It occurs to me that as of yet, I have failed to address the source of the title of my blog (and it’s url). I will now attempt to fix that.
Once upon a time, there was a wonderful comic book series called “The Middleman” and it played on tropes and cliches found in other popular comic books. Then, one day, the author, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, had the awesome idea to turn it into a TV show, thus ABC Family’s “The Middleman” was born.
Now, this was no ordinary TV show; it was very fast-paced, chock full of ever-so-slightly esoteric references, with tons of witty banter and it never took itself seriously. It was fantastic, creative, hilarious and always engaging. Not surprisingly, the show was nearly immediately canned. Regardless, us viewers can still enjoy the 12 episodes, the 13th episode in comic book form (and supposedly a table reading) and the original comic book series.
Here is a promotional image from the show:
Here is a more accurate depiction of the show:
So, clearly the show is all sorts of zany and wacky, but what makes it unique? What makes it stand out as a good story, and not just some goofball comedy?
By the time the show ended we had only begun to see the long-term story arc and (what may have been) the Big Bad. As a result, the individual episodes were, in many ways, very standalone. So, as awesome as the long-term story line could have been, that wasn’t what drew me in. What it ultimately came down to was the characters.
It is evident fairly early on in the show that the writers could have taken the easy way out and used cartoonish 2-dimensional characters, a technique used in many, many TV comedies. Instead, they chose to have genuine characters (though they are still goofy) who are simply clever and level-headed enough to match the pace of the humor in the show. This allowed for more complex and less cliched relationships between characters. For example, the show features: a very close, yet very platonic relationship between a man and a woman, a non-catty, non-passive-aggressive, loving, sisterly relationship between two women, and an actual healthy and supportive romantic relationship between a man and a woman. If you think about it, TV shows today don’t have nearly enough of any of these.
Lastly, the show has utterly fantastic one-liners. Phrases like “I’m as serious as a heart attack” are way too dull for this show. instead they kick it up a notch and give you “I’m as serious as a hefty bag full of Rottweilers.” Really, what’s not to love?
Without wanting to give anything more away, I recommend watching the show and reading reviews because, I promise you, some of the references will breeze right past you. They come at a mile a minute and sometimes it feels like even their references have references.
Oh, and because no self-respecting sci-fi/fantasy series goes without it: Mark Sheppard as Manservant Neville (that’s Manservant, not Manservant, for your information).
Another really cool post describing the show! I like to reblog these here so maybe we can all spread the Middle-love to friends who haven’t seen or heard of the show yet.