Monday, June 16, 2008

Previewing The Middleman

The cast of The MiddlemanFrom the promo, it is hard to tell if The Middleman would end up thoroughly enjoyable or just head scratchingly bad. The acting is not in contention for ant awards and the production value looks like, well, the production value for an ABC Family show. But the lead character seems watchable. And it certainly helps that she looks like Rosario Dawson and Brittany Murphy were somehow able to create a child together and was raised a nerd.

The premise is simple, unbeknown to anyone; comic book supervillains are real and are maniacally trying to take over the world with harebrain plots. That is where The Middleman comes in; he foils the plots all the while keeping the mindless public from realizing the true danger that is out there. Yeah it sounds like Men in Black but no one has had their mind erased (yet). Keeping with the Men in Black theme, The Middleman recruits and new partner to help him in his dogoodary.

Matt Keesler as The MiddlemanThat is where are snarky heroine comes in, and really aren’t all the female protagonists since Buffy Summers snarky, who joins up because she has become so jaded with life she isn’t even fazed when she gets attacked by a science experiment gone (the CGI of which looked to take up about 95% of the episode’s budget). And in true comic book fashion, she even comes with alliteration, Wendy Watson. And she has good reason to be jaded, she stuck temping while dreaming of being an artist, her boyfriend is an ambiguously gay douche, her roommate is a activist looking for a cause, and of course her mother is nagging her about it all.

The highlight though is the afro-ed, guitar playing hippie who hangs in the hall of Wendy’s apartment spouting inane comments and obscure pop references. Seriously, it is hard not to down with a character whose first words onscreen are quoting Shaft. Rounding out the cast is The Middleman’s cranky secretary who really is not that fond of Wendy.

Natalie Morales as Wendy WatsonThe first episode deals with a bunch of mobsters being killed off by, well, I don’t want to spoil it for you because, one, it is a hilarious concept (a good sign for the rest of the series), and two, I’m not sure you would believe me without seeing it for yourself. But I will say, the case involves the chick from 24. The show is chalk full with great one-liners and absurd monologues (it is a real life comic book). Aside from the low production value, being a comic book brought to life, it could have been more stylized, there really isn’t much downside. The sub par acting just builds into the campy feel to the show. Granted being from a writer of Lost there are some holes in the back-story like who sends The Middleman his weapons and dispenses him on his jobs. Hopefully we get these answers quicker than his last writing job.

The Middleman premieres tonight at 8:00 on ABC Family and repeats at 9:00 and midnight. For those that do not want to wait for tonight or want to watch it on the go (or just missed it), you can download the first episode of The Middleman for free on iTunes.

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