A new TV show from Lost writer/producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach promises action and freaky goodness. The supervillains in The Middleman include vampire ventriloquist dummies, plastic surgery victim aliens, and an evil Gorilla. In a conference call, Grillo-Marxuach talked up the ABC Family series, which debuts June 16, and gave more details behind the characters and storylines — including ABC's weird relationship with the chimps' best friend.
Javier says Middleman has "a combination of weirdness and earnestness." According to the producer,"The show is very unabashed, it's very much what it is, and the characters don't apologize for being who they are. And they talk the way they talk because that's they way I would like them to be. So the show is really about those two qualities: the weirdness and the earnestness. And if I were to throw in a third one, it would be optimism. I think it's so different from a lot other science fiction shows today because it is so light hearted."
He didn't make many changes from his original comic-book version, but the character Wendy is updated from her previous "Gen X" attitude to a more politically motivated character, which he feels is more representative to kids of today. "When ABC bought the pilot, they really wanted the characters to have more of a millennium sensibility... The biggest change is in that the character of Lacey was always a big confrontational spoken-word performance artist, she was always someone who was going to take up causes, but [now] we really focused on her political agenda. And her art is art that is politically active and it's about environmental causes. That came from the network, the network wanted Lacey to be engaged that way. That's a huge change, it's really the only character adjustment."
The other changes were mainly due to budget. The apes in the comic book were originally chimps," Javier says. "First of all ABC will not use chimps in any of their programming because they have a relationship with Jane Goodall and it was important that we portray the apes with dignity." CGI monkeys were not a possibility, so they ended up changing all of the chimps into one bad Gorilla whose hideout is in a strip club.
Another tidbit they had to lose was the character Noser's song lyric shout outs. Throughout the comic, Noser sits in the hallway and talks in music lyrics to Wendy. Buying the rights to all of those songs? Not so much in the budget. So his role has actually been filled out, and his character could be more involved. Another interesting change that came from the higher ups was in main character Wendy: ABC wanted to make her Latino. Still Javier says that 75%-85% of the show is straight from the comic book.
What can we look forward to in this series? Wendy and friends are going to have to fight fish zombies, fashion model succubus, aliens and "butt monsters." Who doesn't love butt monsters?