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July 26, 2008 2:55 PM   Subscribe

Javier Grillo-Marxuach's PoMo spy-fi tv show, "The Middleman" (based on his eponymous comic book series) is in trouble -- ABC Family launched the show in late June with little fanfare in the 8 p.m. timeslot. After a strong start, ABC Family grew a little anxious about the show's PG-13 content and moved the show to 10 p.m. killing their under-18 audience share, if ever there was one.

Now, going into their 6th week, they're giviing the show some props at Comic-Con, but is it too late? ABC Famiily has already announced that they're not paying for Marxuach to write or produce the 13th episode in the 13-episode deal that they agreed to.

Is America not ready for Post-Modern and ironic superheroes? And if so, what the hell is this show doing on the network that Jim and Tammy-Faye Bakker founded?

(Big-batch YouTube-linkage because I don't know how to make those funky YT links.)
posted by vhsiv (34 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If his comic book series was eponymous it would have been titled Javier Grillo-Marxuach.
posted by euphorb at 3:02 PM on July 26, 2008

his ≠ the

I tried. Kill me.
posted by vhsiv at 3:08 PM on July 26, 2008

I had heard good things about this show from a blog that I hit every so often. I came home that day, and somehow the subject came up, and my 12 year old daughter filled me in on the details. We decided to watch the show as soon as we could, and I got a gander for the first time the other day - only saw half the show, and my wife and other kids were left wondering what was going on. I liked what I saw.

PG-13 is a good way to put it. It's a darn good show, quirky in the extreme (if that's possible). Like Blake Holsey High School on steroids. It's shot with the weird numbing after school special cinematography, and the dialog is a fast paced mind bending trip reminiscent of Ghost Busters, but weirder and more cerebral.

Really. Its a funky show. Like a family-geek version of Strangers with Candy. That's a good thing.
posted by Xoebe at 3:08 PM on July 26, 2008

If his comic book series was eponymous it would have been titled Javier Grillo-Marxuach.

No, if the comic book series were called Javier Grillo-Marxuach, its author would be eponymous.
posted by enn at 3:15 PM on July 26, 2008

Like a family-geek version of Strangers with Candy.

Wow. I need to watch this. Sounds right up my alley.
posted by brundlefly at 3:17 PM on July 26, 2008

LOL. From the Wikipedia entry:

Every episode thus far (through "The Boyband Superfan Interrogation") has used the Wilhelm scream in some way.
posted by brundlefly at 3:22 PM on July 26, 2008

Strangers with Candy

...ok, that's the DVR set.

Do people even try to watch TV in America without DVRs? It would seem difficult and/or unpleasant.
posted by Artw at 3:31 PM on July 26, 2008

@Brundlefly: Mondays, 10PM/9PMCST, ABC Family.

Previous episodes are available on iTunes ($1.99/per) and the usual places on the internet. I hate to act like a shill, but it's a great show that needs some support.
posted by vhsiv at 3:35 PM on July 26, 2008

Yeah, it's worth a look. I don't do comic book shows or movies as a rule, but the dialog is too good to pass up: quick, dense, reference laden. It rewards re-watching. You get the feeling somebody put a lot of thought into it which is... a pleasant surprise for a TV show.
posted by sdodd at 4:14 PM on July 26, 2008

Middleman is the only thing I watch on TV right now - and unlike some of the other stuff i watch when its in production (BSG, Heroes), i would cheerfully pay per episode for Middleman.
posted by Fuka at 4:21 PM on July 26, 2008

Just bought the pilot, vhsiv. Thanks.
posted by brundlefly at 4:31 PM on July 26, 2008

I tried the first couple of episodes, and wanted to like it. Gangster gorillas! A tentacled monster! Geeky references galore!

But I find it too precious by half, didn't care about the characters, and couldn't get into it.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 5:38 PM on July 26, 2008

I downloaded the first episode from iTunes and watched on my iPod. It was reasonably amusing, but it never really seemed to rise above the level of a cheap "Men In Black" wannabe. Should I have given it another chance?
posted by hwestiii at 5:59 PM on July 26, 2008

@ZL: 'Pushing Daisies' is the precious show. Any network show that's able to script tenatcled Hentaï monsters and get it past network is navigating some choppy water. Dense ≠ Precious.

@hwestiii: MIB was never this smart or dense. Neither Will Smith nor Tommy Lee Jones averaged 4 pop-culture references per line. Get on BT and collect a few more eps. It also helps if you're a comic book nerd. Or a fan of late '60's British serials like 'The Avengers' or even 'Doctor Who'.

I'd link my review if it didn't violate the TOS here. And no, I'm not being compensated for promoting this show, I'm just trying to turn people on to a good thing.
posted by vhsiv at 7:14 PM on July 26, 2008

I've really enjoyed the series so far. I can see that a lot of people who would love the show would probably not even consider watching because it's on ABC Family though.
posted by gyc at 7:24 PM on July 26, 2008

The first episode was meh. The second was good, the Third was absolute, pure genius.

I'm talking some of the most clever and entertaining stuff I've seen on TV in a long time. (It's the Sensei Ping/Luchadore Episode).

It's a great show, and an expected shame that execs can't figure out what to do with quality stuff.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:17 PM on July 26, 2008

I like this show(thanks vhsiv), but what symbolic item are we going to mail Fox to get them to even bother airing the remaining episodes?
posted by stavrogin at 9:21 PM on July 26, 2008

The show had me at "...X-Men - classic, not Ultimate..." and "...I swept the leg!"
posted by FormlessOne at 9:58 PM on July 26, 2008

Should I have given it another chance?

Yep. Think of it as "MIB: The Satire." It doesn't want to be MIB. MIB was "The Fresh Prince of Area 52." This show doesn't take itself, or much of anything else, seriously.
posted by FormlessOne at 10:02 PM on July 26, 2008

"...Area 51." Man, I have got to stop playing WoW.
posted by FormlessOne at 10:03 PM on July 26, 2008

I stalked vhsiv and found his review.

I'll give it a couple more episodes.
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:19 PM on July 26, 2008

Well, I'd not even heard of the show before this thread. And curiousity being what it is - I'm watching the first ep - seems pretty decent.
posted by cerulgalactus at 10:25 PM on July 26, 2008

I'm on the flip-side here, for the most part - can't get into Middleman at all; love Pushing Daisies.

Not that it matters. I just find Middleman tries too hard to be quirky, while Pushing Daisies is organically quirky. I also find the pacing on Middleman to cause the jokes to fall flat. That might be the editors' doing, but even when there are no editing cuts in a scene, the stilted pauses between Middleman and Dubby's lines in conversation make it feel like a community-theater production.

One thing in its favor: it passes the Bechdel Test (named for the cartoonist Alison Bechdel) with flying colors.
posted by tzikeh at 10:32 PM on July 26, 2008

I'd just discoverd and watched all the episodes a few days ago. Very good for a 'comic-book' storyline.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:37 AM on July 27, 2008

@ZL:Good job Zed! You're not even one of the 4 people on Mefi that I know in RL! Bravo!

@tzkeh:And the Bechdel Test is a hoot!
posted by vhsiv at 1:52 AM on July 27, 2008

So from what I understand ABC ordered a kid show and received a comedy series for adult geeks.

Coming up next on HBO: Hannah Montana!
posted by darkripper at 6:08 AM on July 27, 2008

@darkripper: If that's the case, then the suits at ABC Family are illiterate dolts -- which, from my understanding of the entertainment industry is par for the course.

Grillo-Marxuach is already something of an industry fixture, having been a hyphenate for one of the parent network's 'hit' shows, being involved with 'Lost' since its first season. Other contravening evidence about a 'kid's show' would be the eponymous Middleman comic book that's been published since 2005.

So no, the show's content shouldn't have been much of a surprise. On the contrary, they should have anticipated the cult potential of the show and given a second thought to placing it on their para-religious ABC Family network.

We're dead in the middle of summer and ABC proper is in third-place during prime-time, running 'The Bachelorette'. 'Dancing With The Stars'rather than scripted entertainment, during a record-breaking comic book summer at the cineplex.
posted by vhsiv at 7:18 AM on July 27, 2008

I stumbled across this a week ago. In a TV landscape of yet-another-reality-show and Hollywood-is-out if-ideas, here is "what the hell are they doing showing this on ABC Family?" ABC simply doesn't know what they have here, and they don't know what to do with it. It could use a massive dose of "Dr. Horrible" style web promotion.

Hunt the earlier episodes down and watch them. By the time you get to "The Sino-Mexican Revelation" with Mark Dacascos (The Chairman of Iron Chef America) as Sensei Ping facing off against a horde of masked Mexican wrestlers, you should be hooked.

Next on "The Middleman" - Wendy and the Middleman must destroy a cursed tuba from the Titanic.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 7:45 AM on July 27, 2008

The comic is definitely worth checking out, too, for the art of one Les McClaine. He's got a great webcomic called Jonny Crossbones, which is an agreeable adventure reminiscent of Tintin in both look and feel.
posted by picea at 8:13 AM on July 27, 2008

Just watched the pilot and didn't like it. The clever lines might have worked on the page but they were awful as spoken dialogue and should have been rewritten. The pop culture stuff was irritating and ham fisted. Maybe the comic is better.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 10:54 AM on July 27, 2008

I am so loving this show. Which means, of course, that it is doomed.
posted by dame at 4:54 PM on July 27, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yeah, it never fails that when something original and charming and clever comes along on television, it gets shafted and winds up doomed to cancellation. And they wonder why we're all skipping most broadcast tv programming in favor of downloads.
posted by nightchrome at 11:55 PM on July 27, 2008

Is America ABC Family not ready for Post-Modern and ironic superheroes?

posted by DU at 4:31 AM on July 28, 2008

I really like this show. Its setting represents the insanity-behind-the-scenes reality I hope to live in.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:19 AM on July 28, 2008

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