Category Archives: The Middleman

Season Finale: The Middleman – “The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome”

“The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome”

September 1st, 2008

For a show that is extremely close to cancellation, The Middleman sure didn’t use its first season finale as some type of course correction designed to sell the network on how it can change itself to appeal more to ABC Family’s core audience.

Instead, the season’s 12th episode offered more of what we expect from the series: an intelligent and well-executed episode which played with popular culture conventions and demonstrated just why this series needs to stick around for more time. Playing with a mirror universe on this type of scale should have felt like too much to handle in a single episode, but the episode played to the strength of our emotional relationship with the characters and broader questions of good and evil that the show should be allowed to resolve with time.

And while the episode was a satisfying end to the show’s first season, there is no question that abandoning these characters at this point in time is the type of decision that could earn ABC Family a black mark from critics – a renewal, meanwhile, could prove that ABC Family would be an evil mastermind in the parallel world and a shining beacon of television hope in our own.

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Screw the Stigmas: Why The Middleman is Worth Saving

Why The Middleman is Worth Saving

In the world of television, it’s not a question of judging a book by its cover; rather, it’s about judging a show by its network.

For How I Met Your Mother, the “CBS is for lame people” stigma amongst some younger viewers keeps them from giving the show a decent shot, and in the process a show that should have been a big success from the beginning took three seasons and stuntcasting to guarantee itself a fourth. The show should have been 30 Rock before there was 30 Rock, and yet still quite a few people who would love this show are staying away.

And this summer, another example has popped up which is even more apparent. When The Middleman debuted back in June, I called it “a science fiction comedy with plenty to enjoy.” Since that point, I’ve grown to love the show, even those elements that I wasn’t so keen on in the pilot. The show has gone to great strides to build great characters and craft strong stories which serve their purpose, all with an added dose of pop culture humour to add to the show’s general charm.

But, a lot of people haven’t seen that. When someone posted about the show’s debut on a popular message board, these are amongst the first responses:

“You piqued my interest until I heard ABC Family.”

“No wonder I couldn’t find the show anywhere last night. ABC Family huh? Probably pass.”

And therein lies The Middleman’s problem: it’s not that ABC Family is a bad network, as Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Formerly an executive producer on Lost) has nothing but good things to say about the show’s treatment on the network side of the equation. Rather, they are a network with absolutely zero cache with the genre audience that the show is appealing towards. In fact, I’d say that they have negative interest: these people are not just unlikely to watch a show on ABC Family, but they are likely to actively avoid such a show thanks to its network affiliation. This means that any attempt to increase the show’s audience, which is miniscule if stable thanks to such issues, is going to take a whole lot of convincing to an audience that has never given the network a fair chance.

But that doesn’t mean that people aren’t trying, and it certainly doesn’t mean that anyone reading this who has yet to sample The Middleman shouldn’t immediately do so by searching through their on-screen guide, unblocking ABC Family, and opening your mind to a new kind of summer show – or, even better, buy it on iTunes, so you can bypass the stigma altogether.

Because this is a show that needs, and deserves, the viewers.

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Series Premiere: The Middleman – “Pilot”


June 16th, 2008

ABC Family caught my attention with Greek, but the network has been making its own move in the cable television arena over the past few years. The network has had success with shows like Greek, Wilfire or the upcoming The Secret Life of the American Teenager, shows that most easily fit into their teen girl demographics, but they’ve also made a few leaps into genre television. It is in the spirit of Kyle XY, then, that they bring us The Middleman, a science fiction comedy with plenty to enjoy.

Of course, there’s a lot of pedigree behind this project; the series is based on a comic book by Javier Grillo Marxauch, best known to this TV writer as an Executive Producer during Lost’s first season. Here, he’s writing comfortably in a genre that seems to work for him, and one that feels simultaneously fresh and familiar. Yes, it delights in a certain amount of cheese, and its quippy dialogue feels like the director realized that Gilmore Girls and Juno were both big with the kids, but as someone who enjoys both of those things I was thoroughly entertained.

While there’s no telling whether the pilot’s quirks, from its dialogue to its use of roundabout redundancies and on-screen irony, will remain in the episodes that remain, but when you combine a winning premise, an enjoyable cast and a summer where the rest of my TV schedule is catching up on series much more dark and depressing, Chloe from 24 genetically engineering Apes to take over the mafia and being thwarted by a superhero and his art school graduate sidekick is more than enough to keep me watching.

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