(S01E12) "Can't wait to hear this guy's monologue. 'I am the Palindrome. Feel my power. Power my feel. Palindrome the am I.'" --The Middleman
Paul's out and about traveling; I think he's been recruited to the exciting world of temporary employment by the Jolly Fats Wehawkin Temp Agency; so I'm stepping in to cover the first season finale of The Middleman. I'm not even going to consider this as a series finale because it's just too smart and too good to end. ABC Family has yet to make a decision one way or the other about the future of the show, but apparently ratings haven't been great so it's riding the bubble right now.
I also try to keep up with returning shows to see what they've done in their off-season. If it's one I watch, then I want to see if they've tweaked the formula in any way; and if it's one I don't, then I'm always interested to see if they've come up with something to pull me in. With tonight the unofficial start of the fall season, we see the newest networks, FOX and The CW getting an early start by returning three prominent shows. We also say goodbye, maybe forever, to one of the most enjoyable new shows of the summer while TNT takes the chance to bow a new series.
Well, well, Wendy Watson. Wow! Natalie Morales was possibly looking hotter than ever in the opening scene of tonight's episode. it's amazing the depth of cleavage they are able to create with what assets she has. The power of Hollywood brassieres, I guess. My wife would kill for that magical ability. I wouldn't be displeased either.
Then they upped the ante by giving us a full-on panties and bra scene. Or boxers and t-shirt for the Middleman if that's more your flavor. I guess for next week, she'll spend the entire episode in a string bikini. Maybe that'll help the ratings. It's sad to think that next week is the season, and possibly series, finale of what has become a charmingly delightful little show.
(S01E10) "I'd rather lick money." - Lacey Thornfield
As exciting as the idea of Lacey having a sexy dream is, the feeling was immediately counteracted when she revealed that the dream involved Pip. The saving grace is that anyone who took Psych 101 in college could figure out that Pip was just a substitution for The Middleman. The uniform was a dead giveaway.
One thing that keeps me watching this show is the introduction of new characters that inhabit Wendy's life. Meeting Noser's roommate Anvil was very cool. I don't know if he's an artist like most of the other residents of the illegal sublet, but if he is, I really want to see his work.
(S01E08) "Guy I Don't Know is starting to look like Guy I've Known My Whole Life." - Noser
Yo, Wendy Watson. Thanks for wearing the skimpy dress in the very first scene of the show.
For the most part, scenes with two attractive young people flirting with each other while spouting flippant duologue has been done to death. For some reason that I can't quite identify, the scenes in tonight's show worked for me. Maybe it's the huge crush I have on Natalie Morales, maybe it's the fact that The Middleman is chock full of that kind of dialogue, maybe it's because I still feel bad about what happened to Brendan Hines on The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
(S01E07) "8660 Hawkins Lane, Apt 9. God am I underpaid." Ida and then the very next scene caption
Paul will be pleased to see that the continuing theme of opening each episode checking out hot Wendy and hot Wendy's hot roommate continued in this installment. And once again, it was hot Wendy's hot roommate who was wearing less and heating up the screen more. But then we got a bonus edition of the hotness on board the Titanic. Even the Middleman changed his suit for that one.
I think this episode returned the show to form, keeping the humor and lightness, but adding a real sense of emotional attachment to these characters and their various situations. Sure some things hit better than others, but The Middleman is really starting to hit its stride and stand as a pretty damned good series.
Besides the panels that focused on various television programs, Comic-Con also had panels on the TV industry in general. One of these panels that I had time to cover was on genre television shows.
This wasn't a panel featuring writers and producers of obscure genre shows you have never heard of. The people on this panel had long careers in television and, in most cases, were actively writing or producing. These included Steve Melching, writer on the new Star Wars: The Clone Wars movie, Ashley Miller, writer on The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and Susan Watson, showrunner for Middleman. Also included on the panel were Harry Werskman and Gabrielle Stanton -- former showrunners for Moonlight.
Well, crap. I don't think there is really any way to spin this in a good way. ABC Family has cut the order for Middleman episodes from 13 to 12. That's rarely a good sign. Television history isn't exactly full of stories that go, "Then they cut the episode order, and everything was frickin' awesome." All is not lost though. Please join me in taking solace in the fact that the show hasn't actually been canceled.
A quick trip to Radio Free Javi, where you should go for all of your Grillo-Marxuachian news, tells a little more of the tale. As Javi puts it, the show is getting great reviews and the network loves it, but the ratings have not been stellar. He adds that the decision to drop the 13th episode was a joint one, between himself and the network. A possible silver lining is his mention of pooling their resources to make the finale the biggest and best that it can be. So, tell your friends to watch, and tell them to tell their friend with the Nielsen box to watch. The Middleman really is a good show and deserves to make it to a second season.
Unfortunately with this panel, I didn't get any decent pictures worth sharing. The room this panel was held in was small, though crowded, and the lighting was horrible. To make matters worse, only Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Matt Kesslar were in attendance; Natalie Morales appeared in a recorded message that she couldn't attend. So what about the other cast members?
Not a whole lot was revealed about the upcoming episodes, though we were treated to some scenes from them. We were told that the season finale is completely filled with the Middleman screaming profanity, complete with blacked-out mouths and bleeps. Aaand ... that's about it.
Gallery: The Middleman - Comic-Con 2008
(S01E06) "Bring it, Marvin." -- Wendy Watson
It seems that the writers of The Middleman have decided to stop opening the show with sexy scenes featuring Natalie Morales and start also including sexy scenes featuring Brit Morgan. Watching her do those dance moves more than made for the ham-handed way the writers attempted to get me to care about Varsity Fanclub. Clearly my taste in music is tragically unhip, since I thought the band was fictional until about three hours before the episode aired.
I know Pip is supposed to be the unlikable douchebag of the show, but his character isn't interesting enough for me to care about. His dialogue reminds me of a non-animated Cartman. Someone who thinks they're better than everyone he knows and yet he still seeks approval from those people. The difference is Drew Tyler Bell is no Eric Cartman.
(S01E05) The basics of the show are established by the fifth episode and now it's up to the characters and the premise to sustain it. With this episode, The Middleman proves that it knows how to dance that fine balance between the campy silliness of its plotlines and snappy dialog and the deeper relationships between the principal cast.
I wasn't sure early on if Wendy's supporting cast, namely Lacey and Noser, were going to work in the long run on the show, but I think the normalcy they represent in Wendy's life is as important as the work-driven lunacy that the Middleman and Ida represent. In fact, those two are almost caricatures in their personality, which juxtaposes them even moreso with Noser and Lacey, who are gaining depth and complexity without sacrificing the innate quirkiness that made them work in the first place.
(S01E04) One thing that really pleases me about The Middleman is how the show walks the line between outrageous fantasy and realistic technology. While Lacey was rattling off all the places on the internet where Wendy's breakup could be seen, I was trying to catch something that sounded made up but it all seemed very reasonable, especially the girlfriend revenge site.
On the other hand, I wasn't too crazy about Dr. Gil. Clint Culp is a guy who I see quite often at auditions and he's very talented, but why would the writers do something as lame as a Dr. Phil parody? If the show were being produced 20 years ago would the character be named Alfredo Riviero or Horton Downer Sr?
I don't know a lot of people who really like Mondays. Off the top of my head, the only one that comes to mind is Seattle radio personality The Groz.
The Groz loves Mondays. Most of us, I think, would prefer that Monday was another stop on our weekend tour. It makes it hard to get things going on occasion. If you're having that problem, I have just the cure. A girl in a bear costume, dancing to the title track from that Camp Rock movie. It's embedded after the jump, and really, it will brighten your day.
The scene is an outtake/bonus cut from last week's episode of The Middleman, where we learned of Lacey's fondness for dressing up in a bear costume. But wait, there's more. That little gem came from the Livejournal of Middleman head honcho Javier Grillo-Marxuach. It's a handy link to keep checking back to. And if the dancing bear isn't enough Middleman goodness for you, head on over to ABC Family and watch the entire table read for the episode "The Sino-Mexican Revolution." It's a fun behind the scenes look.
Even the previews for The Middle Man capture that cheese-tastic tone that made the '60s Batman an instant classic. Like Paul, I also enjoy the frenetic pace of the dialogue and the bright colors that sprinkle the show. I've selected the picture over there to explore the costume difference Paul mentioned, wherein Natalie Morales' Wendy Watson dresses pretty hot when off-duty, and then when working wears a suit that truly doesn't work on a woman, as mentioned last episode.
Why can't she put on that Avengers' Emma Peel catsuit she's wearing in the opening credits. She looks really damned hot there. The show itself seems to speak to a mix of that and Get Smart! though The Middle Man is more Agent 99 to Wendy's Maxwell Smart. Even the little goofy things like giving us the time from different time zones each scene change, and not necessarily a time zone that we're in. But in each case it's relevant to the plotline. We get Shanghai time when we're in a Chinese restaurant for example. It's these little touches of quirky humor that make the show such a unique success.
(S01E02) "I'm as serious as a hefty bag full of Rottweilers." - The Middleman
One thing I noticed about last week's episode carried over into the opening scene of this week. When Wendy is "off the clock" she seems to always dress in very relaxed clothes; skimpy shorts, halters, etc. Her hot roommate not only enjoys the freedom that shorts and tanks offer but apparently has no problem with public nudity as well, especially if it's in the name of freedom. I'm not sure what these fashion choices mean but it's something I couldn't help notice.
I have a feeling Ida is going to be my favorite character on this show. Not because Mary Pat Gleason is a talented veteran actress but because she seems to have an endless array of functions. Not only can she produce a cup of coffee from her midsection but it comes in a to go cup with the logo of an imaginary coffee shop already printed on it. Very cool.
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