Rants tag

Rants, ruminations, and rambling remarks from my mad, muddled, meandering mind.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Coulson Lives!! A Review of Agents of SHIELD

Like millions of Americans—and a few Canadians—I watched the premier Agents of SHIELD last night. The eagerly anticipated Network TV follow-up to Joss Whedon's The Avengers had big shoes to fill. I don't normally watch network television anymore, too much MMO gaming to be done. But anything from Mutant Enemy is worth having a look-see.
Seeing the show "live" reminded me of a few annoyances about TV that I had sorta forgotten. Like the commercials. Now, I do watch a few shows over Scooterz' shoulder, usually on Hulu. Hulu has a single commercial during normal breaks in the show. Most are unobtrusive. There was this one commercial on ABC last night. I don't even know what it was for; but the most annoying sound came out of my TV for about 30 seconds. I think it may have been music. I must be getting old.

The show itself was pretty good. Without going into too much detail here, after a brief action-packed teaser, the various major characters were introduced, including what had appeared in the previews to be the epic reappearance of Agent Coulson, who had supposedly been killed by Loki immediately prior to "The Battle of New York" in The Avengers. (Not a spoiler, unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past 6 months.) True to form, Joss, knowing that the preview would include the epic "Welcome to Level 7," turned it into a humorous moment. My office mate thought that bit was a little forced, but I found it amusing.
The characters seem a bit stock—company man, rebel hacker, Asian badass, "twin" lab geniuses—but then so were the characters on Firefly—at least on paper. But Whedon has a talent for fleshing out trope characters, so I am sure these will be no exception. Several have secrets and/or troubled pasts that I am sure we'll get glimpses of in future episodes. And it fits here, since SHIELD is a quasi-spy agency.

I am interested and a little troubled with the way Coulson will develop as a character. As essentially a glorified extra in Iron Man, Coulson was a typically unflappable "Agent," played pitch perfect by Clark Gregg. This seems to be Gregg's talent: unflappable deadpan (cf The New Adventures of Old Christine). Not that he's not capable of anything else. On the contrary I think Gregg is an excellent actor. But as the leader of this team, Coulson the character will need to change and become more passionate (something we did catch a glimpse of in this premier). I'm thinking Hotchner from Criminal Minds. The big question will how passionate can he get and still BE Coulson.
The only other regular that really got some character development was Skye, the hacker/recruit played by Chloe Bennet. In many ways, she's the audience stand-in. And I look forward to seeing more of her.

It was pretty good, but the many of special effects don't hold up in HD. It's hard to transition the feel of the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the smaller screen (and budget) of episodic television. Honestly, it felt a lot more like Heroes. I just hope Mutant Enemy can keep the show from becoming the mess that Heroes ended up being.
Overall, I liked it. But I'll be watching on Hulu henceforth. Long commercial breaks are too irritating.


  1. I'm in the Mountain Time Zone, so I was able to download a torrent of the episode and have it ready to watch a few minutes before it was going to air here since it was already broadcast earlier on the east coast. And as a result I got to watch it commercial free.

    Hulu is tending toward 3 commercials per break anymore. They still usually keep it to 60 seconds or less, but last weekend I was watching something and they did a full 120 second break in there. I noticed this last fall also, but then after a while it went back down to 30 seconds per break, either a single spot, or 2 short spots, but the length of time has been climbing again.

    1. I hadn't noticed the increase in commercial time on Hulu, but then I'm usually only half paying attention at best. I tend to spend time soloing in MMOs or surfing the web while Scooterz watches stuff.