The Hecks embark on a road trip to Walt Disney World and attempt to stay positive despite a barrage of mishaps that threaten to ruin their trip, on the one-hour season finale of ABC's "The Middle."
The message in the ABC sitcom's season finale: Your family doesn't have to be perfect to have a good time here. Fighting, fainting and near disaster finally gave way to joy over park rides and fireworks.
But first the Heck family learned the tickets it had won were to Disneyland, not Disney World. Guest relations smoothed out that fiasco and gave the Heck family a swank hotel room.
More troubles cropped up: Daughter Sue (Eden Sher) needed medical attention twice, first for fainting, then for eating too fast. Son Brick (Atticus Shaffer) dawdled over getting a mouse-ears hat and fretted over losing it. The family slept late, and son Axl (Charlie McDermott) fumed that his family wouldn't get on rides.
"What is wrong with this family?" exasperated mom Frankie (Patricia Heaton) asked. "Look around. There are thousands of people at Walt Disney World having the time of their lives. Not this sorry group."
Yet things turned around when dad Mike (Neil Flynn) said he wanted to go to Epcot so he could take Frankie to Paris, because he'd never be able to take her to the real city. The kids stopped fighting and started enjoying, a shift quickly captured in a montage of park scenes.
Frankie concluded, "If you had seen us, you would swear we were one of those perfect families. Which leads me to believe they probably don't exist. You just can't be perfect with your family. You give them your best, but you also give them your worst. And if you can survive a family vacation, you're doing OK."
Cut to a Walt Disney World commercial, which was redundant, because "The Middle" had done a fine job of selling Disney World. The episode concluded with zany family photos from the vacation.
The first-half of the hour season finale explored the family's difficulties on a bumpy ride to Central Florida. "Orlando" became the family's code word for thinking positive.
"The Middle" at Disney World remained true to the show's spirit: more sarcasm than sentiment, with hard-won understanding in the end.