Monday, August 04, 2008

Don't Cut Out The Middleman

One of the first things I am going to miss with my son off at college is watching campy geeky TV shows with him. Previously, I've mentioned that our favorite shows last season were Chick Chuck and The Big Bang Theory (which had very little banging unless you count Melissa Gilbert).

Earlier this summer, at dinner my son said he wanted to get home early in order to watch a new show called The Middleman. I said not to worry, I already had it programmed into the DVR. Great minds think alike that way.

The Middleman is an hour long comedy on ABC Family that can best be described as a cross between Men In Black and Alias. There are also generous dollops of The X-Files and The Avengers mixed in. All done in a campy winking at the camera style.

A mysterious fighter of things supernatural and extraterrestrial recruits a young artist as his apprentice. Wendy Watson (or Dub-Dub), played by Natalie Morales, is a cute twenty-something art student that lives in an illegal sublet with her even more attractive roommate. There are also a series of mysteriously omnipresent other hipsters hanging around as eye candy.

Matt Keeslar plays the titular yet unnamed Middleman as a 50s era Dudley Do-Right straight arrow that drinks nothing stronger than milk and swears with G-rated exclamations that would make the Cleaver family wince.

Each episode has the two Middlemen fighting some ridiculous form of villainy. So far they have fought talking gorillas, fish zombies, and cursed tubas. The witty banter is razor sharp and filled with pop culture asides. If you don't know who Gorilla Grodd or Howard the Duck are, you are missing some of the best zingers. There are also funny running gags like the little time and place in the establishing shots. It's all very high density comedy.

While being on ABC Family would make you think it's too clean cut to be entertaining, that is not the case. There is some sly mild sexual and drug-related innuendo (I did mention that the lead character is a twenty-something artist, didn't I?). One of the funny recurring gags is the beep and black mouth bar anytime a character says something that would draw an FCC fine.

With my son at college, I don't have anyone to laugh along with while my wife rolls her eyes at the zingers that go over her head. The show airs Mondays at 10pm EST. Their website contains the usual silly promotional gimmicks including a Middleman character generator. I always like to use these things to create a Mii-like avatar, but the guys seem to come out sort of androgynous and emo-ish. The girl dress-up doll is intended to replicate Sexiest Woman Alive Angelina Jolie circa Mr. and Mrs. Smith because their kids would probably make great Middlemen themselves someday.


Anonymous said...

I like Middleman a lot - what a refreshing summer series. Though lately I'm finding myself getting more into the subplots and character arcs than the main (silly) plots. Even my girlfriend, who eschews most anything reeking of "geeky" was acting somewhat interested in the romantic subplot (MM & Lacey at the movies) in the last episode.

yellojkt said...

The show does have a nice balance of stand-alone story line as well as continuing arcs. That way you don't miss a lot if you skip an episode, but it pays to pay attention.

Elizabeth said...

This sounds like a show I might really like! We don't get any broadcast TV, so I guess I'll have to wait until it is out on Netflix.

yellojkt said...

ABC Family is a basic cable station that long ago used to be Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network. Contractually, they still carry The 700 Club at 11 pm. I can't grab the remote fast enough after Middleman is over.