Monday, June 16, 2008

Sepinwall on TV: 'Middleman' review

In the second of today's columns (sort of; see below), I briefly review "The Middleman," ABC Family's swingin' new comic book adaptation. I never read the comic, but I dug the show enough to stick around to see if they can sustain what looks to be a very tricky tone. (I should also mention that the pilot's available as a free iTunes download, if you don't want to wait for tonight.)

And given the show's retro vibe, it finally gives me an excuse to link to YouTube clips of the opening credits for a lot of the Marvel Comics cartoon adaptations of the '60s: Spider-Man, Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty Thor, The Fantastic Four, and the whole shebang. Most of them are quite heinous -- notable exception: the Spider-Man theme, which is so awesome The Ramones covered it -- but as a pop culture historian type/geek, I can never get enough of this stuff.

14 comments:

Namor said...

Hey Alan, why did you omit the Sub-Mariner theme? It's got that Speedo-rific show-tune flair.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Hey Alan, why did you omit the Sub-Mariner theme?

Because, to be honest, I had forgotten it existed. I'm sure it was part of the rotation when WPIX would rerun the others in the late '70s/early '80s, but the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor and Cap themes all stuck in my head much better.

To rectify: the Sub-Mariner theme.

That First Andrew said...

Alan,

Will we see any comments on The Incredible Hulk? You are sort of my go-to comics nerd (term of endearment, I swear) for these.

Did you catch silent cameos from Martin "Bill Haverchuk" Starr and Michael K. "Omar" Williams? Neither one was of any consequence, but it made me smile to see them pop up.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Didn't see it. Not sure I'm going to see it in the theaters. Once you become a dad, you have to pick your spots in terms of movie-going, and I don't think I care enough about the idea of two CGI blobs fighting each other to want to make that one of my summer selections.

Pamela Jaye said...

just about to read this post, but wanted to mention the Best of Mad Men special that amc is running (a couple more times, I hope)

It's cast interviews with clips from season 1. (sorry if you already mentioned this. I'm behind on reading. got caught reading old posts on How I Met Your Mother last week and decided I wanted to do the same with House (season 4) - see if I can make it a little more coherent or cohesive or whatever. (the strike screwed me up. then again, the strike might have *fixed * Grey's, so I shouldn't gripe too much.)

Jessica said...

Seems like it'd be awfully cheesy, this show. Maybe I should give it a shot. But the 18 commercials per hour with obnoxious voice over they played during the Greek marathon were enough to fill me with a ton of ill will towards the show.

Matthew L said...

"If there's one thing I hate more than scientists trying to take over the world, it's scientists who twist innocent primates with computer-enhanced mind control to live out their sick and perverted fantasies of criminal power."

You know, I don't really care whether they actually manage to pull off that dialogue - I'm interested in any show that would even attempt a line like that. This sounds like an interesting show that I knew nothing about. I'll keep an eye out for it.

Rachel said...

Oh man -- that was like Gilmore Girls on steroids! It was definitely a lot to take in, but I was definitely entertained. I think the two leads will only improve their line readings (the way Alexis Bledel improved early on).

So for now, I'm coming back next week to see where this ride goes.

Figgsrock2 said...

Wow, I actually laughed out loud mutiple times tonight. I never would have known about it without your review Alan, so thanks. I'm definitely giving it a second look next week.

Devin McCullen said...

You know when I knew they had me? When they ran the "opening credits" sequence, and he came up with the umbrella, and she came up with the mask and snorkel. But you're right that it might be tricky to maintain the tone. Here's hoping!

electricia said...

Alan,

Who was the actress playing the evil Dr. Gibbs? I thought for a moment it was Jenna Fischer, but probably not. I've never watched "The Office" (being fanatically devoted to the original and certain that it could never be improved upon). Anyway, I can't find her on IMDB, and I can picture her in other things, I just can't figure out what those other things are. I'm sure I'll kick myself when I find out who she is. Maybe an SNLer, or someone who shows up in Will Ferrel movies?

Pete said...

electricia: Dr. Gibbs was played by Mary Lynn Rajskub. She was in 24, Little Miss Sunshine, and, of course, Mr. Show with Bob and David.

dez said...

I thought it was very entertaining and worth checking out again next week. And I thought they did pretty well with that primate line :-)

Matthew L said...

Managed to watch it tonight, and I really liked it. It was just a genuinely entertaining, laugh-out-loud funny show, with a lot of charm. And the cheapness of the show contributed to it - it was like they knew they didn't have the effects to realisticly achieve what was being written (which would be difficult for pretty mucb any show whatever the budget), so they just embraced the unconvincing effects.

Regarding "the line": I actually thought the Middleman actor got the line reading pretty much right. The second reading of the line by Wendy didn't work so well, but then that was fine because she was quoting his line back at him, and it wasn't supposed to be as natural for her. In any case, not only did they write a line like that, they used it twice. That just made me like the show even more.

I also quite enjoyed the locatgion captions, which were very funny. (My favourite was the one that identified the Italian restaurant, even though we can read the marquee, and the only difference was an English spelling of the word "restaurant".

When they ran the "opening credits" sequence, and he came up with the umbrella, and she came up with the mask and snorkel.

I thought that scene was interesting, if only because, even before that shot (which was hilarious), I was already thinking that sequence felt like The Avengers, and the umbrella just cemented that.