Now it might seem premature to label a show your favorite when you’ve only seen two episodes but the ABC family original The Middleman is some really good TV. It’s superhero TV at it’s best, it harkens back to the Batman TV show with its visuals and bad special effects at times but the dialog is hip, fresh and funny the side characters are entertaining and there’s a lot of mystery but it doesn’t feel incomplete the way Lost always felt to me.
I stayed away from the show originally because #1 it was on ABC Family which automatically makes me go *smh* because I’m unsure if ABC’s idea of family programming has ever entertained me and #2 all the ads made it seem as if the female lead Wendy Watson (played by Natalie Morales) was going to be a scantily clad sidekick there to look hot in leather and shoot big guns and not really the focus of the show.
Then a couple days ago while idly surfing Netflix’s Watch Instantly feature I saw that the first two episodes were available so I decided to give them a try. Boy was I wrong, it’s fantastic romp through a crazy world of mad scientists, demons and aliens. Also Wendy is far from an extra body she’s actually the lead protagonist and it’s great to have a Latina actress playing a superhero (well apprentice/successor but still).
The shows’ basic premise is that a sarcastic, rude, unflappable young woman right out of art school is recruited as the apprentice to The Middleman, a former Navy Seal who could have been plucked from some random 50’s health film (he’s constantly saying things like “Golly Gee”, “Jeepers” and “Now that’s just mean/rude”). Wendy proceeds to ride The Middleman for his language and also has an antagonistic relationship with their extraterrestrial robot Ida, often calling her “3PO” (After Star Wars robot C3PO). The back and forth between The Middleman and Wendy has some clunkers sure but for the most part it’s funny, hip and very comic book. For example the constant references to her father that disappeared under mysterious circumstances are so ham-handed at times that any comic book reader (or anyone with ears really) will know that this is something that will pop up in the show relatively soon.
The side characters are also pretty damn funny. Lacey, Wendy’s Roommate, who’s a confrontational conceptual artist and very much the pseudo-liberal who gets arrested pretty damn often for protesting. Nozer, the African-American guitar player that Wendy exchanges song lyrics with in the hallway every time she comes home. Ida, the ET Robot who’s “been cranky since her appearance circuit got stuck on disapproving school marm version 2.0” and continually insinuates that Wendy’s only cool under pressure ’cause she’s always high.
And yes I admit that the special effects tend to be kind of low-budget but really the episode villains are not the reason to watch, even though their fun in a really ludicrous way. It’s the journey to find the villain that packs the most hilarity with revelations of Succubi, Incubi, illegal experiments and extra-marital affairs all making appearances.
Funny, Hip, Inspired and Corny by turns it’s been quite a while since a show grabbed me in so few episodes. Let’s hope that #1 they don’t mess it up and #2 that it stays on the air long enough to find its footing and really wow us.
To say anymore would be spoiling but if you have Netflix then take a couple of hours to watch the episodes on there, or find some other way because no matter what you have to at least check out, if only to let me know if you agree with my over-enthusiastic response.