Tuesday, October 1, 2013

On The Air: Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (2013)

Marvel Comics has been waiting a long time to get back into primetime.

Marvel was, in fact, involved with the syndicated series, Mutant X, a decade ago, and got three seasons out of that series. That, however, has become a distant memory, just like the comic book version, lost to the mists of time. The same shouldn't be said for the company's latest primetime effort, the first one to come from their own studio.

Marvel's Agents of SHIELD is meant, like the animated series, Avengers Assemble, airing on DisneyXD, to hold fans' attention until "Avengers: Age of Ultron" hits theatres in 2015, assuming the series lasts that long. So far, so good.

The primary mystery surrounds agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who had been killed by Loki in "Avengers" last year. There are hints about his "resurrection" in the opener, and if you're a comics fan from way back, like I am, you might have at least an idea of what co-executive producer/co-writer/director Joss Whedon has in mind. In the opener, Coulson's not the only one back from the movie. There's also Maria Hill (Cobie Smoulders, How I Met Your Mother), giving Coulson some grief. The case at hand, though, involves an ordinary joe, an unemployed factory worker (J. August Richards, ex-Angel), who was given super powers via the Extremis experiment (comics fans know what kind of crap that can be), and because of the nature of the Extremis' instabilities, he's become a clear & present danger. Not only that, but a hacktivist took his picture when he rescued a woman from a burning building, and is trying to recruit him for something called Rising Tide. However, the hacktivist is instead recruited by Coulson to join SHIELD, which means Rising Tide will be a recurring problem.

Whedon also called on another old friend, Ron Glass (ex-Firefly), to play a SHIELD scientist who knows a little something about the "resurrection" of Coulson, hoping that Coulson doesn't ever find out. Oh, really? The internet is buzzing with rumors that Samuel L. Jackson could reprise as Nick Fury in a cameo, as early as tonight's episode. Of course, Marvel's people ain't talking, but they want us to discuss at the water cooler in the morning.

Unfortunately, this show also counts among its executive producers, besides Whedon, the dreaded duo of Joe Quesada & Jeph Loeb, who have had a lead touch when it comes to Marvel's animated product of late, marketing the toons to the small fry and ignoring the older fans who actually make up a large chunk of the audience. Their short-sighted approach won't be a factor here, since they're not writers (Thank God!).

Genre fans feel Whedon used to own Tuesdays a decade ago with Buffy, The Vampire Slayer and its companion series, Angel. His TV output since then, a pair of Fox entries (Firefly & Dollhouse), were fan favorites of course, but ratings failures. Now, they're hoping that Whedon & SHIELD can take Tuesdays away from NCIS on CBS.

Marvel Entertainment's YouTube channel provides this trailer:

Rating: B+.

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