Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D 1×18 in 60 seconds (spoilers)

April 18, 2014

Coulson: “S.H.I.E.L.D lives! and I’m a badass.”

Talbot: “Not if my mustache has anything to say about that.”

Coulson: “Follow me, to the magic school bus! But only if we can bring Lola along. I’m a badass.”

May: “Give me your weapon, you psycho. I’m only doing what Fury told me to, you’re doing what you think Fury’s telling you to do. We don’t have the budget for another cameo anyway. And while on that, here’s a somewhat forced twist which will allow us to phase him out of this specific plot line.”

Coulson: “This thing can fly without you, and I don’t trust you anymore anyway. Why are you here again? I’m a bad-ass.”

Garret: “Muahahaha!”

Ward: “Muahahaha!”

Raina: “But you’re a deeper character than that.”

Ward: “There’s some potential for that. But for now: Muahahaha!”

(HYDRA takes over the fridge. Where are Spielberg and Lucas when you really need them to nuke something).

Fitz: “Jemma, I want things to stay the same between u-”

Simmons: “You’re cute, but, um, Triplet.”

Coulson-with-a-cold: “Why did I drag all of you here? And why is it always less than 40 minutes before I get un-badassed?”

The Team and Koenig: “Badges, Badges, Badges, Badges, Lanyard, Lanyard!”

Quinn: “I can’t believe I’m the surprising continuity twist in the final scene!”

Garret: “Think again. Muahahahaha!”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Rearranged from my comments in Hebrew here.

The episode itself wasn’t bad. A little too much dialogue, but also a reasonable amount of plot lines paying off.

I’ve mentioned before how Coulson’s uncertainty bugs me,  but this goes beyond a simple inconsistency and into the territory of an un-relatable lead. Sure, Angel had his fragile moments and Mal was sometimes a comic relief, but with Coulson it’s done way to often to be effective.

Thoughts on AOS 1×17 (spoilers for Captain America 2 as well)

April 18, 2014

Rearranged from my comments in Hebrew here. Without a doubt the show’s best episode so far, mainly because of the pace and the plot twists rather than due to the movie crossover event or the previous episodes. Some of those twists could have been spread across earlier episodes – such as the fact that the team was assembled as a support structure for Coulson. This could be revealed without exposing May, and it is a much more potent plot element than the Tahiti-related anti climaxes.

In many ways the show and the film are in separate universes – for instance, no mention was made in the film of the S.H.I.E.L.D levels, an element effectively used by the episode to demonstrate exactly how deep was HYDRA’s takeover of S.H.I.E.L.D. It is true that much of the fun in the movie came from being part of the Marvel universe, but specifically the link to the show isn’t very apparent. This could’ve been true for the show – they could’ve just as easily not create a link between the clairvoyant and HYDRA. Once they did, however, It was interesting to see how HYDRA’s takeover would affect the show, and the effect was well executed – maybe even better than how it was done in the film. I mean, the only non-new character in the film that was revealed to be a traitor was Sitwell. SITWELL.

It seems to be the canon that Sitwell got hit by a truck in the film, although I only saw him being thrown out of the car. Maybe it was the crappy 3D.

Regarding the final scene of the episode, I think it was meant to be a reflection of sorts of the second post credits scene in Captain America 2, where Bucky sees his old self in the museum. Both are very similar moments for similar characters. Plot wise, the scenes are redundant, but while I don’t really care for Bucky, Ward’s scene had quite the emotional pay-off.

A short thought about Thor 2 and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Spoilers)

November 8, 2013

Thor 2 was OK. I actually thought it wasn’t as good as the first film – a lot of redundant scenes, specifically those centred on the villains, and a general lack of focus. I did enjoy several fun references to the comics (such as Thor decapitating Bor) , and there were probably many more I missed. What bugged me was the ending. I don’t mean the climax, which was a funny physics-schmysics eye-candy, but rather Loki’s reappearance and the post-credits scene.

I don’t have anything against Loki specifically, but I do think the Marvel films would be better off treating death as final, at least for a while. It is also somewhat ironic considering how several conversations in the film go into length regarding morality. This is also true for agent Coulson in S.H.I.E.L.D. Although Coulson’s death and revival is clearly a metaphor for a middle-age crisis, it still manages to undermine the sense of peril. In addition, Coulson’s new-found uncertainty is also ironic considering his statement in Avengers regarding Loki’s lack of conviction.

As for the post-credits scene, using the post-credits scene only to set up macguffins is just wrong. The post-”Captain America” scene wasn’t only about setting up the tesseract – it set up the return of Loki, which was appropriate in that context.

Agents of Shield 1×01 (with spoilers and theories)

September 27, 2013

Rearranged from my comments in Hebrew here. Spoilers for the Avengers film and the New Avengers/Secret war comics, along with some theories for what may come next in SHIELD.

I watched the episode with a non-geek, among other reasons to avoid the Pause button. This turned out to be smart: although there were a couple of references, the episode was clearly trying to establish an identity that’s independent from the its comics/movie origins. At the same time, it refers to the plot of Avengers as backstory, which is sort of a ballsy move, as the pilot doesn’t have any sort of cataclysmic event and doesn’t bother to present a prominent threat. The episode itself was light with a reasonable amount of (mostly static) action scenes. The characters themselves were likeable with backstories that raise some questions and suspicions.  It is by far lighter than Dollhouse – at least for the time being.  Non-geek said it felt like a feel-good show, and had I not watched other Joss shows, that assessment would seem logical. The only part where some gloom was felt was Mike’s speech (a somewhat heavy-handed delivery IMHO), which to me seemed to deal with the effect of larger-than-life-celebrities (and as a result, the creation of self-destructive instant-celebrity culture).

Having watched other Whedon shows, it is not far-fetched to assume that the feel-good feeling is temporary. An authority like SHIELD is clearly something Joss would find a way to criticize. This can be seen in Avengers, which placed the blame for the situation on the shoulders of Nick Fury. In Avengers, Fury decided to weaponize the Tesseract following what he perceived to be a non-proportional threat – in a sense, this is similar to Bendis’ Secret War. Also note that this suggest initiative by SHIELD rather than a proportional response, which also seems to be the case with the task force in the show.

Something else to notice is some very bizzare decision making in SHIELD. Skye’s recruitment mirrors what we saw in the ending of Item 47, in that in both cases an agency recruits people with very little experience and without too many reasons to trust them. Specifically Skye’s assistance  in finding Mike seems redundant at times – If they’re the super-spies they’re supposed to be, shouldn’t they easily find out Mike’s identity after the attack in the factory? Along with the knowledge that Coulson is not exactly Coulson, I’m expecting a twist here. Two ideas for what it might be:

1) The task force is not what we think it is. Think SD6 from Alias. If Coulson isn’t Coulson, is SHIELD SHIELD?

2) What would seem to be interpreted as successes would later turn out to be the basis for catastrophic events. This is similar to what Bendis did in New Avengers up to Secret Invasion, where what seemed to be victories or good ideas were manipulated from within by the Skrulls. Specifically Melinda May’s recruitment calls to mind Spider-woman’s recruitment from New Avengers, and she later turned out to be Veranke, the Skrull Queen. Notice that I’m not necessarily saying Skrulls will be a part of the show. That was a popular claim before the Avengers film, mostly because it’s a popular contemporary storyline. What I am saying is that the structure of that story fits with what we know about the show and Whedon so far. But this is also a claim that’s a bit early to make.

Amazing Spider-man #624 (spoilers)

March 12, 2010

This blog has awakened from its slumber to point out a really bad issue of ASM. I’ve been following ASM since the Straczynski run, and there were some stinkers along the way, but this is the worst one in recent memory. And here’s why.

The gimmick: Peter Parker loses his job due to forging an image with Photoshop. Yeah. I didn’t make it up. This just screams “we wanted to make headlines”. First and foremost, because it is out of character for Parker. Recent years had some pretty weird developments, like Gwen Stacy having Norman Osborn’s children, or Peter Parker and MJ getting magically unmarried, but this is different because it seems as though they made Peter a douchebag to make headlines. As a vigilante, Peter is no  moral saint, but here it seems as though Peter is not even aware of the immorality of his actions, and feels no remorse (which is one of Peter’s basic traits). Even in the context of the forging act saving Jameson’s reputation, this doesn’t quite sit with the character.

Another thing that makes this gimmick loathsome is that it seems they did it to make Peter/ASM “hip”. Asides from Photoshop forgery being the very opposite of hip, this just screams “Peter is really as young as you are and faces the same problems you do”. The current run, as opposed to the JMS run, has featured a younger Peter (which is where unmarrying Peter and MJ came into the picture). But when it’s forced down our mouths, Peter just seems like the creepy old dude who thinks he’s 10 years younger.

The arc: Well, supposedly this is part of an arc where Peter meets old enemies as part of some scheme by the Kravens to get revenge. The problem is this has gone on for so long that the term “arc” for this story has become somewhat loose. Sure, Electro broke out the Vulture last issue, but this last  issue didn’t even refer to the arc. Part of the idea behind the current ASM run is that some plot threads are left to dangle while others are dealt with. But since the story was so bad, it makes it look like the interesting plot threads were hung out to dry rather than left to dangle, such as evil aunt may. Even worse, the current story doesn’t make a reference to some details from the other plots even when it should (Such as JJJ’s dad being Parker’s step dad).

The writing: This issue reads like the Stan Lee stuff, and not in the good “Stan Lee knew characterization” way, but in the “it reads like it was written in the 60s” way. Spidey’s commentary in the spidey-vulture fight is way more over the top than necessary, and if there’s a giggle to be had from Peter doing Photoshop forgery and running out of web fluids in the same issue, I missed it. But other than that, something just doesn’t work. Even Jameson, who is the most complex character of this issue, somehow doesn’t manage to be interesting.

And then I looked at the credits and was stunned. This was written by Mark Waid. The same Mark Waid who writes Irredeemable, one of the best comic books currently out there. Obviously with Irredeemable he has more freedom as he created that book, but his last ASM issue is simply embarrassing.

I’m sticking around with ASM for some of the other rotating writers (specifically Dan Slott), but for me this run has sort of jumped the shark.

How I met your Mother 5×14 (Spoilers)

February 12, 2010

I was thinking of reviewing 5×12 (the one with the mother’s sister that ends with the Barney musical segment), but 5×14 has the same basic flaw: It’s really about Barney.

I’m not saying the occasional episode where Barney gets the A-plot is a bad thing, but the character could certainly use less screen time. This episode had Old Ted telling a story about Barney telling a story to a fictional character, which just didn’t work – by the time the show pointed to Barney’s low reliability as a storyteller, it was too little and too late.

If that sounds irrelevant to a show like HIMYM, it isn’t. Despite it’s frequent trips into the realm of imagination, it’s the show’s rather strong grounding and romantic tendencies that allow those trips. It’s true that Neil Patrick Harris is probably more talented than the other folks, but without Ted there can be no Barney. I recently watched the episode where Ted meets Victoria, and it almost seems as though the show has lost something since – The laughs are still there, but the show doesn’t bother to earn them anymore. In other words, the show’s beginning to look like the standard American sitcom.

Also, it didn’t help that each of the plots had one joke that was repeated over and over.

The Alias award for teaser length: The teaser hits at 5:54, which is after 1/4 of the show. By this time, all four jokes are set up.

The Futurama “Scruffy” award for recurring character: Wendy the waitress reappears. For those of you not following the show’s web presence, Wendy the waitress is the mother.

Avengers, Consolidate!

January 17, 2010

Canceling all four Avengers titles is certainly a ballsy move for Marvel. If indeed Marvel is consolidating the Avengers, this is a positive development for fans who feel that they have to follow too many titles to get the entire story, and for newcomers who would usually want to get just one. That said, we still haven’t heard what Marvel’s plans are beyond New Avengers Finale. So I proudly present my list of Top Ten Ways Marvel Can Screw Up The Avengers:

10. The Super Human Unregistration Act is legislated, plot starts going in reverse. Stories by Brian Michael Bendis suddenly make sense.

9. The Human Registration Act is legislated. Obama is quoted as saying it’s still more probable than him supporting Norman Osborn.

8. The Inhuman Registration Act is legislated. No one cares.

7. Avengers return after a mini titled: “Avengers: Reborn”, a psychedelic trip through the history of the Avengers . No one cares, but everyone buys it anyway.

6. Mighty Avengers become “Pym Avengers”, Avengers made up by Pym Particles, fighting supervillains on a subatomic level. Did I mention no one cares?

5. Bendis unveils the long hinted-at “Thought Bubble invasion”, before realizing you can’t use the tagline “Who do you trust” when you know what everyone’s thinking.

4. Scarlet Witch says: “No More Avengers Titles”.

3. Quesada un-marries Jessica Jones and Luke Cage as the baby gets Mephisto-ed. Jessica suddenly seems to be 10 years younger and has a weekly series. Luke Cage: “Sweet Christmas!”

2. Bullseye-Hawkeye gets killed and promptly resurrected by Loki-Scarlet Witch, before having intercourse with her. him.

1. It all ends with the mega-event The Civil Invasion of the Dark Siege of M: Disassembled.

Chuck 3×01 (Spoilers)

January 16, 2010

Sometimes I just don’t get the idea of opening credits. If they’re the same every week, they steal precious screen time in a world where good shows get canceled way too often.  And if they change to reflect changes in the show, it’s a spoiler – as with Anna not being present in the credits in this episode. It actually gets worse, as this episode’s credits still feature the Buy More, while the teaser had me wonder whether the show is about to experience a retooling of some sort.

Instead, what we get is a “hero must overcome temporary slump in order to return to form” episode. The teaser sets this up by flash-forwarding to show us the supposedly spied-up Chuck, and once it becomes clear things aren’t as great as they seem, we flash back to learn why, and then flash forward again to see Chuck trying to get over it. It’s actually more confusing on screen.

Between all this confusion, the show manages its weekly dose of plot holes and transparent plot devices. For instance, Devon hangs a nice lampshade over Chuck being a target due to his spy past, but why Chuck is left unprotected is a question that I asked myself from the beginning of the episode.

In the general sense, Chuck overcoming the aforementioned slump is too clearly a plot device to maintain status quo, and it comes at the cost of the Chuck-Sarah relationship is not only in the plot sense but in the sense that things between them never seemed more forced. The only promising development in this episode was the concept of Chuck as potentially dangerous.

All that said, Chuck isn’t really a drama. Everything is eventually played for laughs, and laughs can certainly be had from this episode. If it’s Chuck’s downfall  into being a bum, or Emmet’s downfall into a stack of boxes – It’s all done with a silly tune and well-timed comic comebacks. It’s hard to be disappointed with Chuck when it delivers as a spy/action film spoof – It’s something that no one else does successfully on TV today.

A nice surprise was that the episode featured a lower-than-usual amount of product placement (even the Cheese Balls have their logo barely featured and are referred to as “Cheese Puffs”). Chauvinism and sexism are also barely present, which I think proves that Chuck can be funny without them.

Wait for it: The funniest scene would have to be Chuck doing his Latino guitar thing, but I got spoiled about this a few months back. So the funniest  moment for me was Jeff approaching Chuck as a model employee. A true moment of comic horror.

Welcome to the world of tomorrow: While I didn’t enjoy the flashbacks, I really loved the camera work on them. The second flashback specifically is obviously done with green screen, but the lighting gives is it a stylized-”Sky Captain and the world of Tomorrow”-feel. I was just talking with people about how Avatar is great in the sense that you don’t feel a green screen, but I guess green screen isn’t always a bad thing.

Speaking of Green Screen, here’s something you should see.

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Eight #031 (Spoilers)

January 15, 2010

I’ll expand on this sometime in a general post about Buffy, but while I enjoy Joss Whedon’s TV work immensely, his comic books are hit or miss for me. Whedon just doesn’t have the same knack for what works in comics as he does in television, both visually and storytelling-wise (see the Whedon-penned Runaways issues for an example of this).

So while I won’t miss a Joss-penned issue of Buffy, I’m also ready to be let down every time. This time I wasn’t.

Joss seems to have finally gotten some handle on the re-introductory material needed in monthly comics,  given in sufficient amount and timely fashion. There’s something very right about beginning the issue referring to Buffy’s new flight ability, and only then recapping recent events in a Willow-Oz conversation (I was actually confused since I mistook the last panel in 30 to suggest that Buffy became giant-sized, but I blame Jane Espenson for that). That said, the new status-quo in which the battle is essentially over is somewhat sudden, and along with Willow’s re-powering and Buffy’s victory over the godesses seems like somewhat of a Deus Ex Machina.

But the overarching plot wasn’t the focus of this issue as much as the characters, specifically Buffy squaring off with Xander regarding Dawn and Xander’s kiss. Joss handles the dialogue for this superbly, with just the right amount of cynicism and emotion. As usual, Jeanty’s character art helps in recognizing and sympathizing with those characters (not to mention his great Lichtenstein-style cover. which as it turns out was Joss’ idea), but it’s Joss that does the heavy lifting.

Next month’s issue is the first of an arc by Brad Meltzer, who wrote DC’s Identity Crisis (recommended – clever and twisted). It’s interesting to see whether an experienced comic book writer can do better than Joss, but If he does as well as Joss in this issue, fine by me.

Best panel: Buffy and Xander’s conversation reflected in the mirror.

References and gags: Other than the obligatory pop culture references, there are some less obvious ones: The Domo on Kennedy’s shirt, “18″ on Dawn’s sleeve (yes, everyone, she’s legal), and the one I swear I’m not imagining – Willow happy over Xander and Dawn falling in love is her channeling How I Met Your Mother’s Lily. I’m certain Joss is a fan.

A Beginning is a very delicate time

January 15, 2010

A rather laconic introduction post, but the zero readers my blog currently has will have to excuse me. I’m Shai, and this is my blog about TV and Comics. In here you will find reviews, recommendations, and thoughts as deep as my short attention span will allow. I hope you’ll enjoy them.

An important disclaimer is that many of the posts will include spoilers. Titles of posts and paragraphs will detail what show/issue I’m referring to, but reviews will assume you’ve watched/read them. Thus endeth the disclaimer.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.