That's right, I'm calling you out, my straw-men blog readers or stumblers that hasn't yet become addicted to fine televisual program named The Middleman. You need to watch The Middleman, your very future may be at stake, and you particularly need to watch The Middleman if you are one of those gifted with the mutant power that marks you as a member of the illustrious "Nielsen family". Some of you know that I'm much more of a hype follower than a hype evangelist, so hopefully you may take me on my word at this.
That's right, though, I can hear your skepticism: why should you watch The Middleman and what does your future have to do with it? Do you become assholes in the future?... No, no, no, it's your kids. Somethings got to be done about your kids! No wait, that's Back to the Future: Part 2, let's focus on you not becoming assholes in the future, forever wondering why the show you love so much on DVD wasn't watched when it actually aired...
I was skeptical at first. Unlike some of you I have no ignorance to blame for not watching the first few episodes when they aired... My sister tunes to the ABC Family station for mindless sitcom reruns and I actually saw promos for The Middleman. However, I was a dolt, I never questioned why the B-Superhero "Saturday Morning" show was inexplicably placed at a 10 PM time slot. I missed out on some of the humor and snarkiness in the promos the first few times I saw them. It was only through the incessant chatter on io9 about the show that I managed to actually sit down and watch it.
It had me enraptured at it's first fish joke.  I had picked a good episode to start with, an episode about zombies with fish cravings. I shall refrain from recounting the entire episode as every time I try that people just stare at me in confusion. It's hard to explain the show's humor without placing you directly in front of a set and forcing you to watch an episode, at least in my experience. The show has equal parts camp lunacy, snark, ironic post-modern commentary, sarcasm, real character relationships and development, and wonderful snarkasm. It's plots reference movies, television, comics, video games, and just about all other parts of modern culture, but then the writers name check those same references, drawing it past "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" to a domain of playful examination and homage. It's perhaps the closest thing to a live action Venture Brothers, albeit in a separate but related area of culture, as can be done on television budgets.
It's genre is clearly "monster of the week", in some of the best senses of the style and with a modern post-Buffy view of character development, lounging across superhero, sci-fi, and spy genres. It has some of the best parts of Men In Black with the investigative fun of X-Files and it doesn't care as it throws in a little James Bond. Last night's Kevin Sorbo cameo episode name checked so much crazy '60s spy stuff, and made some of us curious for a The Middleman: 1963 period show focused on Sorbo's character's prime. It even had some video game loving, although I preferred the wonderfully manic, over-the-top card game (referencing so many great gambling scenes from various spy films) Shaboomie. But that's all overt stuff, some of the show shines in its covert "throw away references", things that will make the show shine even more on DVD with commentary... Tracing the CV of a college nerdette doing mad science with ghosts among other awards and honors was mention of a "Egon Spengler Award for Physics". That was certainly not the only Ghostbusters reference in the episode, but certainly the one I awarded "most often" and left me wondering how I might have won the Egon Spengler Award in high school...
But here's the clincher, for me, of the show's awesomeness, a sign of it's post-modern ironic as science and funny: "[My plan is...] Sheer elegance in it's simplicity." That's the catch-phrase of the show's villains, the monsters of the week, uttered at least once an episode, usually after the villain confesses to some dastardly and elaborate plot. I just love the "shared villain catchphrase" thing, I find it funnier every time, and I think I want a shirt with that phrase on it now. (The catchphrase played an integral part of last night's Sorbo-fest, incidentally.)
You should at least try the next episode Monday at 10. Yes, I know that conflicts with Weeds, so Tivo Weeds for a week and try The Middleman. (Or pay for a few back episodes on iTunes or XBLM.) I will not be afraid to tell you "I told you so" when you return my DVD set back to me in tears because the show is so funny and because you can't believe you missed it when it first aired... One of the differences from the average "short run" of a show is that rather than show the good episodes first and hope to push ratings, the show is actually showing in the correct order and each episode is incrementally better than the last, as it should be. Watch it.
|||I'm not entirely certain why I like fish jokes so much. I think it may have something to do with my love of Douglas Adams. Regardless, you can find many ridiculous fish-jokes, names, and puns in my stories if you don't believe me.|