The main plot of last night's Middleman episode was only middling - I've seen similar storylines mocking boy-bands before - but all of the interactions between the characters, and the fizzy dialog, were funnier than ever. I honestly would watch The Middleman even if it was just a whole episode of Lacey and Wendy dealing with their problems, with "Sexy Boss Man" showing up occasionally. Click through for spoilers.
This episode had lots of fantastic scifi touches that I loved, especially the duck trapped in a space rift. The whole episode was worthwhile just for that one moment. And even though the alien dictators living on Earth as a boy band didn't quite live up to its potential, I liked the foul-mouthed teenage girl rebel sent to hunt them, and her bullied physics professor "dad" who had no clue what all her advanced tech was for. Any story about academics being lured into venality by the promise of tenure is always a win, as far as I'm concerned.
And really, the "Superfan" alien rebel teenager plot was just an excuse to have Ida in peril, making us all realize how much we've grown to love the cranky old robot. And any chance we get to see the Interrodroid back in action is a big plus. I love how it sort of looks like an old-school Cyberman.
But honestly, this was an episode where the alleged "B" plot really was the "A" plot... I struggled to care about the hole in space-time, when it wasn't trapping a poor helpless duck, but I was totally on the edge of my seat to find out how Wendy was going to deal with the plagiarizing evil Pip, the author of the worst slam poem in existence, "Hey Mr. God." He who copied her paintings and got a gallery show for them, and then threatened to have Wendy and her friends evicted from their illegal sublet if they blew the whistle.
And that really brought home one of the reasons why I love The Middleman more than similar shows about glib pretty people dealing with sciencey shit. It's a show about artists. The thing of Wendy and her friends being artists just out of art school isn't just a throw-away gag: it's a big part of the show. We're always seeing Wendy painting and talking about her creative process with Lacey and Noser (who's growing on me). And all of their wacky games and pastimes are sort of art-related, like that "name that stanza" game. I need to hear dialog like "Ginsberg's ass is mine!" more often. Really.
I was a little sad that Wendy didn't solve the plagiarism/eviction problem on her own. But I loved the way MM solved it. It was a lovely big of wish fulfillment. And I loved the random people wandering up to Wendy afterwards and confessing their random secrets. (What was Joe90's secret? I couldn't make it out.) And I loved the Middleman's searing hatred towards plagiarists - Sexy Boss Man is so right on!
Oh yeah, but most of all, I love Lacey. I love her "reap the whirlwind" fervor and T-shirt silk screening and stare of truth. And most of all, I love her dance to Varsity Fan Club.