Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Middleman, "The Sino-Mexican Revelation": To the Dubby-mobile!

Brief, belated spoilers for "The Middleman" episode three coming up just as soon as I set my watch to Newfoundland Time...

I don't have time to either be watching this show or blogging about it -- I think I injured my shoulder toting home all the press tour-related DVDs I need to watch in the next few days -- but I think I'm falling in love with "Middleman" a little. In fact, I can't remember the last time a show went from completely off my radar (I basically popped in the screener after seeing an interview with the creator on Newsarama) to one I feel like I can't do without in such a short period of time. I honestly don't know if they can keep up this high-wire action/comedy act long term, but boy does it put a smile on my face right now.

Again, I have to get to other things, so a few quick observations. First, I love what they're doing with the chyrons, whether it's all the funky time signatures, the repeating of lengthy bits of dialogue to establish locales, or the flip-flopping of English and Spanish subtitles when Wendy was going up against the head Lucha Libre villain. Second, I like how the show manages to always be self-aware (say, the Wendy-as-Robin moment) without ever seeming smug about it. Third, I admire how the show is able to peddle the flesh of both Natalie Morales and Matt Keeslar on a regular basis without coming across as skeevy or pandering. (It's the gender-equal nature of it, I guess.) And, fourth, the episode climaxed with Mark Dacascos (star of TV's "The Crow") doing his best Bruce Lee impression while beating up an army of Lucha Libre wrestlers. How could you not dig every second of that?

What did everybody else think?

31 comments:

mjryan said...

I think I might have to give this show a chance.

pgillan said...

I like the show, but I find it a little too "ABC Family" for my tastes sometimes. I'll keep watching, though, seeing as there's not much else on, and Natalie Morales is very, very attractive (I'm shallow, I'll admit it). I thought the gag of having everyone in the show repeat the same descriptive phrase ("pirate-themed sports-bar with scantily clad women") over and over again was amusing, but got old long before they were finished with it.

Dani in NC said...

I agree with pgillan. I find myself thinking that The Middleman would be even more enjoyable if they weren't trying to keep it so family-friendly. Just a little edgier would be nice. However, the mom in me is glad to have another show that the whole family can enjoy.

dyb said...

I was impressed by last week's episode partly because every name was a Dune reference. Off the top of my head: Drs Kynes and Rabban, Duncan, Shaddam at House of Corrino, Frank Herbert High School. I was wondering if it was a nod to Matt Keeslar's role in the SciFi Channel miniseries. Sadly, Dune is the only sci-fi I'm familiar with, so I don't know if the first or third episodes were referencing other works (other than the Batman tv show, obviously).

Otherwise, though I too would like some edginess, I am completely won over the show's inherent sweetness and am bracing myself for a decline in quality or all-out cancellation. Sigh.

Eric said...

Love this show. Hits my wavelength exactly. Reminds me a lot of The Tick. Note: Marc Dascascos is also The Chairman's Nephew on Iron Chef America.

Eric said...

Oh, and J.R. Bob Dobbs International Airport? Damn, that's good referencing.

Nicole said...

The more I watch it, the more I like this show. It is very smart for a show obviously aimed at the G crowd and I can live without the edginess, if they keep up the wit.

R.A. Porter said...

I *love* this show, but it causes me agita. I've been recapping it for a friend's website and can't find a way to do anything but quote, quote, quote this show. The playfulness with language is almost on par with Pushing Daisies and that's high praise.

I just wish they could afford to hire a few more extras. Backgrounds of scenes look too sparsely populated.

dez said...

Oh, and J.R. Bob Dobbs International Airport? Damn, that's good referencing.

I rewound that scene just to make sure I read that right. This show is awesome!

Only problem with the ep: Keeping Mark Dacascos fully clothed and masked for too long. I understand why Sensei Ping was undercover and mysterious, but Mr. Dacascos is too fine to cover up so long :-)

dez said...

Oops, forgot to ask: What happened to Dubby's boyfriend?

Alanna said...

I think I'm falling in love with "Middleman".

After watching the ep Monday, I said the same thing verbatim. It's utterly delightful, and the cinematography is eye-candy in HD.

The chyrons are fun, though I think the show doesn't need quite so many per episode.

Unlike the other commenters, I was pleasantly surprised to see that it's more mature than I would've expected from ABC Family. Many of the jokes have smutty innuendo that would (fortunately) be lost on the younger set.

Anonymous said...

From Jan:

"First, I love what they're doing with the chyrons, whether it's all the funky time signatures, the repeating of lengthy bits of dialogue to establish locales, or the flip-flopping of English and Spanish subtitles when Wendy was going up against the head Lucha Libre villain. Second, I like how the show manages to always be self-aware . . . without ever seeming smug about it."

I couldn't agree more. I love this show, and it's now on my must-not-miss list. I think it's just fine the way it is, but I'd have to agree with dyb, who said, "I am completely won over the show's inherent sweetness and am bracing myself for a decline in quality or all-out cancellation." That's what happens to any show I really, really like it seems.

dyb said...

dez said...

Oops, forgot to ask: What happened to Dubby's boyfriend?

This is how I interpreted it: His two-day amnesia erased his memory of the meet-cute he had with Dubby. Thus she went from "cute girl I flirted with" to "random stranger who came to my hospital room and is really into me."

Dan said...

Dubby's boyfriend is not a likable character anyway, I didn't even miss him in episode 3.

I was thrilled to see Dacascos... and yet disappointed he wasn't kicking everyones butt from the start of the episode.

I was waiting for Dubby to make the remark of how lame her life is, when she is even the sidekick in her own fantasy.

They're re-releasing all 3 volumes of the comic book this month. I think it's a must pickup.
http://tinyurl.com/5533t7

Tracey said...

I hadn't realized how much I like this show until I had trouble watching it this week! Family Channel seems to have some sort of copy-protection that blocked my DVR from recording it. I finally found a postage-stamp sized copy on Family Channel's website, but it has no closed captioning and is very difficult to rewind to make sure that yes, they did say what I thought I heard! I have downloaded it through bittorrent and will be rewatching this one!

So far, it seems to get better with every episode! The first one was kind of meh, amusing but nothing I'd go out of my way to see. The second one I really liked, and this third one is even better.

I have to admit, I thought that guy was a little too perfect for Wendy! I kept expecting him to turn out to be a bad guy who was simply pretending to be her perfect man. But instead, he actually was her perfect man and wound up with "two day amnesia" at the end (which is actually kinda how amnesia really works ... what a refreshing change!)

Jefferson said...

yep, same sentiments here. falling in love with this show. But it has me worried that ABCF pushed it back two hours 'til 10/9pm. I wondered if it was going the burn-off route and I pray that it's not.

I laugh out loud each week so far. I think my favorite has to be when Wendy is coming back home to the loft and then has the obligatory references with Noser. This week - with the Johnny Cash references - had be in the proverbial stitches.

"It's the Folsom Prison Blues."

Tracey said...

Forgot to mention: I love the "Middlejet" bit. "We have a Middlejet?" And the fact that Wendy can fly the thing because she's a pilot's daughter. OK, I'll grant you that not every pilot's daughter can fly, but at least they made the effort to explain how an art student knows how to fly a jet!

Also love the "O2STK" gag.

R.A. Porter said...

@jefferson, if 10pm is ABCF's idea of burning off a show, they're rank amateurs. They need to call up the execs over at SciFi for lessons on how to do it *right*.

Tuesday morning at 2am. Now *that's* how you burn off a show.

I suspect a combination of factors played into the rescheduling: a look at the demographic breakdown of the viewers, and a late realization that there's some sexual innuendo and actual death of bad guys. Considering Sensei Ping killed 100 Luchadores this week, I'm just happy they aired it at all.

This ain't GI Joe, where everyone parachutes out of their helicopters as the missiles hit.

barefootjim said...

I may not be in love with this show, but I have a huge, gushing crush on it.

The only time I laugh so consistently is with 30 Rock or HIMYM.

I also think that it's OK that it's family friendly, because tonally, there's a lot of mid-60s silly but cool ("Middleman!!") in the DNA of the show, and I think that too edgy would ruin it.

I also enjoyed trying (and miserably failing) to explain to wife who J.R. "Bob" Dobbs was, and why I nearly fell off the couch when I saw that.

Mrglass said...

So basically this show is like Chuck? Better?

Eric said...

It's sort of like Chuck if Casey was the star. And they lived in a much crazier world.

It's more like The Tick if The Tick weren't stupid and Arthur weren't a coward.

Oh, and I think the person wondering about the boyfriend disappearing was wondering about the boyfriend from the first episode- the one whom everyone thought was gay, but he's just in film school. He seems to have moved in with Chuck Cunningham.

dez said...

^Yeah, I meant her boyfriend from the pilot. I know what happened to the guy in the recent ep :-)

I guess Ben (or whatever the boyfriend's name was) is either with Chuck or maybe up in the Martin attic.

BTW, The Tick is not stupid, he's just...Tickish :-D

Rich C said...

Sooo.... why was J.R "Bob" Dobbs funny? I hate missing out!

"Sweetly slutty" What a wonderful philosophy!

Eric said...

rich c: I'm not sure I can convey the full impact - it's a meme that goes back at least 25-30 years and really grew and prospered in the pre-Internet days.

You can start here.

Rich C said...

Thanks Eric. That is a lot of depth packed into one little throw-away line. I really am enjoying this show.

BigTed said...

I like this show, but I have to say that the weakest link is Natalie Morales. Her timing on the fast-paced lines simply isn't very good, which undercuts the humor. And she doesn't come across as an artsy alterna-chick so much as a TV exec's version of one: i.e., a model with glasses.

cgeye said...

Awww..... and they aired it on X-DAY Week, too.

*snif*

Praise Bob!!

The Xists' ships oughta to be landing at Brushwood by now... if not, then next year with the sex goddesses!

Tracey said...

@R.A.: Seriously, what did Charlie Jade do to deserve that? It was, I will grant you, very hard to follow (not unusual with SF), but it was just starting to get interesting when they bounced it out of the sweet spot before Doctor Who and into the Dead Zone!

R.A. Porter said...

@tracey, I was going to link to my screed on SciFi, but I see you've already found it!

Polter-Cow said...

The joke in the time chyron is probably one of the funniest running gags I've ever seen. It was the gift that kept on giving! And then the reverse subtitles cracked me up.

I found the first couple episodes uneven, but this third one really hit the spot.

Oh, and I'm definitely picking up the complete collection of the comic when it comes out!

Tracey said...

@RA: hee hee. Yes, though I didn't realize it was you until I got to the end of the article! After seeing your comment here, I went looking to see if anybody else talked about Charlie Jade and found your article!