The Telefile

Middleman: Better Than Middling

by Zach Oat June 18, 2008 5:02 pm
<I>Middleman</I>: Better Than Middling

I am highly skeptical of anything on ABC Family. While I have never actually watched an episode of Wildfire, something tells me I would not like it, because I am not a 13-year-old girl. Granted, there are a few syndicated shows there that I will admit to having watched in the past, but my point is that ABC Family shows are cute and family-friendly and more or less harmless. (Although as a parent I would look askance at certain episodes of Smallville.) So why the hell do I like The Middleman so much?

1. It's hysterical. The show is written and produced by Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who wrote for Charmed and Law & Order: SVU before becoming a writer and producer of the first two seasons of Lost. The pilot -- which revolves around a super-smart ape who wants to take over the city's crime syndicates -- is full of enough comic-book references and absurd humor to make any fan of The Tick live-action TV show reasonably happy. (We'll never be truly happy. Ever again.) Stay through the credits to see a gorilla doing tai chi.

2. The cast is awesome. Matt Keeslar (Waiting for Guffman, Art School Confidential) is the perfect combination of vapid good looks and smug superiority as the Middleman, but manages to pull it off in such a way that he's still likeable. His new apprentice, Wendy, is played by relative newcomer Natalie Morales, who brings to mind a younger, more sarcastic Rosario Dawson. If you're into that sort of thing.

3. It's based on a pretty damn good comic book. Published by Viper Comics, The Middleman comic (also written by Grillo-Marxuach) was actually incredibly funny, and the elements that are brought over work well. (When they curse during one scene, black bars that would normally cover their words cover their mouths.) And the pilot is peppered with references to things from the comic books that will play into episodes down the road. For instance, in a throwaway line, Wendy is scheduled for a training session with Sensei Ping, who in the comic book is a martial arts instructor who wears a luchador mask. I can not wait to see that episode.

Watch the show Mondays at 8:00 on ABC Family, then talk about it in our forums!




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