For the Season 5 finale of “The Middle”, at the finish line, the show gave us one last, fleeting look at Axl’s increasingly hot body. In the one-hour special, the Hecks travel to Disney World in Florida on a prize Sue won and, through a series of mishaps, wind up in an unbelievably cushy room well above their standards.
Axl, eager to partake of the fluffy king-sized bed, is shown stripped to his classic boxers, laying in repose. The camera shot is a decent one, giving us his POV of being on a luxurious mattress. Kudos to the writers for working in a premise to get him shirtless again. This is the first time showing the Chest-O-Meter made sense in a loooooong time!
In a scene that follows, the family oversleeps, and it’s a hurried rush to get dressed - just like back in good ol’ Orson! We see the Axe Man tugging on shorts, quickly enough to cause his shirt to flap up and give us a quick peek of his belly. Oh, so titillating…
While it was good to see Charlie show off again, to put this appearance in perspective, the last time “Middle” viewers got to see Axl in boxers or shirtless was the March 12 episode. Yes, Axl Watchers…the last time Axl was in boxers was over two months ago.
Another observation - this season, Axl only seemed to do the shirtless thing when around the rest of the Hecks. In only one scene did we see Axl without a shirt at college - an episode that aired even earlier in the season. I put it to the producers and writers to work a shirtless premise in while Axl’s on campus. How about:
- Trying out for swimming, diving, water polo?
- Running shirtless on campus to impress a chick in the dorm?
- Being the victim of a campus prank where he’s stripped naked?
It doesn’t take much imagination to do these - just think like a soap opera writer is all I’m suggesting to the “Middle” writers.
So, for the fifth season, there was a (very small) handful of scenes where Charlie was frontin’ it - not more than three or four. Were I to assign a letter grade to the season purely on that basis, I’d give it a “D”. Those that tuned in to see Charlie in boxers were disappointed week after week after week. Again - I blame the show’s writers and producers, not Charlie himself.
While it’s true that the premise of the show is presented from Frankie’s point of view, the producers can’t forget many of the viewers who “brought them to the dance.” I am glad the show kept Axl in the mix - he was the hook that got me watching it. Everything else, while excellent, is secondary.
With Axl returning as a sophomore for Season 6 with Hutch as his roommate, I can only hope that the table is being set for more on-campus hijinks, preferably with Axl sowing his wild oats with the ladies - at frat parties, pool parties, beer pong parties, whatever ABC’s Standards & Practices department will allow.
My advice to the writers and producers - get back to the basics. Remember what helped make the show popular - Axl - excuse me, “Sir Axl of Awesomeness.”
And stay tuned to this blog over the summer as I keep watch for images and news on Charlie McDermott!!!