Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season One Commentary

Posted: December 2, 2014 in Scifi, Television
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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As my time grows shorter on this mortal plane of existence, I have to be choosy with my time and effort to watch a tv series or movie. Like Thor’s Hammer, Meow Meow, the show/movie has to be worthy. When I saw the first episode of SHIELD, I was not overly impressed. However, the introduction of Extremis plot device, as seen from Iron Man 3, was enough to make this fan boy really happy. I continued to watch the show up till episode 5 “Girl in the Flower Dress” and pretty much quit watching the series. The much anticipated series pretty much fizzled right from the start. I hoped each episode would get better but it didn’t. I think what broke me was seeing “The Asset” episode where in one scene Coulson (Gregg) in suit and tie riding in a boat and stormin’ the beach with Agent Ward, who is properly dressed, for the rescue mission. The idea that Coulson would not change attire never made no sense to me except that maybe they were pressed for time during production and did not have a whole lot of time for costume changes. Nitpicky? Maybe. When an episode is good, you can forgive some logic but the episode is terrible and the “why are you doing this?” moments keep flooding out of my mouth and that you just have to do a double facepalm to quiet the frustration; you have to just quit.

In fairness, I thought about why I stopped watching the show. I think it has to do with a certain rhythm of the show or lack thereof. In the pilot episode, you need to have your cast of characters to be clear and distinct from each other.  We already know Agent Coulson as he has been established from the movies and now is the leader of his gang of SHIELDlings. The supporting cast, we have May (Wen) who has a mysterious past and a loner, Ward (Dalton) the take charge guy and loner, Fitz (De Caestecker) nerd and geek, Simmons (Henstridge) nerd and geek, and Skye (Bennett) nerd, geek and the outsider. I’m not faulting the actors but their portrayal on the small screen seemed flat. Yes, the show, I’m sure, will flesh out these characters or have a story to showcase their talents. Still, I failed to find anyone mildly interesting. Alas, we have hooks.

Hook #1. The reveal of the how Coulson was brought back to life was not going to be shown early in the series. You want this mystery to be revealed as slowly as you can over the course of the season and series. Hook # 2, this series ties into events from MCU which during this time was Thor 2 and Captain America 2. Hook 3, just like the X-Files which had the monster of the week or Smallville had the freak of the week, with Agents, their hook would be to investigate strange occurrences around the globe. With all these hooks something should stick; right?

Since there was little to no reveal on Coulson and having to rely on his, “Tahiti was a magical place” comments, this hook failed. I did not watch Thor 2 in the theater and by this time, I already quit the show well before the movie played. Hook # 2 failed. Lastly, the global investigation never took off as they all look like they were filmed on back lots of EPCOT (which reminded me of another terrible show – Fortune Hunter that actually filmed in EPCOT). Remember, Alias? That show was exciting partly because of the action but mostly because of the exotic locales. Agents failed to get me excited on any level and I simply could not commit. Arrow, on the same token, from day 1 showed me terrific action, terrific acting and the introduction of multiple storylines. Everything felt mapped out and planned deliberately because Agents wandered. The cameo appearance of Hill and Fury still didn’t help as they would not be anything more than a cameo. There was nothing for me to latch on to Agents. To sum it up, we had three major hooks that failed to grab my attention. I wanted to see A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer short but as a one hour show week to week. I wanted that sense of coolness, fun and be along for the ride but I wanted off.

Zoom to Captain America 2 being released in the theaters. The fall of SHIELD due to the secret infiltration of HYDRA was simply well executed for the MCU. Marvel spent years to put SHIELD in all of their movies with the big payoff in the Avengers movie. Now with Cap 2, that was all destroyed and with that, I started to hear about how well Agents picked up because what happened in the MCU happened in this series. Still, this was not enough for me to come back to watching or even having a colleague telling me to give it another try but what happened to change my mind? The Nerdist podcast with Clark Gregg.

I’ve been a fan of Chris Hardwick since the days of G4 and the Attack of the Show years ago. When G4 crumpled, Chris continued with The Nerdist Podcast. For the most part, this is not the typical podcast where you expect the same nerdyness as on Attack but rather a conversation between Chris and the guest and a discussion about what ever comes to mind. Some podcasts are heavier in tone like when Chris talked about the death of his dad with actor/comedian Jon Lovitz or hearing the passionate and nerdy John Favreau talk about his movie Chef, which I recommend, but for the most part, I enjoy listening to whatever is being said regardless of the guest.

A couple of weeks ago, I finally listened to Clark Gregg which was recorded back in May. He is the easy kind of guy that goes with the flow which makes me love this guy even more as he is genuine and humble. I listened to him about an incident he created about how those who left the show SHIELD were losers. He talk about how this came to be and how someone threw a comment towards him that got under Clark’s skin. As a result, the loser comment made its round in the ‘verse. Still, when I read about this incident, I didn’t really care because the show as it was no longer on my radar by that time. However, I really like hearing Clark’s side of the story. This led me to start to reading online about the show and to give me an clue as to why it failed. I looked on Wikipedia and came across something interesting.

Development

After The Walt Disney Company purchased Marvel Entertainment in 2009,[23] they announced that a Marvel Television division was being formed.[24][25] In the following months, various pilots based on comics from Marvel’s catalog went into development.[26][27] In July 2012, Marvel Television entered into discussions with ABC to make a new series set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, though at that point it was undecided what it would be. The series was described as “‘a kernel of an idea’ with a number of scenarios being explored, including a high-concept cop show.”[28] The next month, it was announced that Marvel’s The Avengersdirector Joss Whedon, creator of other popular television shows such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly, would be involved in the series’ development.[29]

via wikipedia

The line, “Kernel of an idea” explained pretty much why this series was failing. From July to August, from discussion to confirmation, in just one month is not enough time to plan out and execute a tv series in my opinion; it felt rushed. I decided to give Agents another try. “FZZT” episode was better with anything since the pilot. Simmons is given something to work with as she is infected with a alien virus from a Chitauri helmet. “The Hub” Fitz get paired with Ward and is allowed to shine for a bit. “The Well” takes place after the events from Thor 2 which I hate so there was nothing for me to be happy. “Repairs” was the typical freak/monster of the week which bombed. Now, from this moment on, Agents changed dramatically.

‘The Bridge” brings back Mike Peterson from the pilot who had Extremis and is now working for SHIELD. “The Magical Place” we get somewhere with the revival of Coulson from his death. “Seeds” didn’t do much for me as college boys and their tech toys try to control weather. “T.R.A.C.K.S.” is better than FZZT and pretty much anything else on Agents. This episode had the coolness and the fun factor I had been waiting for the show to produce. We are treated to a non linear storytelling and from multiple characters and restarting the story over and over again from their point of view. Every since character had finally been used to the benefit of this episode. We then move along to “T.A.H.I.T.I.” which continued on how Coulson was bought back from the dead and with an alien cliffhanger possible connection to the MCU. “Yes Men” shows Lady Sif searching for Lorelei. Meh, considering how much I wanted to see Jamie Alexander as Wonder Woman. This outing made Jamie less Wonder Woman and even lesser Xena. Still, there was the last 1/3 of the season that made a huge turnaround with: End of the Beginning, Turn, Turn, Turn, Providence, The Only Light in the Darkness, Nothing Personal, Ragtag, Beginning of the End. The Only Light in Darkness episode was another freak of the week which slowed the momentum of the season finale. Aside from Darkness, the remaining episodes were worthy of my time to watch. Things have moved at an incredible pace and while there was a moment toward the end of the finale episode that was a classic Coulson moment that I applauded with glee.

Am I completely in love with Agents? No. Do I want to continue with the show? Yes. The problem lies now that the show has to rely on itself to continue their momentum. I’m sure there will be a buildup towards Avengers 2 but that it still a bit away. In the coming weeks, I’ll be catching up on the first 1/2 of season two though I’m in no rush…yet.

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