I am watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D despite not having seen the movies. I like daft team-based action shows – I am probably the only person out there eagerly awaiting the return of Primeval: New World – so I thought it was worth giving the show a shot.
This is a weird experience, because I find it quite hard to tell what I’m not understanding because it’s setup from what I’m not understanding because I haven’t seen the films. At the risk of gravely offending Joss Whedon fans everywhere, I’m liveblogging it below.
Hey, it’s Gunn from Angel! He’s playing a lovable everydude with money problems and an adorable son. He also has the ability to punch through bricks in a controlled manner and to jump from high buildings without breaking his knees. Lovable Everydude runs into Generic Joss Whedon Woman, who I think may have been put together by crowdsourcing from everyone who ever created a snub-nosed, pale-skinned petite brunette in The Sims. She is quirky and talks a mile a minute and steals his drivers’ license, and appears to be involved with a group called The Rising Tide, which sounds like some kind of menstrual euphemism. So far I am not massively interested in Generic Joss Whedon Woman.
Meanwhile, Smug Special Agent has made an appearance. I thought I’d seen him in some kind of shrugging team everyman / third season boyfriend of female series protagonist role before, but IMDB turns up nothing, so he must just have that kind of a face. Actually, thinking about it, he reminds me of a beefed-up Daniel from Revenge, but it’s not the same guy. Anyway, if you picture a live-action Sterling Archer with Jimmy Carr’s facial mannerisms, you’re pretty much there.
Blah blah Smug Special Agent works alone blahcakes. Smug Special Agent meets Even Smugger Special Agent With A Face Like A Fifties Character Actor, who I think was in the film, as was Cobie Smulders. Cobie Smulders is only in this as a guest star, which is a pity, as I’ve followed her career and wished her well ever since she was in my beloved cancelled Veritas: The Quest ten years ago. Even Smugger then goes and recruits Ming-Na Wen, who almost immediately goes off and meets the two members of Irksomely Puppyish R&D. I start thinking how much I would enjoy watching a live-action Paranoia series.
There is some car and plane porn.
Generic is hauled off to the Secret Base Of Lots Of Tech And Hexagons, where she has a stand-off and some manufactured sexual tension with Smug. There’s a joke about ‘cosplay girls’ showing up at Stark Towers. Even Smugger shoots Smug up with something that isn’t exactly sodium pentothal for… reasons… and leaves them alone together. Meanwhile, Lovable Everydude has a tense conversation about going public with someone he addresses as ‘Doctor’ and turns out to have a glowy metal centipede attached to his arm. Bugger. Why is the only character I’m actually interested in a monster of the week?
Irksomely Puppyish R&D are investigating the building that Lovable Everydude rescued a woman from at the beginning of the episode. It’s a sinister secret lab. I bet that has nothing at all to do with mysterious doctors.
So far my level of interest is hovering around ‘a bit better than the Beauty and the Beast remake, I guess’ but I am easily distracted by things that one of the cats is doing in a patch of sun to the left of the television, such as washing her foot and yawning.
Lovable Everydude begs his former employer for a job, and starts bashing things up when refused. I think this is some kind of metaphor about the economy. He then goes off to visit the woman who he rescued at the beginning, who is in hospital. In a legitimately unexpected twist, she turns out to be Creepy Doctor. Also she looks about twenty-three. Maybe she went to university early and got her doctorate in record time and has only recently begun her career of evildoing.
There is some exposition involving alien metal and how the last person to wear the Arm-Mounted Centipede Of Doom exploded. I miss quite a lot of this because Generic Joss Whedon Woman has turned out to be a hacker and apparently ‘the encryption is tied to the GPS’. My husband rants for some time about how unlikely this is. Puppyish R&D run around being puppyish. No Longer So Lovable Everydude hijacks Generic’s hacker van and demands that she wipe his identity from the Internet (which apparently ‘she’s done before’) and take him to the nearest train station.
At the train station, there is a tense standoff. Creepy Doctor and her facial stitches are here with a henchman! Smug has a large gun! No Longer So Lovable (And Now Kind Of Glowing From Within In A Nuclearesque And Unwell Fashion) Everydude beats some people up! I keep expecting Generic to bust out the waif-fu moves, but she doesn’t. However, Ming-Na Wen does later beat up the henchman. Someone says ‘the tide is rising’ and it makes me think how ‘shield’ is also a menstrual euphemism. You used to be able to buy ‘panty shields’, though these days they’re probably called something that sounds less as if they might actually be pieces of hammered iron that you slide inside your gusset.
There is a symbolic mural of people of all nations staring heroically into the distance! Even Smugger and Now Really Quite Glowy have a conversation beneath the symbolic mural. Glowy seems to be addressing all men in suits in the person of this one man in a suit, and airing his entirely reasonable complaints about the economic situation. The conversation then takes a sharp left turn into ‘what is the point of ordinary people when there are superheroes about?’ It occurs to me that I could re-read the Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham run of Miracleman instead of watching this.
It looks as if Glowy is about to give himself up! But then Smug shoots him in the head! Music plays. There are lots of slow-motion shots of people’s faces doing the ‘oh no!’ expression. One half of Puppyish R&D scurries forward, takes some vital signs from Glowy, and nods with a dewy smile. It seems he has been somehow been shot with a Bullet of LIFE! This reminds me of those annoying magic systems where evildoers are harmed by love, which irk me, because if that actually worked, then every single narcissistic nutcase that friends of mine have stuck with well past their relationship’s evident sell-by date would by now have withered like a neglected pot-plant. Anyway, we cut to the other half of Puppyish R&D standing beside Smug, who is hefting an alien-looking gun. I guess that’s all right then. Maybe the Gun of LIFE was in the films and that explains it? The team share a montage of teary-eyed looks.
Later, Presumably! Adorable Child is being dropped off with a loving foster family by what I at first take for Even Smugger and Cobie Smulders, but which turns out instead to be Even Smugger and Generic Joss Whedon Woman. In my defence she and Cobie Smulders have vaguely similar hair. He asks whether she wants to be recruited. She isn’t sure. Then there is an emergency back in the Base of Tech Porn, and they take off in a flying red car.
Flying. Red. Car. I don’t think any of us can argue about what this is a metaphor for any more, can we? I look forward to later shows in which they fight the Funnel-Shaped Dots From Beyond Mars and a race of aliens with adhesive wings.
Well, I don’t, because I have a to-watch pile on my TiVo including a whole lot of stuff I’m more interested in. But, hey, nothing ventured nothing gained, and I spent a while watching the cat make very cute faces. The guy playing the team leader clearly has acting chops, Ming-Na Wen is always worth watching and the rest of the team will probably grow into their roles, but it’s not for me.
6 thoughts on “Agents of P.E.R.I.O.D.”
“apparently ‘the encryption is tied to the GPS’. My husband rants for some time about how unlikely this is.”
I see that watching technology in your household is like watching technology in our household. The next episode (don’t shoot me, I’m having fun) featured a large hole in a depressurized jet being plugged by an inflated liferaft, which failed entirely to fold in half and be sucked *through* the hole.
I kept mistaking Vat-Grown Whedon Woman for Amy Acker; sadly, the template omitted the charm. (Perhaps “Amy”s are issued charm at birth? Cf. Amy Adams.) Anyway, Whedon shows always start slowly and often badly, because he’s not great at introducing his ensemble while simultaneously doing plot. I won’t be making the keep/discard decision for a few eps yet. For calibration, I HATED Dollhouse, was meh about Firefly until about 5 eps in, adored Buffy, and thought Angel was piecewise great, piecewise awful.
Eh, I can totally see that it’d be a lot of fun if it finds its feet. I just have a TiVo backed up full of other things.
There’s also Amy Poehler, who has charm to spare – I would watch her reading the phone book.
Nowadays I’m much less about the TiVo; the backlog is three commercial streaming services (Amazon, Netflix, and acorn.tv) full of British stuff I haven’t seen yet. I understand why it’s practically impossible, but damn, I wish I could pay the BBC and Channel 4 for iplayer. There is no market for comedy panel shows in the USA, not even QI.
I was amused enough to keep watching but my reaction to the first episode wasn’t that far off yours, although as always, you put it into words far better than I could. I’m hoping generic woman will grow some personality soon but mostly I’m staying put for Ming-Na kicking ass and then having no time for the rest of them, and because I’m mildly intrigued about what manner of regeneration they’ve pulled on Mr Even Smugger (I haven’t seen the films yet either).
Hee! Let me know if it gets more Ming-Na kicking ass focused when it’s had time to find its feet.
There was more of her in the 2nd episode so I have hope!