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Joe 90


ABC Family has a new series called "The Middleman". It is lots of fun (think Men in Black, Buckaroo Banzai, the in-jokes of 'Spaced', etc for the younger crowd).

One of the (tons of) great in-jokes is a recurring character named Joe 90. :)


To give you an idea how full of in-jokes are in this show, here is a post listing some of the "pop culture references...for episode 1011 "the clotharian contamination protocol."

- "that 'saved by the bell' episode where no one would tell jessie how bad her music really was and she had a caffeine pill freakout" - there is indeed an episode of 'saved by the bell' where jessie's music career becomes so hectic that she develops an addiction to caffeine pills...but there never really was a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the quality of her music and the caffeine pill freakout...we took a bit of poetic license there because, hey, her music really did suck. consider it our version of fanwanking

- "live at budokan" - homage by namecheck to the classic cheap trick live album

- manservant neville - in the middleman graphic novels, manservant neville is chief henchman to kanimang kang, the blofeld-like leader of F.A.T.B.O.Y. (the Federated Agents of Tyranny, Betrayal and Oppression's Yoke). in the series continuity, manservant neville is the steve jobs-like president and CEO of Fatboy Industries - a corporation not unlike acme in the warner brothers cartoons

- in the middleman graphic novels, manservant neville's appearance was based on actor mark sheppard, who is cast in the role in the series. none of this is surprising since he is a supremely gifted actor and a friend of javi's (he's appeared on javi-scripted episodes of "the chronicle" and "jake 2.0" and has a recurring role on the "medium")

- "pan galactic gargle blaster" - homage by namecheck to "the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy"

- "the return of bruno" - homage by namecheck to bruce willis's album of the same name

- the "uMaster" first appeared in javier grillo-marxuach's play "scum of the earth" (which received its only performance in 1989), there, as here, the uMaster was a plain white cube

- "it seems to have an invisible touch, yeah" - homage by quote to the genesis single and album of the same name

- "forget it, lacey, it's chinatown" - homage by quote to the roman polanski film

- "commander benton and specialist heriot" - homage by namecheck to sgt. benton of UNIT, companion to the second and third regenerations of doctor who and to zoe herriott, companion to the second doctor

- "apple dumpling gang" - homage by namecheck to the don knotts disney film of the same name

- the reference to the space probe developing intelligence and returning to earth to judge its makers is a reference to the plot of the star trek episode "the changeling" and to the storyline of "star trek: the motion picture," both of which featured terran probes returning to judge their masters and finding them wanting - with the probe in "the motion picture" being the fictional "voyager 6"

- "mister lethbridge-stuart, if that is your name!" - homage by namecheck to brigadier lethbridge stuart, companion to the third and fourth doctor who

- "bono, buddha and the wizard of oz" - paraphrase of a line from the xtc song "merely a man" from the album "oranges and lemons"

- "gucci gulch" - refers to the book "showdown at gucci gulch," the scintillating tale of the 1986 tax reform bill, which was required reading for "decision making in american political institutions," one of the freshman core courses taken by javi during his tenure at carnegie-mellon university

- "zygon-rated quarantine facility" - homage by namecheck to the alien race first encountered by the fourth doctor who

- clothar - the alien race first seen in episode 1006 "the boyband superfan interrogation" is a sly homage to comics columnist and longtime middleman supporter greg burgas, whose email address includes the word "clothar"

- the text seen in the clotharian pod is a public-domain variant of the aurebesh alphabet, best known as the graphic representation of the galactic basic language in the star wars universe

- "it's what you get for being made out of meat" - shout-out to the terry bisson story "they're made out of meat"

- "rid of that not-so-fresh-feeling?" - homage to the tagline from the massengil douche commercials of the eighties

- "silkwood shower" - reference to the harrowing radiation cleanup seen in the meryl streep film "silkwood"

- "we've been jack travened!" - reference to a plot point in the film "speed" in which hero cop jack traven fools the bad guy's surveillance with a clever video loop

- "the nakatomi protocol" - the first of MANY homages to "die hard" in this episode - in a further driving home of the theme, the keypad chimes with beethoven's ode to joy, the central musical conceit of "die hard"...the reason for the constant name-checking of "die hard" in this episode is that, eventually, in the course of every tv series, the producers are forced to do an episode that takes place primarily in the standing sets in order to save money: as a result, almost every series, especially sci-fi shows, have resorted to doing some variation of "die hard" in which a hostile force of some kind causes the standing sets to be taken over and locked down, forcing the heroes to do battle on their own turf, rather than be coy about it, we figured we'd point out the similarity at every turn

- "come out to the coast, we'll have a few laughs" - homage by quote (and lucky lighter use) to john mcclaine in "die hard"

- "great, hans grubered with our own robot" - homage to the villain from "die hard," which, by the way, was an homage to the villain from "our man flint," also named "hans gruber"

- the strangulation by clothes hanger is an homage to the scene in "the godfather part two" in which michael corleone's bodyguard strangles johnny ola with a clotheshanger

- "great, it's "die hard" in a building" - something that was actually said to javi in a story meeting for another show during the breaking of the obligatory bottle show (by an executive producer who should have known better)

- "now i have a machine gun - ho-ho-ho" - quote from "die hard"

- "mccrimmon college" - homage by namecheck to another one of the second doctor who's companions

- "high aldwin" - originally seen in episode 1006 "the boyband superfan interrogation," high aldwin's name is an homage to the character played by billy barty in the film "willow"..."maximum aldwin" is not an homage, we just thought it was funny

- "you sound like graham chapman..." - homage by namecheck to the late, lamented member of monty python

- "the treaty of periperpegilliam" - homage by namecheck to another doctor who character, this one a companion to the fifth and sixth doctor

- "yippi-kay-yay [BLEEP!]" - another homage to "die hard" if you watch closely, you will also notice that the black box covering high aldwin's mouth is part of the holographic projection...either the middleman's or the clotharian holo-system has a built-in censor

- "now i know what a tv dinner feels like" - quote from "die hard"

- "fantastic voyage" - namecheck of the 1960's microsurery movie

- "die hard inside an android" - is a screenwriter's joke referring to the glut of films that followed "die hard," all of which were pitched as "die hard in a -" "under siege" (die hard in a battleship) or "air force one" (die hard in air force one) or "toy soldiers" (die hard in a military school) or "executive decision" (die hard in a passenger plane) or "sudden death" (die hard in an arena) or "speed" (die hard in a bus) or "speed 2" (die hard in a cruise ship)

- "like oompa-loompas with power tools!" - homage to the characters in "willy wonka"

- "kiss my asimov" - shout out to the science fiction writer who developed the laws of robotics quoted by the middleman earlier in this scene

- "welcome to the party, ida" - paraphrase of a quote from "die hard"

- "nanobot apocalypse now" - shout out to the francis ford coppola film

- "today john wayne doesn't get to ride off into the sunset with grace kelly"

- yet another quote from "die hard"

- the "ode to joy" is reprised again briefly when the pneumatic tube chamber opens, echoing the opening of the nakatomi corporation vault in...wait for it..."die hard!"

- "tyler beat" - shout out to the teen magazine "tiger beat"