There were so many choices I could have gone for, so many good or just unusual or interesting shows I could have picked. Normally I would have gone for Alien Nation because it was a truly great TV series. But since Grant has already snaffled that one, and everything he says is spot on, I figured I'd go for -
I think what I liked most about The Middleman was that it was a joyous show. Not cynical, or mean spirited, but fun and full of whimsy. Its humour came from fabulous characters and weird situations, not embarrassing circumstances or people being horrible to one another (unless you count Ida, an android locked in 'domineering schoolmarm' mode, who was delightfully horrible to everyone).
The main characters of the Middleman, Wendy, and Ida were well drawn and realised, and the supporting cast got their moments pretty much every episode as well. Plus it played against the stereotypical laziness of TV writing without ever cracking a sweat, easily passing the Bechdel test, as well as Deggan's rule.
It played knowingly with the tropes of villains and heroes from comics, TV, and film, but with the deft touch of someone who loves the genre and isn't trying to show how smart they are, but how enjoyable the genre is. Some episodes were 'themed' so that subtle references to a specific show or book were scattered throughout - one episode grabs its names from Dune, another from Back to the Future - the real wit of this was that they seldom went for the obvious references.
Was it a perfect show? No, but it certainly wasn't bad and it had a lot more heart than most TV. Most of all, one came away from The Middleman feeling happier, and not many shows can do that.
Fabulous little fan-made vid
Two public service announcements.