Saturday, June 21, 2008


Okay, I am going to stray from usual topics because I can't help it. I have to recommend a new show to you.

I have never been a big fan of comic books. It’s not that I dislike them or don’t respect the art form. They just never appealed to me the way that a good fiction novel and my own imagination did. I have read a few, mostly those with tie-ins to movies I loved like Star Wars. They just aren’t my thing. But I love science fiction, and I love tv. And so I must recommend the delightful new ABC Family Show “The Middleman,” which airs Monday nights. Okay, I confess. I am friends with the show’s creator. We went to college together, but we have not been in close touch for several years. So I am not overly biased. Javier did, however, give me the most encouraging words I ever received during my first attempt to break into Hollywood as a writer. And I have never forgotten. In fact, the memory of his words is what has kept me going in my second attempt.

But I digress. “The Middleman” is about a super hero, actually more of a super secret agent, assigned to investigate criminals of a supernatural, science fiction-like kind. And it’s about his sidekick, Wendy Watson, a wanna be artist temping her way through to pay bills while awaiting success -- like so many of us have done past and present. The show has sparkling dialogue and great pop culture references from shows like “Planet of The Apes” to things like the Xbox, on which Wendy honed they very skills she now employs in her temp job fighting bad guys.

The actors do an excellent job selling the material and bringing the characters to life. The production values are top notch. And they even got “24’s” beloved Chloe O’Brien (Mary Lynn Rajskub) to do a guest shot in the pilot as an evil scientist. The show features everything from aliens to talking apes to human beings. And it stays away from cliché, by even making its cliché-like moments (which all of us find hard to avoid at times in our writing) sizzle and twist in unexpected ways. The result is one of the best new shows I’ve seen since, well, “24” or even “Lost,” which coincidentally employed Javier for its first two seasons. It’s clever, it’s entertaining, and it’s just plain fun. Don’t miss “The Middleman.” You won’t forget it.

By the way, it even has elements of culture clash in it as Wendy is dragged into a world beyond her comprehension and adapts handily to it. While in the meantime, maintaining our connection to the world we all inhabit and was formerly her only home. It's interesting to watch those dynamics play out, and Javier being one of the foremost Hispanic writers in Hollywood -- along with the actress playing Wendy who happens to be Hispanic -- I imagine we have only seen a foretaste of the interesting culture clashes to come.

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