Here is why you create a TV show: To have prop and special effect guys build all the crazy ideas that spill out of your computer. And if you’re like Javier Grillo-Marxuach, creator of the cult TV script-turned-comic-turned-ABC Family series-turned comic again The Middleman, you make sure you get to keep as much of it as possible.
Grillo-Marxuach recently reunited with Middleman star Natalie Morales for a music video of Admiral Radley’s “Ghosts of Syllables” and will host a Middleman reunion at c2e2 this weekend.
When we visited Los Angeles recently, he was gracious enough to welcome us into his home to show his many Middleman memories. We’re not going to lie to you: It was awesome. Here’s some of what we got to see:
Fighting evil Middleman-style required a lot of ray guns, ranging from small scale to the large black one in the upper part of this photo. Though that one was used in many of the show’s promos, Grillo-Marxuach says that a smaller one was needed on screen because “Matt Keeslar (The Middleman) has biceps the size of my leg, and that thing was so heavy that he could only hold it up for a few seconds.”
We tried holding it, and he spoke the truth. Remember: Big guns are cool, but not having a hernia is cooler.
Some of the other cool things in that photo include Tyler’s parrot from the Booty Chest (seen on Grillo-Marxuach’s shoulder in our next photo), Vegan Boogeys from Fatboy Industries (see next photo), and the belt Wendy wore in “The Obsolescent Crogenic Meltdown” that was a deliberate homage to Ursula Andress in Dr. No. Grillo-Marxuach was not sure there was an actual knife in there…there was, and it was real. Versimilitude!
Grillo-Marxuach also kept the “Booty Chest” shirt Lacey (Brit Morgan) wore, which…well, we’re very shallow here.
On a less prurient note, there were also a number of other restaurant-related props, including Grillo-Marxuach’s favorite, mole stains from “The Sino-Mexican Revelation.” “Apparently, you can’t have mole under hot studio lights,” says Grillo-Marxuach, who adds that making said mole is more expensive than you’d think. For similar reasons, they needed some silicone banana peels for the gangster gorilla in “The Pilot Episode Sanction.”
But that’s just a lead-in to the really, really, really cool SF stuff.
Say you want the truth out of someone? Grillo-Marxuach kept not only the Truth Bombs from the show (which, he says, were designed to look like the thermal detonator from Return of the Jedi), but the working box they’re kept in and the instruction manuals. Inside, apparently, they’re just booklets from a union. And the Truth Bombs still light up. That’s quality Truth Bomb manufacturing right there.
How about the world-conquering YouMaster from Fatboy Industries? The goggles Ida was wearing in the pilot? Or a super-sized version of Wendy’s dad’s lighter? “We made several of those, but we needed a big one for close-ups,” Grillo-Marxuach says.
But what’s that thing with the air tank in the background. Well, it’s part of Grillo-Marxuach’s favorite prop…
That’s right, it’s the zombie fish from “The Flying Fish Zombification.” This is a working puppet made by the prop people; you can actually put your hand inside and operate the mouth. “It’s made from silicone, so it doesn’t melt easily,” says Grillo-Marxuach.
And there’s even the fish inside the “reverse diving bell” used to take it back to headquarters.
“This is why TV is great,” says Grillo-Marxuach.
What else did we see? Well, check this out: There’s a ton of ID cards for Fatboy Industries (and its evil parallel universe counterpart), a can of !!!! Soda, and the HEYDAR is in Grillo-Marxuach’s garage, along with the special rum drunk by Kevin Sorbo’s Guy Goddard in “The Obsolescent Cryogenic Meltdown.” It’s named “Commander Jamaica” after the proposed title to Dr. No. The geek-fu is strong in this one.
All this, plus Einstein’s brain in the living room, a time machine on the bookshelf (made from an Italian bread box), and much more. “I need to clean house soon,” says Grillo-Marxuach.
Sadly, there was no vampire Dracula puppet or the cursed tuba from the Titanic. But how much more do you want?
Anyway, this all taught us a valuable lesson: If you want cool stuff, create an original movie or TV show and get a bunch of guys to make stuff for you. The best part is, you’ll even get paid to do it…after a while, maybe, possibly.
And that’s one to grow on. MIDDLEMAN!
The Middleman cast reunites Saturday, March 19 at c2e2 from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at c2e2. Speakers include Matt Keeslar, Natalie Morales, Brit Morgan, Mary Pat Gleason, Javier Grillo, Jake Smollett and Mark Sheppard. For more information, visit www.c2e2.com.