Friday, August 28, 2009

Crazy Cancellations: The Middleman

Now out on DVD, The Middleman debuted last summer on ABC Family. A brilliant show on a network no one watches, except to see that terrible show about a pregnant teenage slut. (Really, how long was she pregnant? Did she ever have that demon spawn?) Supposedly no other network would bite, so ABC Family did. I'm glad I got the chance to even see a season (cut short an episode due to lack of funds) of this brilliant show. Before it was given a chance on the silver screen, it was a comic, and before it was a comic, it was a dead script waiting for a chance to shine.

The Middleman takes care of "exotic problems": in other words, aliens and weird murders and whatnot that happen, essentially everything in comic books. Javier Grillo-marxuach and Les Mcclaine's comic that spawned the reality of the TV show was brilliantly simple in its black and white visual art, as opposed to the sharp color contrasts in the show. Its writing, in which the first two books are copied directly to screen, on screen and in text is witty, sharp, noirish writing blanketed in nerd pop culture references. The acting is superb, and I can't see anyone else playing any character. It's perfectly cast. From Wendy Watson's (Natalie Morales) smart-ass remarks, foul tongue, and zombie-loving adorableness as Middleman-in-training to the Middleman's (Matt Keeslar) immaculate tongue, milk drinking, and love of country music, The Middleman's characters are all quirky and lovable, even the grouchy and snappy robot intelligence Ida (who dresses like she walked out of a stained glass factory). Every episode has a villain that says his/her plan is "sheer elegance in its simplicity" before being thwarted by the Middlemen, and each episode has the Wilhelm scream at some point.

Guest stars include: Herculean Kevin Sorbo, Mary Lynn Rajskub; Brendan Hines; Elaine Hendrix; Eden Sher; Jim Piddock; Ashley Johnson; Mark Sheppard; and Kevin Sussman.

The Middleman is clever and fun to watch. It's out on DVD right now (hard to find in stores), and the comic can be collected in its three separate books or as The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability. Also limited in release is the "thirteenth episode" in graphic novel form in The Middleman: The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse. It should be a satisfying ending to a brilliant, short-lived show. You guys, buy it all so we can get more out of it!

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