The Middleman is the funniest show on TV right now… if you’re a geek like me.[[image:middlepics00.jpg:Watch it on ABC Family (only one more episode left… Monday night):right:0]]
But I’ll get to that in a minute.
Created by former scribe of Jake 2.0 and Lost, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, The Middleman reveals to us that there is one Middleman in existence in the world from a still-indisclosed point in time in the past. His job is to take care of extraordinary and highly bizzare problems, which usually involves incidents related to aliens, demons, mad scientists and mixes or variations thereof. The Middleman is also responsible for training an apprentice Middleman to take over one day because of the lethal occupational hazards.
And they work for a secret agency so secret and so efficient (their equipment gets replenished and upgraded almost immediately from unknown sources) and nameless that the Middleman himself has to give it his own acronym OTS2K, which stands for Organisation Too Secret To Know.
This all sounds like it’s something like The X-Files. Though The X-Files has its share of dark and droll humour (and a handful of outstanding comedy episodes), The Middleman is straight-out, rip-roaring, screwball comedy show… but only if you grow up on movies, TV shows, novels and comics like I did. It doesn’t let up from referencing everything from Star Wars, Star Trek, Dune, Ghostbusters, Die Hard, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Back To The Future, Doctor Who, Planet of the Apes…. even Y: The Last Man gets a namedrop.
[[image:middlepics01.jpg:The HEYDAR has a particle accelerator?!?:left:0]]The story goes: when young down-on-her-luck, out-of-work artist Wendy Watson is faced with the sudden creation and release of a “hentai tentacle monster” (yes, that’s in the script and no, it doesn’t go down that path, you pervs) at her temp job answering phone calls at a genetics research facility, she meets the current Middleman who solves the problem easily. The Middleman is amazed at Wendy’s (nicknamed either Dubbie or Dub-Dub) coolness when faced with the bizarre scenario. After being fired from that job, Wendy is invited for an interview at the Jolly Fats Wehawkins Temp Agency… which turned out for a front for The Middleman’s organisation.
And after some soul-searching, she agrees to be the new Middleman in training.
They are supported by Ida, the “soulless android from outer space masquerading as a cranky librarian” and the Interridroid, a hapless, mute and cute robot that gets blown up almost every episode it appears in. And Dubbie has to juggle her new day job fighting evil a secret from her friends, roommate Lacey Thornfield (who calls The Middleman “Sexy Boss-Man” or “Pillow Lips”), Noser from across the hall (who speaks enigmatic lines pertaining to music lyrics which sometimes only Dubbie understands) and later in the season, her boyfriend Tyler Ford, a down-on-his-luck, out-of-work musician who can keep up with Wendy’s 30 pop-culture references a second talk.
[[image:middlepics02.jpg:WW and MM:right:0]]The two leads, Matt Keeslar and Natalie Morales, are fantastic in their roles. Keeslar – whose performance reminds me of a mix of Peter Graves’ Captain Oveur in Airplane! and Robert Llewellyn’s Kryten from Red Dwarf – and pulls off a role that is strangely familiar but in a class of his own as the unnamed current Middleman who never swears and orders milk to drink in bars while beating up bad guys. When he does swear, he’ll spout ridiculously funny oaths which are appropriate to the situation like, “Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!” or “Story of O!” or “Sweet Molly Brown!” never losing that old 1950s leading actor persona whether he’s facing down genetically-engineered apes with tommy guns or giving Dubbie some old fashioned advice on her troubled civilian life.
And the most astonishing thing is that despite all the wackiness, it manages to pull off emotional weight when required (with hints of true love between the Middleman and Lacey, as well as Dubbie considering the Middleman to be the closest thing she has to a father).
However, after only 12 episodes, it might be time to say goodbye to The Middleman, since it might not have gotten enough viewers for ABC Family to sustain a second season. I’ll certainly be sad to see it go. I’ll end this entry with some choice quotes from The Middleman, well, just because.
The Middleman: Special Agent Watson, slacking off the dress code, I see.[[image:middlepics04.jpg:Interridroid 6000 (I think that’s the right number) and Ida:right:0]]
Wendy: Oh, I don’t do dress code after sundown.
The Middleman: It’s bad apples like you that put Mr. Hoover in a dress.
The Middleman: One: she still has a heartbeat, so there just may be a way to pull her back from her zombified state. And two, if we don’t find an antidote, her heart’s gonna explode like a sausage casing full of weasels.
The Middleman: But I’ve always been fascinated by the ability of preassembled sets of submasculine archetypes to tug at the heartstrings of a 12-to-17-year-old fanbase.
Wendy: Funny, I’ve always been fascinated by their ability to bring up my lunch.
The Middleman: Let this be a lesson to you. The next time we trap a rampaging pig-insect hybrid from another galaxy that accidentally gets loose in custody, you should shoot after it gets out of the car.
The Middleman: We’re agents Boetticher and Kennedy from American Shrimp and Crab Amalgamed Processors. Law enforcement branch.
The Middleman: We avoid using the acronym for copyright reasons.
Wendy: But, uh, whenever unexpected shrimp or crab appear in the context of a homicide, we’re not far behind.
Wendy: I was just in a room standing next to a perfectly normal flesh-and-blood coed who was talking to me, and next to her a spectral apparition that looked just like her!
The Middleman: Ghost of the living!
Wendy: Is that one of your snappy exclamations, or are you just defining what we’re up against?
The Middleman: A little of both, I suppose.
Guy: The Candle is out there. And I know right where he’s taken that Balthorium-G.
The Middleman: Snake Island.
Wendy: What is that, like near Dead Man’s Bluff?
Guy: Right below the Devil’s Throat. I’m glad to see you’ve done your homework.
Wendy: Seriously? I was just being snarky.
The Middleman: Nanobots are strong, but you’re smarter. It’s like what Sensei Ping says about weasels.
Wendy: They can easily hide in a tube sock?
Wendy: So did I ace it, or did I ace it?[[image:middlepics03.jpg:The Middlemobile:right:0]]
The Middleman: There’s acing it, and there’s what you did. Kind of like shooting a cow with a Howitzer.
Wendy: I would never shoot a cow.
The Middleman: I thought you solved your female problems.
Wendy: I don’t think female problems mean what you think it means but no.
The Middleman: What is this device?
Wendy: Uhh, it’s the thingy you point at things with.
The Middleman: This is the BTRS scanner.
Wendy: And BTRS stands for…?
The Middleman: Beyond the Realm of Science. As in, this machine scans for things that are…
Wendy: Beyond the Realm of Science? Wow. Handy.
The Middleman: I’m not gonna lie to you, Dubbie. The tailgate party’s about to begin and we have a 10′ manure hoagie on our hands.
Wendy: What’s with the salty language?
…which was soon followed by…
The Middleman: Voyager 2 is rocketing back home, and it’s coming in hotter than the devil’s wedding tackle.
Wendy: Whoa, that was filthy.
Can you tell I’m having fun picking out quotes?