WARNING: Slight spoilers for The Middle
Tonight’s edition of ABC’s The Middle deals with some scandalous Heck family history, a super secret relationship, and a fun reunion.
Another reason “The Confirmation” can be considered a very special episode is that it signals the directing debut of one of the show’s actors: Charlie McDermott a.k.a. Axl Heck.
TV Goodness hopped on the phone with McDermott to talk about his experience directing an episode of a show he’s been a part of for eight years.
TV Goodness: Overall, how cool of an experience was it?
Charlie McDermott: It was very cool. It was really, really fun. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. And, yeah, it exceeded all of my expectations. It was great. Actually, no, I had high expectations so it landed right within my expectations. It was what I was hoping for.
TV Goodness: That’s awesome. What surprised you about it once you started getting into the preparation and the filming? Was there anything that surprised you about directing a network comedy?
McDermott: No. Being there for that long and I’ve shadowed a bunch of people so I felt like I had a good grasp of what to expect. But I think, overall, what was really nice was how it went really, really well. I was kind of nervous about the ways it could go bad. But none of them happened. I guess, maybe, it was surprising at how great it was, how smooth it all went.
TV Goodness: How did the cast react to Charlie the Director?
McDermott: They were excited. They’ve known it was something I wanted to do for a long time. So they were very excited. It went incredibly well with them also because we’ve been all acting together for eight years and we’ve all helped each other in one way or another with our performances sometimes when someone’s having trouble with one or even just talking about how it all goes. So it wasn’t much of a transition from actor to director for me at least. Also, a lot of it kind of runs itself. So there wasn’t much that I even kind of do to be perfectly honest. There was a lot to prepare for but once we got there everyone…most people out of crew and cast that have been there have been there for the whole run so everybody knows how to do everything. So, for me, it was just kind of just sit there and make sure nothing goes wrong, basically, and nothing did. It was great.
TV Goodness: The episode that they trusted you to direct is a big one. Can you talk about it or set it up?
McDermott: It was definitely challenging in the sense that I was in a lot of it. That wasn’t the plan initially but the script just kind of developed that way. So I was in it a lot more than I had anticipated. But it turned out to be a good thing because the script was great.
TV Goodness: Can you tease what happens?
McDermott: Brick comes to a meeting with his infant doppelganger Blake Ferguson away at Jesus Wilderness Camp. And stirs up some trouble for himself when he spills the beans to Blake that Brick’s parents took Blake home when he was a baby. So that boils up to a showdown with Monica Horan, actually, who plays Blake’s mom.
In the world of Axl and Sue, Sue and Brad are crushed to find out that Lexie likes Axl but Axl rejected her. So they try to make her feel better by taking her out. Meanwhile, Lexie is dating Axl on the hush hush because Axl does not want Sue to find out so they’re sneaking around behind a very curious Sue and Brad throughout the couple of days.
TV Goodness: You mentioned Monica Horan. That’s pretty huge that you got to direct an Everybody Loves Raymond reunion. How was that to film?
McDermott: It was really cool. I loved Raymond. I watched it a lot when I was growing up. So to me it was definitely a little surreal. She was also incredibly awesome, she was really fun to work with and also just listened a lot. It was nice. Sometimes you’re afraid — it was my first time directing television ever and she’s been doing it for a very long time. So I was kind of self-conscious about maybe coming off telling her too much. She did a great job. It was really cool working with her.
TV Goodness: Could you see the connection that she and Patricia Heaton had on the set?
McDermott: Patty was super excited that Monica was there so it made my job even easier because everyone was in such a great mood. They really had a lot of fun working together again.
TV Goodness: What was it like when you watched the episode for the first time?
McDermott: It was kind of crazy to see how it just looked like an episode of The Middle, which is the goal, but it was surreal to actually see it. It was bizarre.
TV Goodness: Were there any of your own twists that made it in?
McDermott: A few little things but nothing really out of the ordinary. There was one shot I really liked that I definitely spent too much time on and didn’t fit in the episode at all. I tried to put it in they were like, oh no, that’s not necessary. It was this cool cowboy shot with Reverend TimTom but it just had no place in the episode at all, so that was cool but it didn’t actually make it in the episode.
TV Goodness: Deleted scene! What can you tease about the rest of the season — Season 8 is winding down now.
McDermott: There’s a lot of things that come to a head. Axl makes a big end-of-season decision, which is fun. And there’s some Axl/Frankie family love coming up, I think it’s the 21st episode. It’s a nice one. I really like the Axl/Frankie episodes. I don’t know if there was another one this season so it’s nice that they got one in right at the end.
“The Confirmation” episode of The Middle premieresÂ tonight at 8/7c. Keep a sharp eye out for a fun recreation that McDermott had the opportunity to direct. We talked to him all about it so check back here at TV Goodness after the episode airs.
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