Thursday, February 05, 2009

TV: Review- The Middleman

My TV-to-DVD buying habits started with Stargate: SG1. Having gotten lucky there, I was also smart enough to grab onto the sets of Keen Eddie and Firefly when those Fox-canceled shows hit the polymerized aluminum. They almost define the 'cult' classic TV show that lives on BECAUSE of the fact DVD sets were made. Firefly even revived long enough to give us a movie and three comic-book extensions.

The next cult classic will almost assuredly be The Middleman after the ABC Family network decided it and Kyle XY will not be coming back later this year or EVER! More about Kyle XY later this month, now finishing out it's third (and presumably last) season. This review is about The Middleman.

I've had lots to say about this quirky take on the super-hero motif before. I found the fast-paced pilot episode too rife with in-jokes. The rapid patter was like Moonlighting on 4x speed and, although faithful to the original comic book, I thought it too narrowly-aimed to catch broad interest. But I was pleasantly surprised when the insider stuff was trimmed down, the patter slowed up to more manageable levels, and charactes beyond The Middleman and sidekick Wendy Watson started to emerge as fully-realized and interesting characters.

Matt Keeslar played The Middleman with Dudley Do-Right straightness, leaving most of the great lines to Natalie Morales's Wendy. By the way, any woman hesitating about wearing glasses should get a gander at Morales in specs. Morales made wearing glasses a practical invitation to fall in love with her. And if your tastes don't run to sexy latinas, then I'm sure more than a few of you will latch onto Brit Morgan's Lacey Thornfield, Watson's attractive blonde roomie. Or, if you're of a certain age, I'm betting you'd really like to spend time with the saucy android Ida, played with malevolant glee by Mary Pat Gleason. Attractive, interesting and funny ladies were NOT a problem for this show.

Nope, the problem was the network. ABC Family still has to run a certain portion of religious programming due to deals made early in its existence. The Middleman, which would seem to more fit the CW profile than anything in the ABC corporate umbrella, just plain didn't fit. It ran on Monday, the same same EVERY network seems to run its keynote shows. So, it got lost. Part of its run was against Heroes. That's Programming for Idiots rule number 5. "To ensure cancellation, run show against the OTHER show available to its target audience."

So, we look forward to the summer release of the DVD set. Given my own lousy copy of the second show, I'm guaranteed to get the set when it goes on sale. I'm hoping creater Javier Grillo-Marxouch (of Lost fame) goes crazy with extras.

Give it a try and you won't be disappointed.


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