The Middleman

Season 1 Episode 11

The Clotharian Contamination Protocol

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Aug 25, 2008 on ABC Family



  • Trivia

    • Trivia: Wendy comments that Maximum Aldwin sounds "like Graham Chapman and [dresses] like a Vestal virgin". Graham Chapman is one of the six members of Monty Python's Flying Circus. He played many roles on the show, mostly authority figures, and is best known for playing the Colonel, who interrupted many of the skits to insist that they stop because they were offensive. He also played King Arthur in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Chapman passed away in 1989.

    • Trivia: Tyler mentions The Return of Bruno, Bruce Willis' 1987 debut album. The album peaked at #14 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

    • The term "nanobot" appears in dozens of science fiction films, television shows and novels. And yet somehow Wendy doesn't recognize the term despite her vast knowledge of science fiction trivia.

  • Quotes

    • Wendy: I'll be shredded...
      The Middleman: ... like a White House phone log.

    • Lacey: Look, I don't care what you say, you are going to that interview and I'm driving you there.
      Tyler: Lacey, I'm a musician.
      Lacey: And this is like Bono offering you a job.
      Noser: Bono, Buddha and the Wizard of Oz.

    • Tyler: Seriously, Dubbie, since you and I met, I've been writing like a song-nado.
      Wendy: A tornado made of songs?
      Tyler: You know it.

    • Noser: If you saved his life using kung fu, he owes you what the Chinese sifus, the Japanese sensei, and the Jedi Knights refer to as a "life debt".
      Lacey: Every kung fu movie ever made can't be wrong.
      Noser: In terms the common man can understand: you own his ass.

    • The Middleman: Son of a monkey's uncle, Wendy Watson, which part of "this is an emergency" didn't you get?
      Lacey: Wendy, why is your boss standing outside our door wearing a hazmat suit?

    • The Middleman: I'm not gonna lie to you, Dubbie. The tailgate party's about to begin and we have a 10' manure hoagie on our hands.
      Wendy: What's with the salty language?

    • The Middleman: Voyager 2 is rocketing back home, and it's coming in hotter than the devil's wedding tackle.
      Wendy: Whoa, that was filthy.

    • Lacey: Put this on.
      Tyler: That's the tie that Wendy and I hang on the stairs when we're…
      Lacey: Like I don't know.

    • Wendy: Shouldn't we be doing this in the lab or something?
      Ida: So did they teach you about labs in art school?
      Wendy: Yes, and they also taught me about the ancient art of color matching.

    • Wendy: What if something happens to the box?
      Ida: Well, then I'd say it's been nice knowing ya, but it hasn't.

    • The Middleman: It's your chance to handle a piece of history, albeit through triple-strength prophylactics.
      Wendy: No. And please don't call them that.

    • Wendy: Clothar? The war-torn galaxy that sent us Varsity Fanclub, five intergalactic dictators masquerading as a boy band and threatening to destroy Earth and everyone on it?
      Ida: You remember that? And I thought you were on the happy leaf the entire time.

    • Wendy: Showers?
      Ida: Yeah. D-con protocol, honey. That's what you get for being made of meat.

    • The Middleman: (stripped naked) There's no such thing as modesty when life and death are at stake. Now, quit your grinning and drop your linen.
      Wendy: I'm not grinning.

    • The Middleman: I record a Code 47 for you during every mission. I'm as serious as a German film festival.

    • The Middleman: (pre-recorded) Dubbie, if you're seeing this, I have perished in the Underworld. Hopefully, we've stopped a thousand years of fire. If not, you might want look into getting an asbestos umbrella. Or a really good insurance policy.

    • The Middleman: (pre-recorded) Dubbie, if you're seeing this, we were unable to stop Varsity Fanclub, the Clotharian rebel fleet opened up a warphole, and their armada has reduced the planet Earth to a smoking cinder. I'm not sure how you managed to survive, but "Good for you!"

    • Wendy: Ida. It's me, the toker. Hophead McStoney. Pick up!

    • Wendy: Can I say something?
      The Middleman: That's what the Founding Fathers fought for.
      Wendy: What's up with the vents? I mean we're coming from an isolation chamber inside a secret headquarters built by an organization so covert we don't even know who they are. Yet somehow we have vents large enough to crawl into with accessible registers everywhere. Was this building designed by TV writers or what?
      The Middleman: No, it wasn't.

    • The Middleman: Nanobots are strong, but you're smarter. It's like what Sensei Ping says about weasels.
      Wendy: They can easily hide in a tube sock?

  • Notes

    • The Clotharian writing ("Made in Clothar") is actually a public domain variant of the Aurabesh alphabet from Star Wars.

    • In The Middleman graphic novels, F.A.T.B.O.Y. (Federated Agents of Tyranny, Betrayal and Oppression's Yoke) is run by the villainous Kanimang Kang and Manservant Neville is his primary henchman.

    • Featured Music

      "Let's Get Ready to Crumble" by Russian Futurists

    • In the graphic novels, guest star Mark Sheppard—a friend of creator/executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach—was used as a template for Manservant Neville.

  • Allusions

    • Ida: It's what you get for being made out of meat!

      Referencing Terry Bisson's Nebula-nominated 1991 short story "They're Made Out of Meat" about two alien intelligences who visit Earth and are astonished to discover carbon-based life forms. It was adapted into a film in 2005.

    • The Godfather: Part II

      The scene with The Middleman strangling the Interrodroid with a coat hanger alludes to the scene in The Godfather: Part II (1974) where Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) has his bodyguard execute Johnny Ola (Dominic Chianese) in a similar manner.

    • Ida: Today John Wayne does not get to ride of into the sunset with Grace Kelly.
      The Middleman: That's Gary Cooper.

      Referencing High Noon (1952). The movie stars Gary Cooper as Marshal Will Kane, who finds himself forced to confront a gang of killers by himself when the town's folk refuse to help.

    • Fantastic Voyage

      Wendy shrinking in an effort to save Ida from nanobots infesting her brain references the premise of a 1966 film, Fantastic Voyage, starring Stephen Boyd, Raquel Welch and Donald Pleasence. Scientists shrink a team of specialists to microscopic size to save the life of a scientist who suffered a head injury during an assassination attempt. The film is also referenced in a chyron, "It's like Fantastic Voyage. Or Die Hard. Inside an android."

    • Tyler: Is this gonna be like that Saved by the Bell where no one would tell Jessie how bad her music really was so she had a caffeine pill freakout?

      Referencing the second season episode of the series, "Jessie's Song", where (despite Tyler's errant memories) Jessie actually takes caffeine pills so she can sing and keep up on her grades, not because she's a bad singer. She manages to pass an important test but collapses on the day of the audition and Screech takes her place.

    • Tyler: Did your boss just call you on your watch about a Pan-Galactic Gargle Blaster?

      Referencing the "best drink in existence", as created by writer Douglas Adams for The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's described as "similar to having one's brains smashed out by a slice of lemon wrapped around a large gold brick".

    • Noser: If you saved his life using kung fu, he owes you what the Chinese sifus, the Japanese sensei and the Jedi Knights refer to as a "life debt".

      Referencing the semi-mystic knights created by George Lucas for the Star Wars movies. The Jedi possess vast telekinetic and telepathic abilities and wield lightsabers capable of cutting through almost every substance, and are the major protagonists of the series.

    • Noser: It seems to have an invisible touch, yeah.

      Referencing rock group Genesis' thirteenth album, and the title song of the same name. The album went to #1 in the UK and #3 in the U.S., going six time platinum.

    • Wendy: Forget it, Lacey, it's Chinatown.

      Referencing the final line of the 1974 movie Chinatown, directed by Roman Polanski and starring Jack Nicholson, John Huston and Faye Dunaway. The line is spoken by Walsh (Joe Mantell) to his partner Jake (Nicholson).

    • Wendy: Is that why we're going all Andromeda Strain on it?

      Referencing the 1969 novel written by Michael Crichton documenting the tale of a virus that returns to Earth on a military satellite. After wiping out a small town, the virus is taken to a secret laboratory, Wildfire, and almost escapes. A movie was made of the novel in 1971 and a mini-series produced by Ridley and Tony Scott in 2008 for A&E Network.

    • Wendy: Or if it has already judged its makers and found them wanting?

      Referencing the first Star Trek movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979), directed by Robert Wise (who also directed The Andromeda Strain, see above). The plot features an altered Voyager 6 returning to Earth to seek out its makers and report everything that it has learned.

    • Noser: Bono, Buddha and the Wizard of Oz.

      Referencing Frank L. Baum's 1900 book, The Wizard of Oz (and the popular 1939 movie adaptation), and the title character. Dorothy and her friends go to the Emerald City to seek out the Wizard so he can grant their wishes by making them realize that what they wanted is what they already had.

    • Wendy: Guess I can cross "give my boss a Silkwood shower" off the life list.

      Referencing the film Silkwood (1983), dramatizing the life of Karen Silkwood, a nuclear facility employee who disappeared while investigating her employer's illegal activities at the plutonium plant. In one scene she takes a shower to remove potential radioactive contamination.

    • Wendy: We've been Jack Traven-ed!

      Referencing the movie Speed (1994), where Keanu Reeves plays Jack Traven, a police officer trying to capture, Payne (Dennis Hopper), an insane bomber who has rigged a bus to explode if it slows below 50 MPH. At one point Jack rigs a video feed to the camera Payne is using to monitor the bus, repeating the same footage over and over.

    • Wendy: It's like Oompa-Loompas with power tools.

      Referencing the characters created by Roald Dahl for his novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964). The Oompa-Loompas are a race of dwarves from Loompaland who Wonka brings back to his factory so they can serve as his exclusive workers. They were originally described as black pygmies but Roald rewrote them as pale-skinned with golden-brown hair for the novel's release. They have appeared in both movie adaptations, in 1971 with Gene Wilder and 2005 with Johnny Depp. In all versions they sing moralistic ditties concerning the bad children as they get their comeuppance.

    • The Middleman: But remember, you can't injure me or through inaction allow me to come to harm.

      Referencing the First Law of Robotics, created by prolific writer Isaac Asimov. Asimov first described the Three Laws in his short story "Runaround" (1942). The Second Law is that a robot must obey orders given to it by human beings as long as it doesn't conflict with the First Law, and the Third Law is that a robot must not allow itself to come to harm as long as it doesn't conflict with the First and Second Laws.

    • Ida: You want to stop the nanobot Apocalypse Now?

      Referencing the 1979 movie starring Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando. Loosely based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness (1899), the movie shows Army Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Sheen) ordered to travel into the heart of Combodia to assassinate renegade Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Brando).

    • Die Hard

      There are several references to the movie Die Hard (1988), starring Bruce Willis as maverick cop John McClane.

      * The movie, based on the 1979 novel Nothing Lasts Forever, has McClane trapped in the Nakotomi Building and crawling through the vents (hence the "Nakotomi Protocols").
      * Wendy's "Come out to the coast…" line refers to McClane saying the same thing as he crawls through the building's overly large ventilator shafts.
      * "Hans Gruber-ed by our own robot" refers to the movie villain's, portrayed by Alan Rickman.
      * Wendy saying she has a machine gun and going "Ho ho ho" refers to a scene where McClane steals a gun from his attackers and says the same thing.
      * Aldwin's parting line, "Yippy-kay-yay, *bleep*" references McClane's catchphrase stated in the first movie and its subsequent sequels.
      * When The Middleman uses the keypad to start the Nakatomi Protocol, the Ninth Symphony of Beethoven is played. This also featured extensively in the soundtrack of Die Hard.
      * Wendy's line of how "It's Die Hard in a building" references how the film became an instant plot formulae in Hollywood.
      * "Today John Wayne doesn't get to ride off into the sunset with Grace Kelly" is a paraphrase of one of Hans Gruber's line.
      * "Welcome to the party, Ida" is a paraphrase of one of McClane's lines.
      * When the secret doorway to the tube opens, the soundtrack plays "Ode to Joy", mimicking a similar moment in the movie when the terrorists open a vault to the same music.

    • Doctor Who

      There are several references to Doctor Who (1963–1989, 1996, 2005–), the longest-running science fiction television series in the world. The Middleman identifies himself and Wendy as Benton and Herriot: Sgt. Benton (John Levine) was a soldier with UNIT during the 1970s period of the show associated with the Third Doctor, and Zoe Herriot was a computer genius who traveled with the Second Doctor (and was played by actress Wendy Padbury). The NASA leader's name is Lethbridge-Stewart, a reference to Brigadier-General Alistair Lethbridge Stewart (Nicholas Courtney), the commander of the paramilitary organization known as UNIT. The "zygon-rated quarantine facility" refers to the Zygons, an alien race of shapeshifters who use a cybernetic dinosaur-creature to try and conquer the world and are opposed by the Fourth Doctor. Tyler attended McCrimmon College, a reference to Jamie McCrimmon (Frazer Hines), a Scottish Highlander and companion of the Second Doctor. The Perpugilliam Treaty refers to Perpugilliam (Peri) Brown (Nicola Bryant), a companion of the Sixth Doctor. One of the board members is named Sullivan, a reference to Dr. Harry Sullivan (Ian Marter), a companion to the Fourth Doctor.