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25 August 2008 @ 09:34
 
Today is Middleday! I am very super excited. See, going off the logline, tonight's ep looks as if it might be a bottle show. What is a bottle show, you may ask? A bottle show is an episode designed to save money by either shooting entirely on one set, or shooting entirely on the standing sets (on Middleman, the standing sets are Jolly Fats, Wendy's loft, and the hallway to Wendy's loft. Jake Smolett gives a megaawesome tour of the standing sets here. Any other sets that are constructed for an episode and only used once are generally called "swing sets" and they are built, and then taken apart afterwards, while the main sets remain standing).

Television series try to amortise their costs over the course of a series, budgeting more for openers and finales (especially in the first season, when they have to construct the standing sets). As a result, they do what they can to save up money for cool stuff like location shooting, complicated visual effects shots, extra days of production, and the occasional really big practical effect like an explosion. That's why once a year, you'll have an episode where Our Heroes are either trapped in a bank vault, or held hostage at gunpoint in their homes or place of business, and may also only feature their contracted cast with few or no other speaking parts. "Duet" in DS9 is an example of one of the best bottle shows ever, and featured extraordinary performances from the cast and particularly guest star Harris Yulan. RTD's "Midnight" on Doctor Who was as close to a bottle show as nuWho gets, and it turned out to be a fantastic claustrophobic one-act play (not unlike the very best types of audio plays) that had minimal scary rubber monsters, and Twilight Zone levels of paranoid and fear and human drama (and was shot in parallel with "Turn Left", much as SGA split the cast last season to shoot two eps in parallel on different sets at the same time).

I love bottle shows. Love them. They are my most favourite thing in the whole entire world, after sushi and dark chocolate covered candied orange peel. I love them better than pie. Like a fat kid loves cake. Like a man loves a woman. Like occasionally a man loves a man. I even love it platonically, without puppets. Because as part of their structure, they often involve characters spending a lot of time talking to each other. I know talking heads are supposed to be the kiss of death on television, but to me, any opportunity for character development and furthering characters relationships where it's not superfluous to the plot, but is in fact integral to the plot makes me GLEE.

Granted, if I am wrong, then ignore the practically-vibrating-out-of-my-skin-with-joy in this post, and just sit back and bask in the normal Monday Middleglee of OMG YAYS NEW EPSIODE YAYS.

P.S. also? TINY TINY ROBOTS!
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Ellen Fremedonellen_fremedon on 25th August 2008 15:05 (UTC)
Oh, I need to catch up on Middleman; I love bottle shows. (Um, except for "Midnight," which I confess I just found boring. But I love "The Edge of Destruction"! And "Duet." And "Three Men and Adina," which is probably one of the best hours of television ever made ever.)
An Overachiever of the Wrong Persuasion: Soccer - Geeky Aly Wagnerrhi_silverflame on 25th August 2008 15:09 (UTC)
This was a much more substantial squee post than my own. Mind if I link to it? :)
ljc: the middleman (!!!!)taraljc on 25th August 2008 15:24 (UTC)
Not a bit! Link away!
Lurky McLurklurk: a great bear winner is meionlylurkhere on 25th August 2008 15:23 (UTC)
Ooh, bottle shows. Does "Cause and Effect" in TNG count? 'Cos that's one of my favourite things ever.
ljc: the middleman (manservant neville)taraljc on 25th August 2008 15:48 (UTC)
absolutely! Also, "Journey to Babel" from TOS.
el-eye-double-z: MM - !!!!corellianjedi on 25th August 2008 15:26 (UTC)
I was just regular-Middleman-Monday excited. Now I'm like SUPER EXCITED. :D
ljc: the middleman (fights like a girl)taraljc on 25th August 2008 19:29 (UTC)
I am now singing "Die Hard in a building..." inside my head at work.
el-eye-double-z: MM - I have issues with authoritycorellianjedi on 25th August 2008 20:48 (UTC)
I am now (once again) lamenting my school's lack of ABC Family. I don't want to wait until tomorrow! (And now "Die Hard in a building" is stuck in my head, too.)
Mireille: Who - 1st Doctormireille719 on 25th August 2008 16:09 (UTC)
RTD's "Midnight" on Doctor Who" was as close to a bottle show as DW gets

Well, on the 2005 incarnation. The old show had "Edge of Destruction"/"Beyond the Sun," totally on the TARDIS and with no cast but the regulars. :)
ljc: the middleman (book)taraljc on 25th August 2008 16:28 (UTC)
is true--I have fixed now. Original Who was very much with the bottle shows, yes.
Sailor Romanacybertardis on 25th August 2008 17:52 (UTC)
Duet is probably the very best bottle episode of any series ever. It is just superlative, and coming in the first season of a series, even more so.

I have finally started catching up on Middleman. I rewatched the pilot, and the then the first couple of episodes. Loved the pilot to death all over again, but was rather put off by the first episode. I don't know, I found the switch from the more capable Wendy of the pilot (despite the hostage thing at the end) to whiney, angsty Wendy a bit jarring. However, Jeremiah Checkik saved the day in the Sensai Ping episode. :D Looking forward to getting fully caught up.

--sah
ljc: the middleman (bff4evah)taraljc on 25th August 2008 18:00 (UTC)
What I love in "Accidental Occidental" is the Wendy & Lacey friendship. Because it doesn't take shortcuts, and does explore the real challenges of their interactions. And I like how the ep addresses Wendy's need to balance her Middle-life with her Real-life, because the show walks that fine line so well over the course of the series thus far.

I love in particular how Wendy is determined to keep both lives, and how she wins the Middleman's respect for doing so, even when she fails (as in "Flying Fish"). It's that her friendships and relationships mean so much to her, and she fights so hard, even when she can't make it work, the fact that she tries is what he finds admirable, and I think is almost wistfully envious of, in his lonliness.

What I love about Wnedy most I think is her ability to accept when she's wrong, learn from hwr mistakes, adn never repeat them. And also how loyal and caring she is. Her compassion is what mkes me adore he so much--that and she's an awesome kickass Clever Girl.

Edited at 2008-08-25 18:02 (UTC)
Sailor Romanacybertardis on 25th August 2008 18:21 (UTC)
Yeah, I didn't get nearly as much out of "Accidental Occidental." lol

I did, however, start to see everything you mention in subsequent episodes, which I liked better than that second one. I'll have to take another look at it after I've finished catching up on the series.
Stephanie: the middleman tieteffy on 25th August 2008 17:58 (UTC)
Oh, bottle shows how I love them. And let's not confuse the beauty of bottle shows with the horrible, stinkyness that are CLIP SHOWS. God, I hate that. You know, where they take the awesome concept of a bottle show and then decide, Hey! While they're trapped in here, why don't we have them flashback on everything that has ever happened ever!
ljc: the middleman (wendy is pretteh)taraljc on 25th August 2008 18:08 (UTC)
Clips shows can work, tho, when you tweak the formula. For every 10 "Shades of Grey" (if I never hear the worlds "Data, something's got me!" ever again, it will be too soon), there's at least one "200" (where SG-1 they mix existing clips with fake newly-filmed clips.).

My fave clip show is still Due South's "Flashback", because of the amnesia story-dice.
Stephanie: the middleman wendy is bendyteffy on 25th August 2008 18:12 (UTC)
Yeah. Or a clip show that's like say, hosted by Jeffrey Dean Morgan a la Grey's Anatomy. I'll take that one any day. :)
Sailor Romanacybertardis on 25th August 2008 18:17 (UTC)
And lets not forget "The Xena Scrolls" which I'm convinced started life as a clip show and ended up taking on a complete life of its own. :D

--sah
An Overachiever of the Wrong Persuasion: XWP - Janice Covingtonrhi_silverflame on 25th August 2008 18:41 (UTC)
. . . oh, The Xena Scrolls.

*wistful sigh*
"Bumblebee, stop lubricating the man.": MM Opinion Quotefaithfulpuppy85 on 25th August 2008 18:24 (UTC)
*giggles* You know I could totally see the Middleman reading and enjoying Winnie the Pooh and Cat in the Hat.
ljc: the middleman (mm)taraljc on 26th August 2008 00:35 (UTC)
Personally, I can see him kicking back with the complete works of Ruyard Kipling, and a nice mug of chocolate in the evenings. After, you know, 200 sit-ups and running a few obstacle courses.

Also, I bet he irons his jeans.
"Bumblebee, stop lubricating the man.": SG AoT Cam OMGfaithfulpuppy85 on 26th August 2008 03:13 (UTC)
I love that man. *giggles* the hair threw me the first time i watched it. He totally doesn't look like the same guy who played Feyd in the Skiffy Dune miniseries
bristabrista on 25th August 2008 22:28 (UTC)
I've never heard of the term 'bottle show' but I'm wondering how it will work for TMM since, you know, most of the show involves other galaxies and evil laboratories and the underworld. I'm totally interested in the 'characters talking to each other' part, since the dialogue is pretty great.
ljc: the middleman (plot coffee)taraljc on 26th August 2008 00:33 (UTC)
There can still be Evil From Other Galaxies. Just low-budget evil.
Cheesehead in Paradise: Hugfinabair on 25th August 2008 23:28 (UTC)
I have been obsessing just a wee bit lately.

I am now obsessing MORE. Thank you so much. ;-)
ljc: the middleman (bff4evah)taraljc on 26th August 2008 00:38 (UTC)
YAYS!