The Middleman (TV series)

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The Middleman
Genre Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi, Dramedy
Created by Javier Grillo-Marxuach
Les McClaine
Developed by Javier Grillo-Marxuach
Starring Matt Keeslar
Natalie Morales
Mary Pat Gleason
Brit Morgan
Jake Smollett
Theme music composer Tree Adams
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 12 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Javier Grillo-Marxuach
John Ziffren
Producer(s) Shane Keller
Sarah Watson
Ron McLeod
Production company(s) ABC Family Original Productions
Distributor Disney–ABC Domestic Television
Original channel ABC Family
Original release June 16, 2008 – September 1, 2008

The Middleman is an American television series. The series, which was developed for television by Javier Grillo-Marxuach for ABC Family, is based on the Viper Comics series, The Middleman, created by Grillo-Marxuach and Les McClaine. The series ran for one season in 2008.

Originally confirmed for an initial 13 episodes, the order was reduced to a 12-episode season due to low ratings. In February 2009, a comic book based on the unproduced 13th episode was announced, confirming the series' cancellation.[1] Billed as a "series finale", The Middleman – The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse was released in July 2009. The complete series DVD set was released by Shout! Factory on July 28, 2009.[2]


Wendy Watson, a struggling artist, is recruited by a secret agency to fight against evil forces.[3] The pilot episode features a super-intelligent ape who escapes captivity, murders several members of the Italian Mafia, spouts a half dozen catch phrases from American movies on the subject including Scarface, Goodfellas and The Godfather, before being revealed as the pawn of the true villain.

The Middleman is a freelance fixer of "exotic problems", which include mad scientists bent on taking over the world, hostile aliens and various supernatural threats. Because of Wendy Watson's coolness under pressure and photographic memory, Ida, a robot in the form of a grumpy schoolmarm, and the Middleman recruit her to become the next Middleman. The series includes various pop-culture references, including many comic books, such as when Wendy calls herself "Robin the Boy Hostage", a quote from The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller, demonstrating how Robin was often kidnapped or held at gunpoint by Batman's enemies.

Wendy lives in an illegal sublet apartment with her young, photogenic, animal activist friend Lacey, across the hall from lyric-spouting Noser, and had a boyfriend in film school named Ben.

Cast and characters[edit]


References to pop culture[edit]

  • Every episode used the Wilhelm scream in some way.
  • In most of the later episodes, the phrase "My plan is sheer elegance in its simplicity" is spoken by the villain whenever the (usually quite complicated and inelegant) details of their plans are revealed, a reference to spy fiction.
  • The screenwriters often choose for each episode an overall theme or reference to a particular work of pop culture. For example, in episode two, many names were taken from Frank Herbert's Dune, and in episode four, the names were taken from the Back to the Future series. The fifth episode, which was about zombies, contained numerous references to the band The Zombies. The eleventh episode, which involved an alien threat, contained many references to classic Doctor Who characters, and a "Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster", a drink from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is mentioned. In "The Ectoplasmic Panhellenic Investigation", many references were made to Ghostbusters. In "The Clotharian Contamination Protocol" a theme used very frequently were paraphrased or directly taken dialogue fragments from the Die Hard movies. Also, the Clotharian message sent to Earth was written in Aurebesh, the Star Wars alphabet, specifically the one created by Boba Fonts – as revealed by the number system unique to the font. Additionally, in "The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome", references are made to the John Carpenter film Escape From New York, such as The Middleman and Wendy taking the undercover names of "Van Cleef" and "Russel" respectively. Also, the alternate Middleman is a tribute to and parody of Snake Plissken, the aforementioned film's protagonist. In the same episode, numerous references are made to the classic Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror", specifically the Mirror Fatboy Industries logo and the fact that every man in the alternate universe scene is sporting a beard, in honor of Spock's mirror counterpart in the Star Trek episode.
  • Further references to in-jokes in the various episodes can be taken from the creator of the series himself in the Middleblog.

Critical reception[edit]

  • The A.V. Club gave the entire series a A-.[4]
  • Daily Variety wrote that "this series could potentially work on any number of networks, and it's almost too smart for the room at ABC Family; nevertheless, this sprightly summer arrival should fit nicely into the evolving niche the channel established with Kyle XY."[5]
  • TV Guide had it as its "Mega Rave" for the week of June 15, 2008, and wrote that "It's loaded with clever banter – like Men in Black if Will Smith's character was a geeky girl."[6]
  • UGO gave it an A- overall and an A for story, calling it "fun to watch."[7]
  • The Boston Herald gave it a B- and wrote that "all that's missing are some onscreen blurbs like 'BAM!' and 'POW!'"[8]
  • Newsarama wrote that "stylistically, the current show this most resembles is Pushing Daisies, with its colorful sets and rapid-fire screwball dialogue" and that "it's about goofy ideas and having a good time, the kind of show you'll want to watch repeatedly to catch a line you missed the first time."[9]


External links[edit]