but was revealed to be a pathological and conniving liar that got him into trouble with everyone. Josh is humiliated when he learns about Tina's affair with her gardener and is forced to move away with his family so Malcolm doesn't use this against him.
- Dakota Fanning as Emily, Tina and Mike's four-year-old daughter and Josh's sister. She looks innocent and Reese tries to befriend her. However, it's revealed that she has a biting problem and he realizes he can't hit her. Lois disciplines her by clamping her nose tight and tells her that if she wants to breathe properly she better stop biting Reese and let him go. This offended Tina and made her want to avenge Emily for what Lois did to her. She later moves away out of shame with her mother and brother after Tina's affair with her gardener becomes public.
- Christopher DerGregorian as Hector, Tina's gardener whom has an affair with her.
- Denalda Williams as a cop
- Zack Phifer as Steve Jenkins, the new neighbor of the Wilkersons
- Sarah Ashley as a teenage girl
- John Lee Ames as Cadet 1(uncredited)
- Chris Chee as Cadet 2(uncredited)
- Bradley Thomas Taylor as Cadet 3(uncredited)
- This episode differed from the script.
- Emily was supposed to trick Dewey into believing the Gnomes were evil children hunting monsters, which gets her severely punished by Lois who spanks her for lying to him.
- Tina's animosity with Lois is much worse when Mike recognizes her from their days in college, revealing that the two were old friends. In turn, Lois sees her as a reminder to Susan.
- Originally Josh and Emily have an older brother named Brandon who torments Reese by bullying him.
- Hal originally didn't get along with Mike believing that he was a former boyfriend of Lois, which they denied. He explains to Hal that Lois is his college best friend who helped get over his heartbreak for Susan. Realizing this, he apologizes to Mike and bond over his abilities to cook a burger patty once and love for records. In turn, he apologizes to Hal and Lois for his wife and older son's behavior.
- Josh and Malcolm become best friends over their shared affinity for comic books and being normal. This puts them in a bind when they notice their families fighting.
- Lois and Tina's fighting escalates much worse in the parking lot at the mall over a parking space. This results in a car fight between the women and their eventual arrest.
- Despite being forbidden from seeing each other by Lois and Tina, Malcolm makes secret visits to Josh and both boys head over to Stevie's house. Hal also sees Mike in secret when they spend the night drinking outside.
- Josh learns about his mother's affair with Hector during one of his secret visits to their home while Mike is out.
- Reese and Brandon's fighting gets much worse when he is accused of being a peeping Tom in the girl's locker room, resulting in Lois yelling at him over something he never did. This sends both Josh and Malcolm over the edge.
- That night, Josh and Malcolm get their revenge on Brandon by tricking him into confessing as all three catch Tina's affair with Hector. Malcolm and Brandon are horrified and scream. Everyone in the neighborhood comes out to witness the affair. Josh safely takes Malcolm inside his home to watch TV. Brandon is left outside in the backyard so the neighbors would have to blame him for being a peeping Tom. Emily makes his situation worse by tattling about him framing Reese for peeping in the girls' locker room at his school. Brandon yells at her to shut up or else she'll get beaten up. Tina yells at him to behave himself.
- Tina is humiliated when Mike comes home and discovers her affair with Hector in front of the neighbors. Lois is smug as he kicks Hector out of the Jacuzzi and he flees for home naked. Mike proceeds to yell at Tina for humiliating him and their kids in front of their neighbors with her affair. Believing that Brandon knew about the affair and lied about it, Mike severely reprimands him for his behavior. He tosses divorce papers in front of Tina since he now knows about her affair.
- Later on at night, Lois is seen gloating at Tina. She blames Lois for ruining everything for her and her kids. She points out that Tina should've never cheated on Mike with Hector in the first place. Tina announces they'll find better neighbors in her hometown of Jacksonville, Florida than deal with an overbearing mother in Lois, a delinquent son in Reese and a naive little boy in Dewey. Lois points out it's better for her to be an overbearing control freak than to be a promiscuous little brat. Angered, Tina drives off with Brandon and Emily to live in Jacksonville.
- The next day, Mike and Josh are leaving for a small town in California in a separate car. Hal and Malcolm are distraught over losing their respective best friends. Josh tells Malcolm that he has decided to live with Mike instead of Tina, who fled town immediately following her humiliating confrontation with him and divorce. She has taken an equally humiliated Brandon and Emily to live with her in Jacksonville. Josh mentions that he and Mike are relieved to move on without the three troublemakers in their family. Before leaving, Mike gives Hal a mix tape that he was working on and Josh gives Malcolm a comic book that the two worked on together.