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What Say The Critics Of LOST Vet Javier Grillo Marxauch’s
New Science-Fiction Comedy Adventure MIDDLEMAN??

Published at: June 16, 2008, 6:19 p.m. CST


I am – Hercules!!
Javier Grillo-Marxuach, who served as writer and supervising producer on the Emmy-winning first season of “Lost,” has created a new sci-fi show, “Middleman,” based on his comic-book series and rocketing toward ABC Family tonight.

It’s about a (really hot) geek girl who finds herself sucked into a top-secret agency that contends with sci-fi menace. I’m all excited about it because my pal, the fabulous and fabulously talented Sarah Watson, has been hired as a writer-producer on the project and penned the first not-pilot episode. Others on the writing staff include the great Hans Beimler (“Star Trek: The Next Generation,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine”), Tracey Stern (“Sports Night,” “Angel”) and Jordan Rosenberg (who wrote the Goth Claire episode of “Lost”).

Natalie Morales, whom I’d describe as 105 pounds of bonerjuice, plays the geek girl. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says:
… a highly watchable hour of entertaining, occasionally cheesy TV that's smart enough to engage adults but also enjoyable for kids and teens. …
The Boston Herald says:
… snarky, clever … Morales recalls a young Fran Lebowitz. “Did you skinny-dip in the stupidity pool?” she demands at one point. All that’s missing are some onscreen blurbs like “BAM!” and “POW!” “The Middleman” will entertain anyone who is 8 years old at heart.
The Detroit Free Press says:
… a neat blend of humor and action. Kids can take it straight; grown-ups can savor the dry wit. Natalie Morales is perfect as Wendy, smartly sarcastic; Matt Keesler is ideal as the stereotypical hero.…
The Los Angeles Times says:
… it is the sort of show that basic cable was invented for; in that venue, light, self-mocking, silly and narrowly aimed may be seen for the good qualities they are. This is good summer entertainment, like a Saturday afternoon B-movie matinee transposed to Monday-night TV. …
The Los Angeles Daily News says:
… a fun little romp of a show, a superhero action-comedy that's deadpan one moment and over-the-top silly the next. … viewers may be happily surprised at how charmingly goofy they find "The Middleman."
The Orlando Sentinel says:
The hero and the heroine of The Middleman are the fastest talkers since the mom and daughter on Gilmore Girls. If you love rat-a-tat banter, The Middleman will be screwball heaven. The oddball adventures start at 8 p.m. Monday on ABC Family. The special effects have wacky charm -- not surprising for a series based on graphic novels. Yet the dialogue is even more special. Javier Grillo-Marxuach, creator of the novels and the series, gives his characters witty, distinctive things to say .… the show needs to guard against turning too cute. But I have high hopes for The Middleman. When you can chatter with the best of them, you should have a future on television.
The Boston Globe says:
… so light as to feel almost weightless, and compared to much TV, that comes as a relief. If comic books are meant to be escape, there are far worse worlds to camp in for the summer.…
The Hollywood Reporter says:
… way offbeat, occasionally lame but not uncharming piece of merriment that lets it all fly in the quest to bring a graphic novel to television life. … The creatures are essentially designed as bowling pins for our protagonists to knock over with a well-placed shot and a quip, and Keeslar and Morales’ interaction is nothing if not playful and lively. But you’re left not really knowing if you want to come return and spend a whole lot more time with this quarrelsome twosome.
Variety says:
… There's an explanation why most "Men in Black" knockoffs have failed -- namely, because achieving that balance of comedy and sci-fi action is pretty damn hard. Yet ABC Family has accomplished just that with "The Middleman," a delightful adaptation of "Lost" scribe Javier Grillo-Marxuach's graphic novel that brims with clever pop-culture references and disarming wit. …
8 p.m. Monday. ABC Family.


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Readers Talkback

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  • June 16, 2008, 1:39 a.m. CST

    What the hell is ABC Family?

    by fiester

    Will there be moral lessons at the end of the show before the ads for bible camp?

  • June 16, 2008, 1:47 a.m. CST

    Bonerjuice? Bonerjuice? Really? Huh.

    by LordEnigma

    SOMEONE GIVE HERC 15 DOLLARS, A MAT OF HARRY KNOWLES'S HAIR, AND DREW MCWEENEY'S WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP BELT! THIS MAN HAS JUST WON THE 2008 "TOMBOY BEANPOLE" AWARD! Congratulations to Herc and his family upon this monumentous occassion.

  • June 16, 2008, 2:30 a.m. CST

    This is a horrible show...

    by Average J.

    I saw this on Itunes. It's terrible. The acting, art design, camera work, dialogue - bad, bad, bad. What the hell are these critics smoking? Seriously!! Is this what it's come down to? Is everyone now so brainwashed from watching and accepting such crap over the years that this kind of show passes as good entertainment. This looks as though a film student put this together. Now I'm not saying this material can't work, but not the way they did it. It is just so pathetically sad that people are saying this is a well put together show. Please, please, please let there be one person out there who agrees with me or I may just have to toss my television set and pick up a book again. Ack! I don't want to do that.

  • June 16, 2008, 2:54 a.m. CST

    is that a real comic book?

    by Napoleon Park

    How come there's no publisher logo? you know, Vertigo, Dark Horse, IDW, Top shelf, Devil's due, whatever the current dool company is. Don't publishers tend to like getting their name on the covers of books they publish?<p>I'm not saying it's fake, I'm just dayin' it looks fake.

  • June 16, 2008, 3:15 a.m. CST

    105 pounds of bonerjuice

    by Napoleon Park

    this years little miss chocolate coated pussy juice - but saltier.

  • June 16, 2008, 3:17 a.m. CST

    That girl is like the complete opposite of hot.

    by BitterMan23

    Herc you have some terrible taste man. She looks like Chris Kattan.

  • June 16, 2008, 4:53 a.m. CST

    the chick in the comic is much hotter

    by bacci40

    the lead is cute...but not hot..and she is supposed to be wearing bear midriff stuff...thats a great running joke in the comic...

  • June 16, 2008, 4:55 a.m. CST

    captboulder...absoulutely...cassie steele, perfect for the role

    by bacci40

    and she is done with degrassi...wtf is wrong with hollywood...

  • June 16, 2008, 4:58 a.m. CST

    Napoleon Park...its real

    by bacci40

    published by a small company out of texas...viper comics...this is basically their biggest product...why javier went with such a small firm and not dark horse or image may have something to do with the rights

  • June 16, 2008, 5:11 a.m. CST

    Okay AICN. It is here. Now bring back...

    by mrfan

    my Busted Tees Ladies (especially red). Please.<p>Pretty please.

  • June 16, 2008, 6:11 a.m. CST

    itunes

    by jr42602

    You can still watch the pilot for free on iTunes. It's one of the worst things I've ever seen. I'd be surprised if it went more than 4 episodes.

  • June 16, 2008, 6:34 a.m. CST

    Whoah settle down Herc

    by crayon

    At least the others on AICN try to show how professional they are when disclosing friends they know working to a project. Herc doesn't even attempt it. He just squeals like a girl. <br><br> I don't know if I should be ashamed or proud?

  • June 16, 2008, 7 a.m. CST

    really hot? isn't that sandra bernhard? yeccch!

    by cornjob1

    what a she-male hag,,,,i just hope the show is good....

  • June 16, 2008, 7:32 a.m. CST

    I also just watched it on iTunes

    by jopari

    I thought it was fun, but not a brilliant piece of television that some others in this talkback are obviously expecting. The acting abilities of the mobsters (and the plot) were laughably bad, but I'm pretty sure both were purposeful choices. I'm more than willing to give it another shot, but I can't say that I'd miss it if it gets canceled.

  • June 16, 2008, 7:36 a.m. CST

    Oh yeah

    by jopari

    It's pretty obvious that the version on iTunes isn't the final version of the episode-it's missing a title sequence, for instance. Also, I like ABC family had the balls to let the characters swear; they simply edit the swears from the broadcast. I wish more shows did that; it adds an aspect of reality to the characters.

  • June 16, 2008, 9:22 a.m. CST

    40 pounds of bonerjuice

    by ArcadianDS

    and 65 pounds of nose.

  • June 16, 2008, 9:45 a.m. CST

    might give it a chance

    by palewook

    not like scifi is forthcoming on most american tv these days. yay for F'n reality tv..

  • June 16, 2008, 11:22 a.m. CST

    I've Just Watched It Too!

    by DangerMan

    Is this airing on public access? It's like something made for You Tube with lesser production values. Is this how you get a TV show on and a few good reviews, bu ripping off MEN IN BLACK? Worst thing about this show: Javier Grillo-Marxuach on the official website thinking he's funny, appearing on camera mugging, licking out his tongue and hitting himself on the head as he tries to do standup. What a bomb. When they showed a preview in the theater for this thing, people booed and someone screamed: "Turn it off!"

  • June 16, 2008, 12:15 p.m. CST

    never heard of but will watch

    by Mr_X

    to make up my own mind!

  • June 16, 2008, 12:28 p.m. CST

    isn't bonerjuice...sperm?

    by zom-bot.com

    ew. i hope she's not that. i wanna see this, but you KNOW damn well it will fail if it's actually good and end up replayed on sci-fi next year. sorry, it's the truth.

  • June 16, 2008, 12:32 p.m. CST

    To each their own

    by kdoc13

    I wouldn't come close to describing that as Bonerjuice. Neither pic does her justice. The second one even makes me recall "The Crying Game." But people don't get my mad love for Grace Park of Battlestar Galactica or Emma de Caunes, most recently of Mr. Bean's Holiday. So I guess to each their own. But... to me, far far far from Bonerjuice. Sorry dude.

  • June 16, 2008, 12:32 p.m. CST

    she is nerdy cute, btw

    by zom-bot.com

    like a tina fay or some such. bonerjuice hot?..let's just leave it at cute. unless you want agirl you can keep in your pocket and talk comics and movies with.<P>okay actually that does sound good.

  • June 16, 2008, 1:34 p.m. CST

    Saw it on iTunes

    by PullMyFinger

    I noticed it on there for free sometime last week and gave it a try and ended up liking it a lot. In fact, I'll probably watch it again tonight to make sure I didn't miss anything. Marxuach did a good job with the script, it felt right for a 18-35 age demographic with all the cultural references in there. Definitely worth a try, and you gotta see her outside of those 2 shots, she looks a lot better on the show.

  • June 16, 2008, 2:47 p.m. CST

    Sounds great...

    by Gislef_crow

    Of course, it sounded better back when Javier tried to do the same thing with The Chronicle. A little gender reversal (the newbie is female this time), reporters instead of agents, but the same barrage of pop cultural references, fast-talking, and paranormal stuff. Maybe when this flops, he'll take another shot at it in 10 years.

  • June 16, 2008, 3:04 p.m. CST

    I'll give it a shot.

    by Kurutteru Yatsu

    The ads on AICN look lame but it's not as if there's much else to watch on Monday nights.

  • June 16, 2008, 3:16 p.m. CST

    I downloaded it from itunes

    by ThrowMeTheIdol

    I couldn't get but about 8 or 9 minutes into it. It was just so amateurish and the lead girl is not attractive which would have been okay if she was charming but no such luck.

  • June 16, 2008, 4:08 p.m. CST

    Bonerjuice?

    by skimn

    Yup, let me echo those above...and there are those that say Sarah Jessica Parker has a horse face...they ain't seen nothin' yet.

  • June 16, 2008, 5:25 p.m. CST

    So I guess being "a (really hot) geek girl" means...

    by Cletus Van Damme

    ...you look like the lead singer of the Crash Test Dummies?

  • June 16, 2008, 6:11 p.m. CST

    Bonerjuice...?

    by ebonic_plague

    ...this site has officially gone more Cumpston than Cumpston.

  • June 16, 2008, 6:11 p.m. CST

    History of ABC Family...

    by critch

    ABC Family used to be Fox Family I believe until Disney bought it as a method to capture the tween market (That they eventually got through their Disney Channel.) They actually wanted to change it from being a family channel and just being an all purpose channel, hence why stuff like Cruel Intentions ended up on it, and sex-and-adult-situations-heavy shows like Greek and Wildfire are on. According to their contracts with cable providers, they cannot change their format or name otherwise the channel will be open to be removed, and would likely be removed since their ratings are horrible. They also are locked into a contract with the 700 club from the previous owners of the channel. So you have situations like the aforementioned Cruel Intentions leading into the 700 club. The current situation with the channel is another leftover from the horrible Eisner years. There's a book on it: "DisneyWar". On topic: No way in hell I'll ever watch anything but reruns of Whose line is it anyway on the channel. ESPECIALLY original programming. I shudder at how horrible it must be.

  • June 16, 2008, 6:22 p.m. CST

    shit..

    by FamousEccles

    ...just plain old shit...

  • June 16, 2008, 8:05 p.m. CST

    That was cute.

    by tonagan

    And she was cute, too. The perfect summer series.

  • June 16, 2008, 8:39 p.m. CST

    That was funny..maybe not laugh out loud

    by commiepinko

    funny but smile all the way through funny. And the girl's not hot but she is cute.

  • June 16, 2008, 8:45 p.m. CST

    Wasn't half bad, needs improvement.

    by Kurutteru Yatsu

    Bigger budget. Different network (ABC Family? I feel unclean). Not everyone needs to talk in a snappy rapid fire fashion or make constant hip references. That said, there's definitely material to work with. The leads are likable enough, and it's true, Natalie Morales is far more attractive than the banner ads would lead you to believe. Whoever compared her to Sarah Jessica "Her face looks like a hoof!" Parker is off their gourd. I'll stick with this one for the time being and see if they hammer out the kinks. Thanks Herc, I never would have watched this if not for the article.

  • June 16, 2008, 9:06 p.m. CST

    Awesome!

    by RowdyRoddyStriper

    Another show with terrible dialogue that thinks it is way more witty and funny than it actually is. I swear, they don't make many of these types of shows anymore. Gotta love witty banter and perfectly timed pop culture references when your life is in danger.

  • June 16, 2008, 10:13 p.m. CST

    The Barrel Has A New Bottom

    by DangerMan

    RowdyRoddy is right on. What a tub of shit masquerading as clever from an idiot egotist who coined his own phrase "Javicentric"! I worked a party with one of the top ABC Family execs at it, Kate Jurgens, and she was the dumbest female since Jodie Foster played "Nell". How's THAT for an obscure pop culture reference?

  • June 17, 2008, 10:17 a.m. CST

    Nerd girls are hot

    by Billkor

    Did you guys see the show?These stills do not do her justice! This is aintitcool not maxim or some other trash-i realize it was just her character but when she listed off the comics she reads- i got wood!!

  • June 17, 2008, 10:31 a.m. CST

    This is goofy and fun...

    by Ninja Nerd

    I DVR'd this and watched it late last night. I wasn't expecting much, so I was pleasantly surprised when this turned out to be goofy as hell and fun to watch. No, this isn't "serious" like BSG or Lost. It's more like Chuck on NBC, but way less grounded in any sort of reality. While there are nods to MIB...one of the devices The MiddleMan hands her in the car looks like the "red flashy thing" from MIB...it's got it's own vibe going. I can't say this is great science fiction or drama, but's it fun. And that's fine by me. I smiled, I laughed, and I will watch again.

  • June 17, 2008, 1:14 p.m. CST

    Needs a decent budget

    by aversiontherapy2

    The writing is good, and if this had the kind of budget a show like Eureka has, and better art direction (it's an obvious comic book-ish universe but filmed so blandly, it needs a stylised milieu), it could be a keeper.

  • June 17, 2008, 3:36 p.m. CST

    It was... okay

    by Gislef_crow

    Like I said, it was better the first time when it was The Chronicle. It looks like Elaine Hendrix will be recurring, and she was recurring on The Chronicle too. Are her and Javier dating? The male lead was just dumb, the female lead was okay in a JGarafalo kind of way. There wasn't much plot, due to the setup. Next week's previews looked... interesting if incoherent, so will give it one more shot at least.

  • June 18, 2008, 9:19 p.m. CST

    Goofy fun is right!

    by Messiahman

    Those who are bagging on this show are clearly of the “humorless dickhead talkbacker” variety, as what I saw was fun, cleverly written and well-acted. Natalie Morales is certainly adorable, and Matt Keeslar (who I’ve liked ever since WAITING FOR GUFFMAN) is a riot. It was smart, funny comic book, and now it’s a smart, funny television show that I’ll definitely be watching again. It’s much more engaging than recent attempts at quirky comedic heroes (I’m looking at you, CHUCK) and with a slight budget increase, it could really be something special. Marxuach has always been a talented writer, and his skill is in full display here.

  • June 18, 2008, 9:46 p.m. CST

    Oh, and Danger Man...

    by Messiahman

    "I worked a party with one of the top ABC Family execs at it, Kate Jurgens, and she was the dumbest female since Jodie Foster played "Nell"." <p>What bothers you more? The fact that a woman is a high-powered executive, or the fact that you spent the night serving cocktail weenies and mopping up spilled drinks? It's nice to know that the service industry out here is still as bitterly seething as always.