We’ve suspected it for awhile but the cancellation’s now official. ABC Family’s freshman series, The Middleman, won’t be back for a second year. As a network spokesperson tells PopWrap, “ABC Family has decided not to renew the series for a second season.” Fortunately for fans, the story’s not over just yet. The characters are returning to their roots.
Based on the graphic novels by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and Les McClaine, The Middleman centers around a young artist, Wendy Watson (Natalie Morales), who is struggling to stay afloat. She lives with her best friend Lacey (Brit Morgan) in an illegal sublet apartment and goes from one short-term job to another. While temping at a lab, Wendy’s life is thrown into turmoil when a science experiment goes wrong. She’s saved by The Middleman (Matt Keeslar), a handsome hero who recruits her as his assistant. Fighting outrageous villains, he needs all the help he can get — even from his annoying robot helper, Ida (Mary Pat Gleason). Other characters are played by Jake Smollett, Brendan Hines, Drew Tyler Bell and Sean Davis.
Middleman debuted on June 16, 2008 on ABC Family. Though the show quickly developed a devoted following, viewership wasn’t very big by network standards and didn’t even reach a million weekly viewers.
Though 13 episodes were initially ordered, only 12 ended up being made — because of the low ratings. The producers agreed to cut the 13th episode and a portion of that money was put into making the 12th installment, about an alternate universe, even bigger.
Grillo-Marxuach talked about the situation on his blog and wrote “We are a fantastically well-reviewed series that the network loves and supports. ABC family is the one place that allowed us to do this show in all of its quirky glory, and in spite of the ratings, they continue to tell me “don’t change a thing. and about those ratings? well…while improving incrementally, they have not been stellar, so we — and by ‘we,’ i mean the network and myself — have made the decision to make and air a twelve episode first season of the middleman. it is a decision that allows us to conclude our first season on a great creative note, and to pool our resources to make our season finale the best and biggest it can be.”
By November, the co-creator expressed doubts that ABC Family would be ordering any new episodes, at least in the immediate future. The network refused to concede that the show was over and maintained they were looking for some way to continue the series.
ABC Family has now confirmed that the show has been officially cancelled. But, the story isn’t over just yet. In a deal with Viper Comics (publisher of the original graphic novels), a special Middleman comic book will be released in July, just in time for the San Diego’s Comic Con.
Based on the unfilmed 13th episode (series finale), The Middleman – The Doomsday Armageddon Apocalypse graphic novel will be written by co-creator/executive producer Grillo-Marxuach and Hans Beimler. It’ll be illustrated by Armando M. Zanker and co-creator/executive producer McClaine. If they stick to the original script, we’ll find out how Middleman developed his old-fashioned, upright persona.
The Middleman DVD set will also be released in July and will be chock full of extensive bonus materials. Grillo-Marxuach has hopes that a successful disc release will mean the show might continue in some way. “As was the case with shows like Firefly, and Family Guy, the sales of the DVD will truly be the barometer for the future of The Middleman.”