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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.

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.

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.