Running for a single season in 2008, this ABC Family production is a humorous pastiche of superheroics and Avengers-style adventure. Natalie Morales plays Wendy Watson, a struggling artist making ends meet as a temp. When she demonstrates incredible unflappability when a monster is unleashed at her current job, straight-arrow superhero the Middleman (Matt Keeslar) recruits her to join him in the fight against all sorts of bizarre menaces. A sampling of titles gives the flavour of the series: “The Boy-Band Superfan Interrogation,” “The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome,” “The Flying Fish Zombification.”
There is plenty of fun self-referential humour here, and the storylines are goofily inventive, so the show has cult potential written all over it. Its execution doesn’t quite have the zing, though, that would knock it into the category of comedy gold. Very likable, then, but a couple of beats away from hysterical.
Generally quite strong. In red-tinged scenes, the pixelation and grain can be pretty severe, though they are elsewhere under control. The colours are strong, as are the contrasts. The image is sharp, and is presented in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio. Nice viewing generally, then, though the grain comes back to haunt now and then.
The 5.1 sound delivers pretty consistently from all speakers, though the separation isn’t anything to write home about. The music pumps out with great energy. However, vocals emerge almost as strongly from the rear as they do from the front, to rather distracting effect.
Commentary tracks: Four of the episodes have them, with creator Javier Grillo-Marxuach present on all. He’s joined by director Jeremiah Chechik on the pilot; exec-producer Hans Beimler and stars Keeslar, Morales, Brit Morgan and Jake Smollett on “The Cursed Tuba Contingency;” writers Margaret Dunlap, Sarah Watson, Andy Reaser and Jordan Rosenberg on “The Clotharian Contamination Protocol;” and by Keeslar and Morales again on “The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome.” Grillo-Marxuach’s wit shines through in all cases, and the discussions are good fun.
Web Featurettes: (18:14) Five of them, adding up to a fairly standard behind-the-scenes promo.
Javi-Casts: (79:00) Grillo-Marxuach’s webcasts for each week, wherein he answers various questions about the series, always with an eye to both amuse and inform.
Gag Reel (7:40).
Alternate Scenes: (3:21) Two of them, the second being presented only in storyboard form.
Audition Footage: (12:00) For four of the cast members.
Opening Titles: Three versions.
The Wilhelm Scream: (4:47) A montage of every instance in the series where that famous sound effect is used.
“The Palindrome Reversal Palindrome” Table Read: (55:54) The cast sits around a table and reads the script. For the seriously obsessive only.
The Middleman-ager: (19:52) Sneak peaks of five of the episodes, introduced by a self-proclaimed ABC Family functionary. Strictly promotional and of limited interest.
PSAs: (2:00) Five of them.
“Scream Ur Love 4 Me” Video. (1:53) Its short length keeps the joke from outstaying its welcome.
Ralph King Photo Gallery: (14:34) A slideshow of behind-the-scenes shots.
An almost obscene amount of extras, some more interesting than others, back up a modestly fun series.