Spoilers for "The Middleman" coming up just as soon as I enjoy a lobster dinner...
When you do a show as strange and eclectic as "The Middleman," there are going to be episodes where some elements work and others don't. With "The Cursed Tuba Contingency," I really enjoyed the chaste courtship of Middleman and Lacey, which seemed styled less after a Randolph Scott picture (especially a latter-career one like "Ride Lonesome") than to a movie from the '30s, or even the silent movie era. I remain impressed by how Matt Keeslar is able to play this impossibly straight, retro, decent guy without a trace of irony and make him as appealing as he is.
The comedy portions of the episode, on the other hand, didn't quite work. Some jokes felt rushed, like Wendy's cries for help constantly being interrupted by the foghorn, or Wendy dispatching the bad guy before the final commercial break. Others just didn't seem well-conceived, like the villainous Titanic obsessive (played by Jim Piddock from the Christopher Guest movies).
One thing I raised an eyebrow at: there were some complaints in the early episodes that, because the show was on ABC Family, the stories had to be a little too chaste, but there was an extended gag involving Middleman and Dubby listening to one of the thieves have sex. Do you think that joke would have been allowed when the show was still on at 8, or is this yet another sign that ABC Family doesn't care anymore because the show isn't part of their future plans?
(Speaking of which, TV Squad has an account of the show's Comic-Con appearance. Tell your friends to watch, boys and girls!)
Overall, not one of the show's best efforts, but still fun. What did everybody else think?