Series Name
Season 02, Episode 20
Malcolm Bowling
Air date April 1, 2001
Episode Guide
Tutoring Reese
Malcolm vs. Reese

Bowling is the 20th episode of Season 2 of the show, Malcolm in the Middle. It was directed by Todd Holland and written by Alex Reid.

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' 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 laundomat. 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. Meanwhile on Hal's home side, Dewey is tucked into bed and is warned to behave himself because he's serious about the punishment. This however, encourages him to plot how he can trick his father.

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 while he gets a lane to himself. On Lois' home side, Dewey is tucked into bed and is told to go to bed. He doesn't want to sleep early and Lois tells him that he can lie awake all night.

On Lois' bowling side, Malcolm notices Beth at the party and Reese mentions that she's supposively the reason why Mr. Thomas got fired. 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.

At Hal's home side, 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 refuses to give Francis the money and he understands. 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 is ordered to stay in there. Lois tells Francis they can't afford it right now and he blows up.

On Hal's bowling side, the boys sees Beth at the party. However, Reese talks to her first while Malcolm bowls and is great at it. 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. Later on Beth talks to Malcolm who tells her she still looks beautiful. She's impressed with him 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. Making the mistake of laughing at him, Reese is forced to spend the rest of his evening hiding from the large man who wants to beat the daylights out of him.

On Hal's home side, Dewey tricks him into reading him a bedtime story which has him falling asleep soon. Now free to do whatever he wants, Dewey roasts marshmallows, watches movies and orders pizza. However on Lois' home side, he can't fool her because she's in control of the situation.

On both sides shows Malcolm bowling. Lois' side shows him throwing gutterballs. Lois is fristrated 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 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 she tells him that he's finally realised that all his silly tricks won't get him anywhere. When punished in the house, Lois make 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,

On Hal's bowling side, the large man continues to search for Reese, while Malcolm and Beth goes behind the bowling alley for some privacy. Hal is on his way to a perfect game until it's 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 Hal and Lois comes home with the boys and says "Next time, you take them!"


  • 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.


  • 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.

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