Our ongoing look back at sci fi / fantasy TV shows that were cancelled way too soon or pilots that never made it to series.
This odd little series showed up on ABC Family’s schedule in the Summer of 2008 based on the comic book of the same name created by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Les McClaine. Grillo-Marxuach remained closely involved with the television production which revolved around a superhero character known as the Middleman who’s motto is “fighting evil, so you don’t have to”. Basically, he is one of a long line of heroes (Phantom style) who positions himself between us normal people and the terrible, evil villains out there, thus making him the middleman. In the series, Matt Keeslar is the titular character and he is training the young Wendy Watson (played by Natalie Morales) as his eventual replacement. The show delivered an edgy, fun, wit-a-minute superhero romp with tongue firmly planted in cheek evidenced by episode titles such as “The Ectoplasmic Panhellenic Investigation”, “The Boyband Superfan Interrogation”, and “The Flying Fish Zombification”. Unfortunately, it was a little bit ahead of the superhero boom on television, and its self-winking, meta zietgiest attitude did not quite fit in too well on its family friendly network. Its ratings were not high enough for ABC Family to give it a second season and its original episode order was even cut short by one. But Grillo-Marxuach had nothing bad to say about the network because he claimed that they gave him plenty of freedom with the show. And he claimed that he would have much rather done just twelve episodes the way he did rather than have the show go on for multiple seasons with the network looking over his shoulder. A “series finale” was eventually produced when the planned thirteenth episode was adapted into comic book format with The Middleman – The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse in 2009 (and in 2014 a crowdfunding campaign brought us The Middleman – Volume 5 – The Pan-universal Parental Reconciliation). And the series did make its way to DVD (though not Blu-ray yet), which is worth picking up in case you never saw it or just want to revisit this fun, quirky little series.
Aired: ABC Family, 2008, 1 Season Totaling 12 Episodes
Starring: Matt Keeslar, Natalie Morales, Mary Pat Gleason, Brit Morgan
Created By: Javier Grillo-Marxuach
Available from Amazon.com: