It should not surprise my veteran readers that the new TV series I
was most looking forward to this fall season was Marvel’s Agents of
S.H.I.E.L.D. The show is a spinoff from Marvel’s The Avengers, the
best super-hero movie of all time. It was created by Joss Whedon,
Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen...and the elder Whedon gave us
some of my favorite TV shows of all times, treasures like Buffy the
Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse. It stars Clark Gregg
as Agent Phil Coulson, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who could be one of
my neighbors. I was all aflutter with expectation.
The pilot episode did not disappoint in any way, except that I was
sort of hoping J. August Richards was playing Luke Cage. He played
an unemployed father struggling to raise a young son and willing to
be a test subject pig for scientists messing around with their own
version of the super-soldier serum. Richards was great in the role
and really deserves to headline a show of his own. It’s too bad I
don’t currently own all the rights to Black Lightning.
Coulson has put together a team of non-super-powered agents to deal
with the new superhumans showing up in the wake of all those cool
Marvel super-hero movies. My favorite is the computer hacker who
gets recruited instead of arrested. My second favorite is the lone
wolf Black Ops agent who is already making a terrific foil for the
far more optimistic Coulson.
The series has wonderfully underplayed connections to Marvel’s film
universe. Cobie Smulders does a guest turn as Maria Hill from the
Avengers movie. The pilot doesn’t ignore that Coulson was killed by
Loki in that movie, but makes a delectable mystery of how the guy
is still alive. I was already loving this show madly when, in the
last scene, Coulson’s car Lola turned into the flying car designed
by Jack Kirby in the very first “Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.”
comic-book story. I squealed in delight.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby get creator credits in the opening credits.
In the closing credits, Jim Steranko and Bryan Hitch were listed.
I think other comics creators were listed as well, but I couldn’t
make out all the names.
I will not yield. I will back S.H.I.E.L.D. every week for what I
hope will be several years to come.
My TV viewing is as sporadic as my comic-book reading, but I have
managed to keep up with several shows even as the unwatched episode
count rises on other series. Here are some brief comments on the
shows I have watched.
Broadchurch aired on BBC America. The eight-episode series dealt
with the shocking murder of a young boy in a small coastal town and
the search for the killer. It starred David Tennant as a big-city
detective who had failed to convict another child killer and is now the
head inspector in Broadchurch. Olivia Colman plays his partner, a
married woman with two children who was up for the position Tennant
The story played out in chillingly slow and incredibly suspenseful
manner. Viewers got to know the characters: the leads, the family
of the victim, Colman’s family, journalists, suspects and several
of the townspeople. These were complicated characters and most of
them had secrets of one kind or another. When the identity of the
killer was revealed, it was a shocking moment, the kind that makes
a viewer’s eyes widen in disbelief. The acting and the writing of
the series was superb throughout the eight episodes.
Amazingly - and, if you’ve been watching the series, you know why
I use that adverb - the producers have announced a second series of
Broadchurch, which will begin production in 2014. I’m truly looking
forward to what comes next.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine is a half-hour comedy about a detective squad in
a remote precinct adjusting to a new by-the-book boss. A little of
Andy Samberg goes a long way with me - he plays the lone wolf and
comically rebellious top detective of the precinct - but his antics
are nicely moderated by the amazing presence of Andre Braugher as
the new boss.
My initial skepticism towards this new series vanished after I saw
the first two episodes. The detectives did actual police work and
did it well. The laughs didn’t come from just the Samberg/Braugher
mismatch. The supporting characters are interesting and quirky.
The show will be compared to Barney Miller, but I don’t see that as
a bad thing. I think Brooklyn Nine-Nine has the potential to reach
and surpass its classic predecessor.
Criminal Minds seems posed to jump the shark this season. Though
this series about the FBI Behavioral Analysis Unit has had a good
run, the emphasis now seems to be on coming up with a serial killer
whose crimes are more gross and horrific than those of the previous
episode’s serial killer. Attempts at character development of the
agents have been non-existent or unbelievably clumsy. Now in its
ninth season, the show may have run out of steam. It’s possible I
won’t be watching it much longer.
I caught up with Elementary last week. This modern-day take on the
great detective has recovering drug addict Sherlock solving crimes
in New York City with the assistance of his “sober coach,” a former
surgeon. Leads Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are great as Holmes
and Watson. The writing has been excellent throughout the series’
first season and the show has given us some surprising takes on the
Sherlock Holmes mythology.
The most impressive episodes were the two final ones of the first
season. A storyline that had been building for many episodes was
resolved in splendid and satisfying manner and without resorting to
the “cheesy cliffhanger” gambit of too many shows. With a series
this good, I didn’t need a cliffhanger to get me back for a second
Then there’s The Glades, a moderately entertaining series about a
Chicago homicide detective who relocates to Florida. The series’
third season ended on a satisfying note as the detective proposed
to his girlfriend and she accepted. When I watched that episode,
it felt like a series finale to me and I would have been good with
that. I was also good with The Glades being renewed for a fourth
series. I was good all the way up to the season finale.
It’s the wedding day. The detective has solved his latest case and
has secretly bought his wife-to-be’s dream house for them to spend
their wedding night in and then, after their honeymoon, to make it
their home. On his way to the wedding ceremony, he makes a stop at
the house to prepare the wedding night ambiance...and gets shot in
the back by an unknown assailant. End scene.
I yelled at the flat screen. If the show doesn’t come back for a
fifth season, the series has ended with the hero being murdered and
his killer getting away with it. Not a feel good scenario.
I loathe season-ending cliffhangers. A show doesn’t have to tie up
every dangling plot thread at the end of a season, but it should
leave viewers with a satisfying conclusion to the main story. Do
that and those viewers will come back.
To end today’s bloggy thing on a more positive note...
Hot in Cleveland is a fun comedy about three friends who move from
Los Angeles to the Mistake on the Lake, reinventing themselves to
some degree. It has one of the most solid casts of any comedy on
TV: Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, Wendie Malick, the incredible
Betty White and, in a recurring supporting role, Georgia Engel. I
adore these very funny women.
This season’s penultimate episode was a reunion of the female cast
members of The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Moore, Valerie Harper and
Cloris Leachman. Despite obvious physical ills, Moore and Harper
were terrific. Leachman was unpredictable, but that added to the
fun of the reunion. There were nods to The Mary Tyler Moore show -
the title of the episode was “Love Is All Around You” - and lots of
warmth. Amazingly, the reunion didn’t push Bertinelli, Leeves and
Malick out of the episode. They had as many great moments as the
Hot in Cleveland is usually very entertaining. This episode raised
the bar. It’ll be tough to match.
I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.
© 2013 Tony Isabella