The Middleman

Season 1 Episode 1

The Pilot Episode Sanction

Aired Monday 10:00 PM Jun 16, 2008 on ABC Family
out of 10
User Rating
171 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Pilot Episode Sanction
Wendy Watson is thrust into the middle of a science experiment gone wrong while temping at a laboratory. Fortunately for Wendy, The Middleman, a crime fighting comic-book-like superhero, shows up to save the day.

Impressed by how Wendy handles herself when faced with danger, and in need of a colleague, The Middleman recruits Wendy into his secret organisation.moreless

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  • One of the shows that you keep watching hoping that it will get better in time.

    The plot of the pilot episode was interesting, characters had a catchy dialogues, and from time to time it was really funny.

    But the real problem was that you could see that the actors are 'trying' to be funny. The scenes were textbook directed and not in a good way (you could actually imagine someone saying 'Action' at the beginning of the scenes). The whole show needs that 'final touch' because for now it look like good amateur work, not professional. I only hope that the actors will get more relaxed with the characters after few episodes, and that the plot will be good enough during the season.moreless
  • Different and silly. The Middleman shows promise.

    Expect a weird tentacle hentai monster, a mad scientist, Austin Powers vignette, and super intelligent gorilla mobsters in what I'd call a good but silly pilot.

    One of the major follies here and I suspect throughout the season is the micro machines chatter boxing dialog. Holy cow take a breath! Look at some of the quotes and imagine them said in one breath then imagine someone repeating it back that them. This would be something fun and geeky watch with someone who likes Austin Powers, Dead Like Me, or The Tick. I wasn't digging the roommate or the boyfriend. Weak love interests who are just cliches.moreless
  • It was entertaining.

    This show was actually not that bad. Although it did kinda go at a pace for a teen's show. If it weren't for the occasional swear wor or graphic comment, I would have guessed I was watching Nickelodeon. The actors are great, from the main ones right down to the guy who hangs outside Wendy's door. The plotline was alittle far stretched. I mean seriously, Gorilla's? Who ever wrote that was not in thier right mind. The show does go on to better plot lines and for that I'm truly happy. I will tune in for this show and maybe sometime down the rode it will be a favorite. For right now, it needs alittle more action. explosions would be extremly helpful.moreless
  • Cute and imitative, but, arguably, among the best summer TV fare, so far.

    Take a Janeane Garofalo look-act-sound alike, add a Goober-like mystery man, mix in some absurd and well-worn sci-fi plots and CGI effects, add liberal dashes from shows such as "Men in Black" (it was a made-for-TV cartoon series, too, ya know!), the thankfully-cancelled series "Special Unit 2", and even "The Avengers", along with quotes from just about every popular genre, and you have . . . well, I'm not really sure what it is, but, it was fairly palatable, if not original.

    Fortunately, this hodgepodge of everything under the sun manages to keep a brisk pace, which kept my interest long enough to want more, but, at the same time, my world will not stop revolving if it gets cut when the summer ends.

    So, by all means, check it out, but don't bother scheduling your life around it!moreless
  • Wendy Watson a.k.a. Dub-Dub, is a struggling artist out of college going from one temp job to the next. On one of her jobs a freak accident occurs with a tentacle beast. The Middleman appears. The Middleman convinces Wendy to become his partner.moreless

    The show seems cheesy, but it is not supposed to be taken seriously like other superhero shows that try too hard to push the drama. The characters are likable. Wendy Watson and the Middleman are very witty to each other's remarks. One particular trait is the Middleman's inept ability to curse, or his lack of cursing. It's a typical "good guys catching bad guys" show. It's a change of pace to see something light hearted that viewers can watch without complicated story lines and severe plot twists that would take viewers multiple episodes to catch up. The series looks very promising.moreless

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (2)

    • Trivia: The name of the Italian restaurant — Il Mutande Grandissimo — translates to "The Really Big Underpants".

    • The mob killer who is presumably one of Gibbs' "operatives" is clearly not a gorilla. The killer is much shorter and thinner. In the opening shootout the killer is wearing gloves but glimpses of human skin can be seen between the gloves and the cuffs. The DVD commentary notes that the director and creator deliberately kept it vague, to suggest it might been a human operative, but that doesn't account for the banana dropped at the scene of each crime.

  • QUOTES (17)

    • The Middleman: No more monologuing, or I'll Swiss-cheese you on principle.

    • The Middleman: So, what's it going to be: Keep the secret, or death?
      Wendy: What do you think?
      The Middleman: Ma'am, specificity is the soul of all good communication.
      Wendy: Yes. Duh.
      The Middleman: Outstanding. You're good under pressure.
      Wendy: Are you hitting on me?
      The Middleman: Just making an observation.
      Wendy: Hellooo, nutjob, party of one.
      The Middleman: No, Ma'am. I'm just The Middleman.

    • Wendy: Get a hold of yourself, man. What's easier to believe: a gorilla holding a gun or a big hairy guy doing a drive by?

    • The Middleman: I don't get it, why the mob?
      Dr. Gibbs: Money! Fast, tax-free cash money. This is a federally funded lab. Every year the government is less and less interested in making smarter apes and every year they slash my budget. Without money, I will never fulfill my dream.
      The Middleman: What dream?
      Dr. Gibbs: To build an army of genetically engineered super-apes...
      Dr. Gibbs/The Middleman: (together) ... and take over the world.

    • The Middleman: What makes more sense? That a monster trashed a science lab or that a gas main exploded? If I hadn't planted your Zippo some pink skin normal would have still come up with a rational explanation. People want to believe reality's normal. The ones who don't are freaks and no one believes them anyway.

    • The Middleman: Special Agent Watson, slacking off the dress code, I see.
      Wendy: Oh, I don't do dress code after sundown.
      The Middleman: It's bad apples like you that put Mr. Hoover in a dress.

    • Wendy: Thank you for calling A.N.D. Laboratories, rescrambling your DNA, how may I direct your call?

    • The Middleman: Tell the truth if you want, but if you do I'm going to have to root you like a hog and kill you.

    • Wendy: What kind of temp agency is this?
      Ida: (deadpan) The kind that wants to put you in the satisfying and high-paying world of temporary employment.

    • The Middleman: You know how in comic books there's all kinds of mad scientists and aliens and androids and monsters, and all of them either want to destroy or take over the world?
      Wendy: In comic books, sure.
      The Middleman: Well it really does work like that.
      Wendy: Get out.
      The Middleman: You already forgot what you saw?
      Wendy: And you're the superhero?
      The Middleman: I never wear tights.
      Wendy: I'm crushed.

    • Wendy: What's with the camera; are we making a movie?
      Ben: I guess you could say that.
      Wendy: Kinky? Should I bust out the feathered boa and the accordion?

    • Wendy: Well who do you work for?
      The Middleman: I got recruited, the exact same way you did. When the last Middleman hired me, he never said and I never asked. Ida was already there, so were all the weapons and gadgets and things. Sometimes a box comes in with more weapons and gadgets and things. I don't know where they come from; they just do. Maybe Ida runs the show, maybe it's the conspiracy. Maybe it's God. I'm just The Middleman.

    • Dr. Gibbs: This is Zippy. We had to boost his IQ three times to get him to stop painting those damn soup cans.
      Wendy: Not bad for a classical realist.
      Dr. Gibbs: Art snob.

    • The Middleman: (drinking milk) You know, that was some darn fine cow squirt.

    • Ben: I'm such a dolt. I thought that it would be art. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
      Wendy: So did the Carter administration.

    • The Middleman: (to Wendy after she cusses) You kiss your mother with that mouth, huh? Garbage mouth? Yes, you!

    • Wendy: You're not gonna stop calling me "Dubbie", are you?
      The Middleman: Not a gosh darn chance in heck!

  • NOTES (9)

    • The crew could afford only one gorilla suit. As such, Mike Starr plays all of the gorilla characters in the episode. During the laboratory sequence, as the camera pans through the lab, Starr portrays one gorilla, slips away once the cameras pass him, runs to the next station, and plays a different gorilla. The only time two gorillas appear is when they use a CGI gorilla doing Tai Chi.

    • The machinegun used is the actual gun used in Scarface (1983), from which much of Spanky's dialogue is taken directly.

    • Director Jeremiah S. Chechik worked on The Avengers (1999) and the inclusion of various references to the episode were asked for by series creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach. One such scene is the Middleman looking through a magnifying glass, his face itself magnified. It parallel a scene in the movie where Sean Connery's character is looking through a magnifying glass the same way. Another was the brief black-and-white sequence with the Middleman and Wendy (which took 14 minutes to shoot).

    • Stephen Sowan (Ben) originally read for the role of Noser. He failed to get the part and was cast as Wendy's girlfriend.

    • Series creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach can be seen twice in the episode. He's a scientist teaching a gorilla to read in the lab, and his face appears on the Omerta Rat poster in Spanky's private room. Comic book artist Les McClaine's picture appears in the Italian restaurant: it's the large photo hanging on the wall.

    • Mary Lynn Rajskub (Dr. Gibbs) is credited as a special guest star.

    • "The Pilot Episode Sanction" was made available on iTunes and Xbox Live prior to its ABC Family broadcast.

    • This episode is based on the first four-issue The Middleman mini-series released in 2005, consisting of "The Temporary Employment Sanction", "The Secret Recruitment Ultimatum", "The Experimental Simian Identity" and "The Primate Domination Factor". In July 2006 they were released as a trade paperback, The Trade Paperback Imperative.

    • Filming Location: Vancouver, Canada

  • ALLUSIONS (15)

    • Jolly Fats Wee Hawkins:
      The name of the temp agency references Cracking Up (1983), starring Jerry Lewis. The Jolly Fats Wee Hawkins airline agency is a low-budget carrier.

    • Dr. Gibbs: get him to stop painting those damn soup cans.
      Referencing Andy Warhol (1928-87), an American artist and prime mover of the pop art phenomena. He rose to fame in the 1960s with works such as Campbell's Soup Cans and other paintings of brand name products.

    • Spanky: Man has climbed Mt. Everest, gone to the bottom of the ocean. He's fired rockets to the moon, split the atom, achieved miracles in every field of human endeavor.

      Referencing Goldfinger (1964). Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) delivers the same line as he describes Operation Grand Slam.

    • The Middleman: Barry Allen or Wally West?

      Referencing two incarnations of The Flash, a comic book superhero.

      Barry Allen is the Silver Age Flash, first appearing in Showcase #4 (October 1956). The character was created by Gardner Fox, Carmine Infantino and Bob Kanigher. His nephew, Wally West, first appears in The Flash (vol. 1) #110 (December 1959–January 1960). Wally West was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. Both gained their powers of super speed by being doused with electrified chemicals. Wally started as Kid Flash but later took on the role of the Flash when Barry Allen died.

    • Wendy: Does Rosie have an off switch?

      Referencing Rosie the Robot Maid from the Hanna-Barbera cartoon The Jetsons (1962-1987). Like The Flintstones, the series featured a normal everyday family in a different timezone. George Jetson was the father with wife Jane, teenage daughter Judy, and younger boy genius Elroy.

    • Wendy: Cut out the twang, Gomer.

      Referencing the character Gomer Pyle, who first appeared in The Andy Griffith Show. A good-natured country boy and gas station attendant, played by actor Jim Nabors, the character was later spun off into his own successful series, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1964-69).

    • Spanky: Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.

      Referencing a line from The Godfather: Part III (1990) spoken by Don Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) and referring to his attempts to get free of the Mafia.

    • Wendy: Get your filthy paws off of me, you damn dirty ape!

      Parodying the line spoken by Charlton Heston in Planet of the Apes (1968). The dialogue is the first line spoken by his character, George Taylor, to the ruling apes after he is rendered temporarily mute by a gunshot wound to the throat.

    • The Middleman: Let her go, Blofeld.

      Referencing Ernst Stavro Blofeld, an evil mastermind created by Ian Fleming as a continuing villain to battle James Bond. He first appeared in the novel Thunderball (1961) and subsequently appeared in two further novels. He then went on to appear in six of the Bond movies, played by a different actor each time.

    • The Middleman: We stick Dr. Evil with a tranquilizer dart...

      Referencing the nemesis of Austin Powers of the Austin Powers movies, starting with Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) and two sequels. Dr. Evil, played by Mike Myers, is a parody of the James Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who is mentioned moments earlier. Specifically, Myers' Dr. Evil is a parody of Donald Pleasence's portrayal of Blofeld in the 1967 Bond movie You Only Live Twice.

    • Wendy: I was held at gunpoint by a gorilla while you did your Dudley Do-Right thing.

      Referencing the animated Canadian Mountie created for The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show (1959-64) and voiced by Bill Scott. Dudley was a somewhat clueless Mountie who battled the evil Snidely Whiplash and sought the romantic favors of Nell Fenwick. A live-action film was made in 1999.

    • Wendy: Oh no, it's Gorilla Grodd. Run for your life.

      Referencing the super-smart, super-strong, super-telepathic gorilla who first appeared in The Flash #106 and was created by John Broome and Carmine Infantino. Grodd is one of the primary foes of the Silver Age Flash, Barry Allen, who is mentioned earlier in the episode when The Middleman and Wendy discuss comic books.

    • Noser: Who's the man?
      Wendy: That would be Shaft, Noser.

      Referencing Shaft (1971), based on the novel by Ernest Tidyman and starring Richard Roundtree as John Shaft, black private investigator. The Oscar-winning "Theme from Shaft" was composed by Isaac Hayes.

    • Wendy: Can it, Yoda! We're talking!
      Referencing the character Yoda from the Star Wars franchise, a wise and powerful Jedi Master.

    • Spanky: Say hello to my little friend!

      Parodying the line spoken by Al Pacino's character Tony Montana in Brian De Palma's Scarface (1983), which was a remake of the 1932 movie of the same name. It also spawned two video games sequels in 2006 and 2007.