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November 23, 2014

The Middleman: The Pilot Episode Sanction (series premiere)

by Paul Goebel, posted Jun 17th 2008 8:40AM

The Middleman and Wendy(S01E01) "I think Jughead's a real hoot." - Wendy Watson

From the beginning, I can tell this show is going to be pretty campy. That always tends to make me nervous. There are very few shows that can do camp and still be truly entertaining. I consider Batman to be one of those shows, although I know there are many who disagree. The corny looking mutant, the cheap special effects, the conversation about dating; all these things point straight towards camptown, but it's only the first three minutes.

Generally, I am not a fan of shows with quickly spoken dialog. It reminds me of how great Bruce and Cybill did it on Moonlighting. However, when it's done right, it not only sets a tone for the show but also gives the characters more freedom to have fun with the script. In the case of Middleman, I think it really works. Matt Keeslar and Natalie Morales have a nice rapport and their serious tone is a nice juxtaposition to the outrageous situations. One more point for the show.

One of my pet peeves in sci-fi or fantasy shows is when one of the characters can't believe what they're seeing. It's really annoying when twenty minutes of the show is taken up by one character trying to convince the other that what they're seeing is actually happening. On this show, it wasn't even an issue. Not only did Wendy not question what she was being shown, she didn't really seem to care. That was kind of neat.

I really liked the explanation of the title and how there really is no explanation for who's in charge, but it was the homage to The Avengers that got me hooked. A montage that includes, fencing, kicking and doing the swim is the perfect recipe for a good, campy show.

It's as if the producers heard me saying, "The only thing this show is missing is Mary Lynn Rajskub." I really like the fact that most of the actors on this show are so unknown, even a pseudo-celebrity like Mary Lynn can stand out.

Another aspect of the show that I appreciate is the respect it pays to the graphic novel (aka comic book). Not only does the show use comics as the blueprint for how their world works (evil scientists and monsters trying to take over the world) but they also give plenty of shout outs (Wally West, Gorilla Grodd, Jughead). I love a show that knows how to reference pop culture without overdoing it.

There's a real simplicity to this show that makes it a perfect fit for for ABC Family. It's plenty wacky and funny enough for youngsters but the references are clearly aimed at their parents. I'll have to watch an episode with my daughters first but The Middleman may be the first show on ABC Family that the three of us can actually enjoy together.

I'm not going to say that the show was brilliant or anything but I will admit that it was much better than I expected. There's plenty of room for improvement but the first episode had more than enough to get me to tune in again.

Will you watch The Middleman again?
Yes281 (94.3%)
No17 (5.7%)

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tracey

Definitely reminds me of MIB -- but in a good way of course. First: it involves the unbelievable made real, and the main characters are responsible for controlling it and covering it up. Second: it involves an experienced person bringing in a new person on the basis of that new person's skillful handling of a problem with the unbelievable.

June 25 2008 at 9:45 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dennis

The simplicity of the show is definitely a draw, but it belies the thoughtfulness of the numerous pop and niche culture references. I had a blast listening closely to the quick dialog and watching Wendy react to the wacky situations around her. I will definitely watch this show again... and again and again every Monday night.

June 18 2008 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tingrin87

it really does remind me of Men in Black - anyone else feel this?

June 18 2008 at 1:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Holtzinger

I found it a bit strange that Matt Keeslar's voice sounds eerily like Thomas Gibson (Hotch) from Criminal Minds.

June 17 2008 at 4:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to David Holtzinger's comment
Chris

I think he sounds like Brad Pitt

I liked the show, it will get me through the summer hopefully.

June 18 2008 at 8:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Delliss

I will be watching, just like I watched another show, "Good & Evil", that this one reminds me of, hopefully it will last longer than eleven episodes.

June 17 2008 at 4:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeremy

I really liked the pilot. Reminds me a little of Eureka, not as good, a lot more silly, and fun.

June 17 2008 at 3:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Oreo

So this terrible show gets reviewed but you completely blow off the wonderful Greek?

June 17 2008 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mj green

My son and I watched, and really enjoyed it. I will watch again, and hope it stays good. Loved the Avengers montage! Ah, Mrs. Peel. I actually liked the way it started. Watching her, then noticing the background, was funny. And anyone who mentions good comic books is right with me.

June 17 2008 at 11:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ryan

I thought it was a fun show. Kinda like the Tick to a little bit.

I do like the list of comics she said she reads. Impressive list and not the normal stock "comic fan" character list.

June 17 2008 at 9:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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