The Middleman

Who is he? The Middleman. What does he do? He…middlemans. By that, of course, we mean he saves the world.

Or so he tells Wendy Watson, his soon to be apprentice, after she is nearly killed by a gross tentacle monster.

BOOM.

The Middleman is one of the greatest TV tragedies of all time. Fantastic premise, characters, actors and plotlines, it just didn’t’ get the amount of attention needed to keep it on the air. The Middleman was originally conceived by Javier Grillo-Marzuach, who wrote it in comic book form, then television, and then comic book form after it was discontinued by ABC family. The villains.

Middleman is about a shadowy organisation that employs the Middleman (name unknown, but holds a fondness for milk) and Wendy Watson, his new apprentice. Wendy (or Dub Dub, as she is affectionately known, struggling artist and quipper at large) is a fantastically sarcastic artist with a heart of a gold. Middleman follows the course of her career with the middleman organisation, under the guidance of her boss and Ida, a foul-mouthed robot (clad, as is only appropriate, in a floral dress and cat-eyeglasses).

The Middleman (ft. Milk)

Okay, Griffin, but why are you telling me to watch this show with only 12 episodes? The answer, dear reader, is because it is absolutely worth it.

The Middleman is like Captain America! (Only, without the gritty reboot aspect of the newer Marvel movies. Also, he can’t swear). Wendy Watson is a smart, level-headed woman character with great relationships with her best friends and boss. Legitimately a complete bad ass in every sense of the word.

I wasn't kidding. Also, she can fly fighter jets.

Lacey (Wendy’s roommate) Noser (Speaks only in song lyrics) Ida (aforementioned grumpy robot) and Tyler (cute, funny, male, can I say more? Yes, but I won’t) and others round out a great cast.

Middleman is full of zany plot lines (zombie fish infections! Vampire puppets! Gorilla mafia!) Every episode is jam packed full of quotable wise cracks and heart-felt moments. It’s a weird blend of comic book antics, utterly absurd characters, and very funny situations.

This is the Middleman fighting the Nacho Libre wrestlers who kidnapped Sensei Ping, for example.

So, if you like the following:

1. Actual platonic partners with a great mentorship relationship!

2. Villains with evil plans that are sheer elegance in their simplicity

3. Great characters

4. Wise cracks! Pop culture references! Quips!  Jests! Banter! Puns! Wit! Okay I’ll stop.

5. A love for anything nerdy (comic books, zombies, boy bands, sci-fi, aliens, monsters)

THEN THIS IS THE SHOW YOU SHOULD WATCH.

It’s only 12 episodes, but give it a try.

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Life After Life

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Blurb:

What if you could live again and again, until you got it right?

On a cold and snowy night in 1910, Ursula Todd is born, the third child of a wealthy English banker and his wife. She dies before she can draw her first breath. On that same cold and snowy night, Ursula Todd is born, lets out a lusty wail, and embarks upon a life that will be, to say the least, unusual. For as she grows, she also dies, repeatedly, in any number of ways. Ursula’s world is in turmoil, facing the unspeakable evil of the two greatest wars in history. What power and force can one woman exert over the fate of civilization — if only she has the chance?

Wildly inventive, darkly comic, startlingly poignant — this is Kate Atkinson at her absolute best.

Goodreads Score:3.74/5

Review:

I was somewhat disappointed by this book, to be honest. After hearing raving reviews from friends, and intrigued by the plot (time travel? WW2? Y’all know that’s my jam) I decided to pick up Atkinson’s latest work and give it a go.

It was…long. I don’t remember really enjoying anything about the book. I just remember thinking that I had to work my way through it, because there had to be a reason that everyone loved it so much. Now – don’t get me wrong. Atkinson is extremely gifted with the written word, and her lyrical prose is probably what kept me trying to read on. There are several chapters that were like honey to my eyes (which is a weird sentence) and I liked the recurring theme of the snowy night, but overall her book was lacking for me, plot wise. The end just had nothing to it, which was frustrating after such an impactful beginning. I felt like I had literally clawed my way through this (frequently depressing and confusing) story only to wind up even more frustrated. Because I am not ashamed to admit it. I just didn’t get the ending.

I thought that the biggest hang up for this book was the time travel element. The characters were all so fragmented (even the sister, who is ostensibly a main character) and I couldn’t get a feel for the main character. Likewise, some of Ursula’s lives were far too long, whilst others were too short. I felt like half the time I was reading something that could have been edited out and I would not have missed it. All in all, not a great thing for me to think while I’m reading a book.

Life After Life is simply an interesting idea that was poorly executed. While Atkinson’s lyrical prose definitely save this book, the dead characters and meandering chapters don’t help the floundering plot line.