Thursday, December 19, 2013
Giving SHIELD A Shot!
The general consensus seems to be that Marvel Agents of SHIELD has been a bit underwhelming so far. I gathered up the episodes on the my DVR as they aired, and finally some days ago got around to watching most of them. I finished up last evening, completing the first half of this debut season. So far I've found this clutch of beautiful agents diverting and reasonably entertaining, but hardly compelling.
Joss Whedon's tried and true technique of glib dialogue among clever folks works well enough, though I generally grow tired of it by the end of an episode or two. Despite accents and quirks, all the characters end up sounding pretty much the same after a while.
Despite appearances there does seem to be some age variations in this one, with Agents Coulson, Ward, and May offering up experience of various levels to newbies Fitz, Simmons, and Skye. The latter is the real outsider in the group, a cyber-terrorist recruited out of the field by Coulson and an iconoclast who seeks a secret about her own origins, which (no surprise) have a lot to do with SHIELD.
Agent May, the ferocious fighter and resident enigma, is the agent who I find most fascinating so far. Damaged emotionally in previous missions, she is closed off from the others, often sitting alone piloting the totally awesome black VTOL plane which doubles as transport and headquarters for the team. She knows the costs of working as an agent, and it shows in everything she says and does.
Agent Ward is the handsome leading man type of the team, but despite some quirky moments here and there, I'd prefered he were blond and named Clay Quartermain. I miss that cheesy smile.
Fitz and Simmons are a duo, often referred to as "Fitz-Simmons" by the others, these twin geniuses supply the tech back up which any spy operation needs to operate effectively. They are often annoying, the most "Whedonseque" elements of the team. I don't find them credible yet as agents alas.
Coulson has proven to be the key mystery though. His apparent death and return were handled briskly at the beginning of the series, but recent developments suggest there was much more to Coulson's resurrection than we know at this time.
The show has been reasonable fun, and if it had been on a decade ago, I'm sure I'd be much more jazzed. But these days, my connections to the Marvel Universe have pretty much shriveled to catching the movies and reprints now and again. I don't even bother to see all of them in the theaters anymore (haven't yet seen Thor II, Iron Man III, or Amazing Spider-Man). But this TV show demonstrates if you feed it directly into my house and don't charge me more for it, I will spend some minutes engaged in it.
Some folks I guess are disappointed there's not more obvious Marvel touches in this series. I don't really miss that, but hope the series does develop its cast more, making them distinctive and more interesting as bad things keep happening to them. I don't want them untouched by events, but changed by them. That's good television and something only serial storytelling can do well.
I'm not exactly looking forward to the second half of the season, but I'm not exactly dreading it either.