February 8, 2001
Arwen in the Middle
Walk through the writers' rooms of most TV sitcoms and you might think you've wandered into a day-care center for bright young adults. Full of toys and sugary snacks and wacky wall art, they're like playpens with sofas, the peculiar province of former nerds for whom every day is dress-down Friday.
Real work is being done in all these places, but the inhabitants don't usually like being caught at it. There's a different feel to the "Malcolm" writers' room, despite the jars of candy and gum and the dart board in the corner.
For one thing, there's the blueprint of the house where Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) and his brothers live with their parents. It's posted above one sofa so the writers can keep track of characters' entrances and exits.
While conversations occasionally wander off point - there's desultory talk about Liv Tyler's role in "Lord of the Rings" and of a wedding one producer had attended - the writers tend to stick to the work at hand.