The Middleman: The Complete Series 

2008

Like "The X-Files" filtered through a "Get Smart" sensibility, "The Middleman" feels every bit like the comic book from which it was birthed. Although short-lived, the single-season ABC Family series offered a good-natured dose of science fiction and the supernatural, all delivered an eye so winking, you can't help but wonder if a lash required extraction.

The title refers to the clean-scrubbed superhero (a game Matt Keeslar), who seems to be stuck in the 1950s, from his Brylcreem hairstyle to his outdated outbursts. Newcomer Natalie Morales is Wendy Watson, a former secretary recruited by him to help snuff out his specific brand of problems. These include "? to single out some choice episodes "? a terra cotta warrior, masked Mexican wrestlers (including guest star Mark Dacascos), sorority house ghosts, fish-eating zombies and aliens posing as a boy band. Did I mention the vampire puppet? What about Kevin Sorbo?

Sometimes, "Middleman" tries too hard, but at least it's committed to a purposely goofy, free-for-all tone. In other words, it's as close to a "Men in Black" live-action series as we're ever going to get. For those who like horrors served up with humor "? and lots of it "? this four-disc set may prove infectious. An amusing "Wilhelm scream" compilation shines among lots of extras "? would you expect anything less from Shout! Factory? "? but be sure to dig for the Easter egg. It's sheer elegance in its simplicity.

"?Rod Lott

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