HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Season 1
HTS Overall Score:76
It seems like superheroes are invading the Television world in mass quantities. “Arrow” has been rocking it for the last 2 years, we have “The Flash” and “Gotham” are premiering soon and Marvel has their hand in the pie as well. The one thing that Marvel has done so very well that is cementing them as the kings of live action superheroes is the incredibly dense and rich world building with the movies. It’s one cohesive universe that binds all the different stories together with plenty of crossovers. With the success of “The Avengers”, Joss Whedon, and Marvel studios decided to expand the story to the little screen in hopes of reaching a wider audience and to keep the fans excited with the universe by getting them to watch every week, not just every summer. After watching the series I have to say that Marvel may not have hit the target they were looking for, as “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is off to a VERY rocky start.
After the New York invasion by Loki and his minions, the world has to deal with superheroes on a much bigger playing field. After the devastation caused by the incident new heroes and new villains are coming to the forefront, many of them going after or utilizing stolen tech from the Chitauri invasion forces. We have men infused with super soldier serum, cybernetic bad guys, crazy scientists and much much more. To help stem the tide, Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) gives a newly recovered Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) authority to create a special task force to help contain the situation. Pulling upon agents that he’s familiar with, including Agent May (Ming-Na Wen) and combat specialist Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), and using some young geniuses in the case of Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, Coulson is out to save the world. Well, almost, as there’s one more addition to the team. Civilian hacker, only known as Skye (Chloe Bennet) is roped in to round out their specialty group.
The team starts out slowly, rounding up bad guys, grabbing pieces of Alien tech, but it soon becomes evident that there is a hand behind the scenes, manipulating the pawns to his bidding. This villain soon becomes known as “The Clairvoyant”, a mystical guru who knows everything about everything, including every move that S.H.I.E.L.D. is making. Teaming up with Agent Garrett (Bill Paxton), a longtime friend of Coulson, the young team now has to find out just what The Clairvoyant wants, and how to catch him/her. The first 13 – 14 episodes are fairly self-contained and episodic, but once the series passes that threshold and syncs up to coincide with the dealings of “The Winter Soldier” it picks up a bit, becoming a serialized show that goes straight till the end of the series. Hydra is now the full enemy and it becomes the focus of the show to take down them and their minions everywhere, along with all the modified centipede soldiers that they have created.
I really wanted to like “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”, I really did, but the poor acting the poor writing just isn’t up to par. Fans had HUGE expectations for the show, and there was a lot of online “fighting” over whether the show was a success, a failure, or whether we just had our expectations too high. I went into the series with some very lowered expectations and still came out rather disappointed. Watching very closely it seems that the actors are really struggling with the script they’re given and trying to do their best, the only problem is, they aren’t the greatest TV actors ever either. Ming-Na Wen plays the same character in every TV show she’s in, cold, lifeless and pretty much forgettable. Dalton as Ward is the only one who seems semi believable besides Gregg and Paxton. Cobie Smulders and Samuel L. Jackson make a few cameos, but they are very very limited, and maybe in 10 minutes of the entire series. The real saving grace with the characters is the inclusion of Bill Paxton, as Paxton is a great actor for chewing the scenery. He’s head and shoulders above the rest of the actors and gives the experience a nice flavor. I really really loved Clark Gregg as agent Coulson in all of the Marvel movies, and he’s a great source of comic relief when used properly, however he’s given such a large amount of screen time and soon it becomes obvious that he’s not leading man material and too much of a good thing soon sours.
I’m not sure whether I should have expected it, but the lack of the shows budget is very jarring when it’s supposed to be in the same universe as the much better movies, as the show looks like it was given a shoestring to play with and shows a lot of cracks and seams when it really shouldn’t. There’s a few times when I said “wow that looks impressive”, but overall it felt like a really cheesy, really low budget version of the David Hasselhoff version of “Nick Fury” from the good ole days, just with a more modern flair.
The episode rundown:
Girl in the Flowered Dress
The Magical Place
End of the Beginning
Turn, Turn, Turn
The Only Light in the Darkness
Beginning of the End
Not Rated By the MPAA
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=27065[/img]“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is presented in a standard television aspect ratio of 1.78:1 encoded in MPEG2 with some very pleasing results. For a DVD I was really impressed, as the show had a lot of detail and showed some very pleasant color replication. The shows features a very natural looking color palette, with a warm tint to it. Blacks are inky black and show no issues with lack of shadow detail or crush. I did notice some macroblocking that was fairly prevalent and some digital noise, but they didn’t really show their heads unless you were really close to the display. It’s not going to look as good as the HD version, but as DVD’s go the image was very impressive.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=27073[/img]The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is also quite good, showing some nice surround activity and a great presence. It IS, however, only given a 384 kbps encode and the compression does show some issues, particularly with the clarity and dynamic range at times. Still, the vocals are replicated cleanly and clearly with some awesome low end LFE to spice up the mix when really called for. It’s not going to be mistaken for a giant blockbuster sound track, but it does very well with the limited tools it has at its disposal. Directionality is quite good, and really puts you in the thick of things, and I really enjoyed the expanded soundstage that it delivered. Overall, a very nice track that ranks very high up there for a TV series.
• Journey Into S.D.C.C.
• Assembling A Universe
• Audio commentaries
• Gag Reel
• Deleted Scenes
• Promo Trailers
• Field Reports
The series has some potential, I will give it that, but the first season was off to a very rock start and really didn’t start to pick up till the final couple of episodes. Even then I’m not sure if we’ll see a third season since the second season was BARELY able to squeak out a renewal, and the cheese factor doesn’t help it when it’s being compared to other, better received series such as “Arrow” that airs right alongside it. Only time will tell what the future brings, but I’d give this a rental before you blind buy the series.
Starring: Clark Gregg, Brett Dalton, Ming-Na Wen
Created by: Joss and Jed Whedon
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: Dolby Digital 5.1
Studio: ABC Studios
Rated: Not Rated
Runtime: 946 minutes
DVD Release Date: September 9th 2014
Buy Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Blu-ray on Amazon
Buy Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. DVD on Amazon
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