Entertainment Weekly recommended that I watch it, so I did. Boy, was it a painful start. Stilted dialogue, blind acting. It sort of had the air of "Gee, I wonder if anyone will really buy this pilot." But slowly, things did pick up and get better. The setup or the plot doesn't really matter. The show is based on the comics of Javier Grillo-Marxuach and it's a kind of Men in Black must-stop-the-weird-stuff-and-protect-humanity action show. According to the Wiki article, the comic book series was intended to be a television series but got hijacked into a comic book series and is now a television series. On ABC Family. Makes sense to me. From the Wiki article I get the idea that Grillo-Marxuach wanted to cram in as much stuff as he could from every TV show and movie he ever liked. Okay, that's fun, until you trip on the zillionth cultural reference and you wonder, hey, where's the show? Is there a show?
What they did right was in the casting. Natalie Morales as Wendy Watson and Matt Keeslar as The Middleman are fun to watch and even have a bit of chemistry together. And boy, can Natalie deliver rapid-fire dialogue. But what's with the dialogue? You've got the rapid-fire delivery of a 30s screwball comedy with the inane content of a 60s adventure series like Batman. But what you don't have is the sophistication and wit of the 30s screwball comedy nor the languid, sultry rhythms of the 60s shows like The Avengers so it's like taking a bite out of a blueberry-arugula muffin.
The Middleman can get a lot worse or a lot better. I hope it gets a lot better. But it needs something more, something unique that has the potential to become a cultural reference of its own. Otherwise it's just a visual card catalog.
I think you can still watch the pilot at the ABC Family website.