Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I Am Not Crazy!

Well, many of you may think I'm crazy, citing as proof the last ten years of entries to this blog and journal. But ignore that and bear with me for a moment.

My point today is that I am not crazy in
my adoration for what is perhaps the greatest television series in the entire history of the medium, Javier Grillo-Marxuach's The Middleman.

Although not officially cancelled by ABC Family, the show remains in limbo and the twelve glorious episodes produced last year will probably be our only tickets to ride on this wondrous pop culture roller coaster. Even a DVD of the twelve episodes has yet to be released.

And so I actually feared that I was crazy, or at least terribly alone, in my love for Natalie Morales and Brit Morgan (both pictured above) and Matt Keesler and the entire cast and crew of The Middleman.

Ahhhh, but the end of the year brings out all these great Top Ten lists and guess what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a sleigh full of great and well deserved tributes to this literary and comedic masterpiece. Here are but a few that have come to my attention:

USA Today writes of star Natalie Morales: "Her character on ABC Family's The Middleman is smart, creative and tough -- and you don't get a lot of those on TV these days. Now all we can do is cross our fingers that the gang will return for another season..."

Time Out Chicago puts The Middleman into their Top Ten. They wisely observe: "An adaptation of the popular comic-book series proved to be the summer’s smartest, geekiest fare—or at least proved that to the dozens of us who watched and fell in love with Wendy “Dub Dub” Watson (Natalie Morales), an artsy twentysomething who finds herself battling the forces of evil. Wendy and her boss, the retro Middleman, fought aliens, mad scientists, James Bond–style villains and the crippling ennui familiar to recent college graduates, all while spouting allusions to every sci-fi classic or B-movie hero you’ve ever heard of and many you haven’t."

Of course it's no surprise that
Comic Book Resources (CBR) should out The Middleman into their Top Ten for both the graphic novels and the Television Series. What is a bit of a surprise is that they place The Middleman series ABOVE such highly praised movies as the blockbuster Ironman! Their praise is so effusive and so spot on correct I am forced to reprint even more of their review:

"If this show doesn’t cause you to laugh out loud with delight, then you are dead inside. Well, here is all that fun, present not just on the original Middleman comics pages but even– to my continuing astonishment!– done for television."

"I would not have thought it was possible to get that crazed Bob Haney adrenaline-fueled superhero feel captured on a TV show until I saw this. Gorillas with machine guns, aliens masquerading as Botox junkies, fashionista succubi…. and Matt Keeslar and Natalie Morales inhabiting the characters from the comic so beautifully I have a hard time picturing them any other way now."

"It helps that the guy who created the original comic is the show’s producer. Some of you may have missed this magnificent television series on ABC Family that aired earlier this year. Fortunately, there are some clips on YouTube that should enlighten you, at least a little.
Here. And here. And one more for the hell of it."

"Please, please, get this show another season, or failing that, get the first twelve out on DVD. And in the meantime, you all should treat yourselves to the trade paperback The Middleman: The Collected Series Indispensability, which I believe collects everything done in the comics to date."

But let's continue with the growing list of reviewers and critics who have chosen The Middleman of one of 2008's Ten Best.

Certainly Robert Lloyd of the
Los Angeles Times was already considered as one of the nation's most highly regarded television critics. But what will be a real eye opener to my many liberal and progressive readers is that Lloyd heaped equally effusive amounts of praise on MSNBC's terrific Rachel Maddow, the brilliant Tina Fey and The Middleman. Lloyd writes: "Culturally allusive live-action comic book works both as adventure and parody. Sometimes sweet, sometimes snarky, but always smart."

New Jersey's Star Ledger critic Alan Sepinwall who placed The Middleman on his Top Ten list and wrote: "The Middleman, meanwhile, was a hilarious and ever-cheerful adaptation of writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach's comic book about an office temp (Natalie Morales) recruited to work with a super hero (Matt Keeslar) in cleaning up messes involving aliens, demons and, on occasion, evil Mexican wrestlers. It was silly, smart and all-too-short-lived."

This is already running the risk of being the longest blog entry in Wizard history and I'm not even close to done!

Critic Al Norton, in his column
Two TiVo's in Paradise, placed The Middleman all the way on to the top as the Number One Comedy of 2008, ranking it above other greats such as Pushing Daisies, The Office and 30 Rock! Norton acclaims the series stating, "This was a very easy choice as no show made me laugh as much as The Middleman, and certainly none did so with as wide an array of humor styles; witty banter, puns, physical comedy, pop culture references, and romantic comedy were just some of the ways the show got a hold of your funny bone, frequently managing to combine two or three of them to great effect."
NPR critic David Bianculli named The Middleman as one of the television events to
Celebrate in 2008.

Las Vegas Weekly critic Josh Bell put The Middleman on his Top Ten list and wryly observed, "Based on a comic book series that nobody read, this show that nobody watched was a hilarious, endlessly creative mix of cheesy throwback sci-fi and postmodern pop-culture quippiness."

This list could probably go on forever, but I'll end with Bill Frost of
The Salt Lake Weekly has named The Middleman to his list of 2008 "Greats." I love Frost's review: "Anything would be too smart for ABC Family, but the geektastic Middleman (think Men in Black meets vintage Saturday-morning action cheese) probably will never find a proper home—not until the Sci-Fi Channel merges with Comedy Central, anyway. ABC Family hasn’t officially canceled The Middleman, but it seems as likely to return as (insider joke alert) finding a cherry Hruck Bugbear on CarMax.com. I’ll miss you most of all, Dubby … "

I'll echo that! Barring a 2009 miracle, I'll miss Dubby, too......

Maybe I am crazy after all.


Unknown said...

I'm with you on this 100%.

Great show, entertaining, fun romp.

Bob Keller said...

Lee, I always knew I liked you!

Vigilante said...

Wizard, Trophy Wife and I search high a low for TV fare that we can watch together. When we find a candidate, we hold our breath, anticipating its early demise. I conclude that smart shows don't last on TV, because too few smart people watch TV. Why is that?

I'll watch for Middleman-the DVD. In the meantime, (Hold your breath and don't speak over a whisper) there's a hopeful rumor that Friday Night Lights is returning this week.