Thursday, September 26, 2013

Spoiler Alert! Agents of SHIELD

After reading a ton of reviews online, I finally watched all of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD last night. I'd tried to watch it Tuesday when it came on initially, but the kids' school had it's Open House Tuesday night, and Hannah's math teacher ran a little long.  Bottom line, I didn't get home on Tuesday until well after eight o'clock at night, and as a result, I only caught the last half of the show.

So.  First thing I gotta say is that the show itself was about as good as I could've been expected. I mean, they had to introduce a ton of characters and the over-arching ideas of the show--and by the way, I'm surprised by how blatantly the show is essentially a redesign of Fringe--and that left only a little time in which to have an actual episode of TV.  You figure, that pilot was really a half-hour of what the kind of thing that the show will be once it gets going--a weird police procedural--along with twenty minutes of backstory and a little denouement setting up the characters going forward.  I'm a little surprised that there are now two shows that are essentially trying to run the Fringe model, especially considering that Fringe itself was hardly a ratings winner after the second season, but I'm not unhappy about that or anything.  I loved Fringe.  I just think it got a little weird for most of maintream America there after that first little bit had run its course. 

Anyway, I was also surprised me by how few of the reviewers seemed to understand what the show was doing.  For example, I saw several reviews that said that Agent Coulson's death in the Avengers movie was just brushed off--it totally wasn't--and that more to the point, they were surprised that the show itself was a one-and-done episode.  Apparently, they somehow expected the pilot to carry more than a single episode's worth of continuaty with it, setting up this massive arc.  And, I mean, hello?  They did about as much of that as you could possibly expect in a single episode pilot.

From here I have to say that if you don't want any spoilers, don't click through the jump. 'Cause I'm totally gonna give away at least one of the show's big secrets on the other side...

Mostly, though, I'm just surprised by the reviewers who thought that Coulson's death was given the brush-off.  What show were these guys watching?  I mean, "Tahiti?"  And, "He can never know the truth?"  Clearly the Coulson that we have in the show is a Life Model Decoy (LMD) who doesn't know that he's a LMD decoy, and that this fact is gonna be a major plot point going forward.
Life Model Decoys are a mainstay of
SHIELD comics.

How do we know that?  First off, this is a show that paid particular homage to the old SHIELD comic books in several ways.  Coulson's flying car Lola is a perfect example.  Those things are everywhere in the SHIELD comics, and they have been since at least the 1980s.  And you know what else is always in SHIELD comics?  LMDs that don't know they're LMDs.  That was a whole huge storyline with Nick Fury at some point in the last decade, and in fact, they used it again as recently as the first volume of The Secret Avengers back in, oh, 2010.

I'm just sayin', Life Model Decoy seems the obvious play here.

And then, too, we also saw elements of the shadowy villain group that is undoubtedly going to be the long-term big bad in this first episode.  Both their primary lietenant and their assassin got major screen-time at the end of the show, while the show itself was about one of their experiments gone wrong.  How does that translate into not setting up a larger story arc?

It's like most of the mainstream reviewers weren't even watching the same show.

Anyway, I didn't love every minute of the show.  But I certainly liked it, and I'm looking forward to seeing where it goes.  That's kind of the way these Joss Whedon shows tend to be--slow builds that take a little while to really hit their stride.  Given the initial ratings, I gather that we're gonna have time to see where this one goes this time around, though.


  1. I'm pleased that people are trying to take the Fringe model, and I think the reason why is because a lot of people wanted it to be a hit (which is why Fox was so patient with it), so that it had everything to be one, and just never was. For whatever reason, it never connected, but that never meant that its approach was wrong.

    1. Actually, when Fringe first aired, the show was a ratings hit. That was when it was on Wednesdays, with a lead-in from Bones. But then they moved it to Fridays, so that they could give that lead-in to other new shows, and it never recovered. Fewer people watch TV on Friday nights. However, its DVR and On Demand numbers were always good, it's just that people weren't watching the show ON FRIDAY because, well, who watches network TV on a Friday night?

      Anyway, DVR viewers aren't worth as much because they don't watch the ads, they can fast forward through them. The On Demand viewers ought to be worth as much (or even more) since you CAN'T skip the commercials using an On Demand service, but as yet, the Ad Industry hasn't caught up with the technology. That was one of the main things that caused the summer's spat between Cablevision and CBS.

      I also think Fringe got a little weird later in its run for the mainstream, but y'know, maybe the mainstream has moved since then.

    2. Thanks for bringing up those points.