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DVD Review: The Middleman: The Complete Series

When my wife and I first caught the The Middle Man premiere on ABC Family back in June of last year, I have to say that we didn't much care for it... at all. We removed it from the season pass we had set up and didn't give it a second thought. Apparently others felt the same, since it only lasted for a single season. So now, just over a year later, the series has been released on DVD, and having not much else to watch, we decided to give it another shot... and I'm glad we did, though I still don't much care for the first episode.

The show starts out with a young woman named Wendy Watson temping at some research facility where in a lab directly behind her a giant blob monster forms, starts attacking all the scientists in the lab, and then busts through the giant glass window that we've been looking through. Instead of just screaming or being otherwise freaked out, Miss Wendy Watson remains calm, cool, and collected... and this is not lost on the mysterious guy who quickly arrives to vanquish the foul beast. He introduces himself as simply The Middle Man, and needless to she eventually ends up working with him to help fix "exotic problems".

If you're thinking this kind of sounds like Men in Black, well it kind of is... except that this show is completely zany, and I'm talking off-the-wall goofy here. Take the first episode, for instance, where they are chasing down a super smart ape which wears a new scientifically-developed helmet that enables him to speak and act like a human and who is also obsessed with the whole old-timey gangster era so is going out and killing various mafia guys but is actually just a pawn of the scientist behind the genetically enhanced apes project who is doing all this so that they can eventually help her to take over the world. Phew!

I suppose one of the reasons I didn't care for that episode is that it was just TOO far out there from what I was initially expecting. The episodes don't get any less weird, though, so there were other things that bugged me as well. For one, they show the killer (who we eventually learn to be the ape) in the shadows... but we can still clearly see that this person is a human-proportioned person and not an ape, so when we learn that the dark shadowy figure in the trench-coat is a bulky ape, I felt cheated. Also, in the first scene where the blob monster breaks out the glass window behind Wendy, she doesn't flinch or turn around to see what's happening, she just starts to climb on top of her desk so she can jump over, and even then she doesn't appear to be in any kind of a hurry.

After the first couple episodes, I really started to enjoy the whole silliness of the show, taking on flying zombie fish and vampire ventriloquist dummies and even an evil alternate universe complete with goatees. I also liked the interactions between the two lead characters, as they are each so different from each other, and the crazy supporting characters like Wendy's young, photogenic, animal activist roommate Lacey and the Middleman's grumpy robot Ida who looks like some kind of cranky retro librarian or schoolteacher. It's just a lighthearted good-natured show accessible to the whole family. I'm disappointed that I didn't give it more of a chance when it was on television, and even more disappointed that there isn't a second season coming.

There's one other minor detail I feel I need to mention about these discs... it takes just over 20 seconds before you can actually access the menu and start the show, and that doesn't include the FBI warning and commentary notice and whatnot. The 20 seconds is the amount of time it takes the menu animation to play through before it will let you access the controls. And if you try hitting the menu button on the remote while the animation is playing, instead of skipping right to the menu, it actually takes you back to the FBI warning so you have to go through that AND the menu animation again. Whoever thought that was a good idea should be fired and never allowed to work with DVDs ever again!

List of Episodes:

  • The Pilot Episode Sanction
  • The Accidental Occidental Conception
  • The Sino-Mexican Revelation
  • The Manicoid Teleportation Conundrum
  • The Flying Fish Zombification
  • The Boyband Superfan Interrogation
  • The Cursed Tuba Contingency
  • The Ectoplasmic Panhellenic Investigation
  • The Obsolescent Cryogenic Meltdown
  • The Vampiric Puppet Lamentation
  • The Clotharian Contamination Protocol
  • The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome

Bonus Features:

  • Web Featurettes
  • Javi-Casts
  • Gag Reel
  • Alternate Scenes
  • Audition Footage
  • The Openening Title Sequences
  • The Wilhelm Scream
  • The Complete "The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome" Table Read
  • The Middleman-ager
  • PSAs
  • "Scream Ur Luv 4 Me" Music Video
  • Ralph King Photo Gallery
  • Sheer Elegance In Its Simplicity

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