Tuesday, August 26, 2008


'The Middleman' has proven to be a high-point for summer TV viewing here at Toobworld Central, and you should expect it to win a few prizes at this year's Toobits Awards. Sadly, unless there's some miracle - like the show moving to where it belonged in the first place, at Sci-Fi - it looks as though next week's episode will be its last. "One and Done" series make for a nice boxed set collection, but 'The Middleman' had the range for story ideas to carry it through several seasons.

It also seems to have an inexhaustible well of pop culture references, which could have been a headache for the Splainin Department here at TCi. (Not "Incorporated"; "Inebriated", perhaps?) But it's been fun trying to find them all, even if I fall far short (based on the wrap-ups to be found in the "MiddleBlog" on Live Journal).

There have been so many pop culture references within each episode that I could likely make it through to the end of the year tackling each one separately. But for today, I think a cluster of five from last night's episode ("The Clotharian Contamination Protocol") should be addressed together, as they all dealt with the same theme near and dear to my heart: 'Doctor Who'.

Generally, each episode of 'The Middleman' has a running theme in their pop culture references. And as the season progressed, some of them contained several. This episode was no exception, with the majority of shout-outs going to the movie "Die Hard" (which is still a movie only in Toobworld). But then there were these five references to 'Doctor Who':
- "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

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

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

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

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

Those descriptions came directly from the "MiddleBlog" today. (Spelling and punctuation are theirs.)

I only picked up on two - "Lethbridge-Stewart" and "the treaty of periperpegilliam". (Although I think they spelled the name wrong. Peri Brown's full name should be: Perpugilliam Brown. But maybe the writers changed it to get the intent but not be an exact replica.)

I might have picked up on the reference to McCrimmon College, but they speak so quickly on this show! I only heard "Crimmon" and my mind didn't work fast enough to think of any permutations before it was on to the next shout-out.


Let's start with that one first. McCrimmon College could be named after a descendant of Jamie McCrimmon. So, no Zonk there.

"The Treaty of Periperpegilliam"
If that's the way they want to spell it on the show, all the better for Toobworld. No Zonk.

"Commander Benton and Specialist Heriot"
Toobworld is filled with coincidence. There should be a Greek god of Coincidence! The Middleman organization uses so many fake I.D.s that this could have been just a random selection, with no special knowledge of the two characters from 'Doctor Who'. So long as the first names of "John" and "Zoe" weren't cited, there's no need to worry about the use of these monikers. No Zonk.

"zygon-rated quarantine facility"
The alien race of Zygons first came to Earth in the 12th Century. In the late 20th Century, those that survived from the crash-landing in Scotland attempted to take over the Earth in order to adapt it for their race. However, as recounted in the serial "Terror Of The Zygons", the Doctor and UNIT were able to crush their plans. Most of the Zygons perished when the Doctor triggered their ship's self-destruct mechanism, and their leader Broton was shot dead by the Brigadier later. However, it would appear from this reference that perhaps one or more of the Zygons survived and have been most likely kept locked away in some UNIT prison engineered for their incarceration. The quarantine facility at Middleman headquarter is probably based on that design. This would make the reference an actual link, so no Zonk, Zygon scum!

And finally, speaking of the Brigadier.....

"Mister Lethbridge-Stuart, if that is your name!"
I think it was. The spelling in the MiddleBlog could be in error, that it should be the same as that of Brigadier Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart. When it comes to what was presented to us within the reality of the TV Universe, we never saw the I.D. card for that agent from the NASA listening station. We only heard his name spoken by the Middleman.

I think Agent Lethbridge-Stewart could be an American cousin to the Brigadier, perhaps the grandson of an older brother who emigrated to the United States after World War II. I don't want to go too far back with the "theory of relateeveety" in this case, because I think their relationship would be close enough for the American to know of his great uncle once removed (or whatever) and his career in UNIT. And inspired by the heroics that he heard about, he followed the Brigadier's example and found his own career in NASA.

If that doesn't work for you, just think of "Lethbridge-Stewart" as merely a last name that's hardly unique in the TV Universe... like Smith, or Jones, or Tyler.....

And therefore.....? No Zonk, either way.

Toby O'B

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