Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Last year, at the urging of my husband and curiosity, I lost nearly 30 hours and 30 IQ points watching and ragging on the CW's Arrow. It is a delightfully stupid show set in a land where people are arrested and go to trial in the same day, killing lawyers is a misdemeanor on par with littering, and there are 50,000 bounty hunters to every one therapist. (Do not even get me started on the insane man who was running the operations on the island with the attention span of a cockatoo; I'm gonna miss that guy.)

I am uncertain if I will wade into Arrow season two, a good 75% of watching was for John Barrowman and seeing if they would have Tommy discover a letter from his dead mother telling him she never loved him. So to fill that superhero show void this year, I turned to Marvel's SHIELD produced by the nerd god Joss Whedon.
It opens with a father dropping off his kid in front of a display of movie tie-in toys as he goes all spider-man (but we can't invoke the web slinger or risk Sony's wrath) scaling a burning building. He tosses a hood over his head because everyone knows covering ones eyes can stop smoke inhalation, to rescue a random woman. After plummeting to the ground with her, the most annoying person in the history of everything! snaps his picture and shares it to the world.

Okay, enough intro, now to SHIELD. The "not mother despite dragging that dead end relationship for 8 years" from How I Met Your Mother is interviewing the blandest bland to ever bland the blanding. I am god awful at names so I shall dub him Bland Archer and mentally put him in black turtlenecks. She wants Bland Archer to do some mission they all refuse to explain to their main field agent because of liability (can't get sued when it all goes to hell --and it will, as you never explain the details of any job-- if he has no idea what he's getting into, I guess).

Now for the big shocker everyone's known since the show was announced a year ago, Coulson is alive!

As a throwaway, I joked that Fury keeps about 1,000 Life Model Decoys of Coulson around...and then the show went and hinted that that's the case with a bunch of Tahiti references. It was so obvious I really hope they don't drag this secret out for a full year or on. It'll start to get really sad by month two.

Anyway, Bland Archer keeps throwing a fit about how he's not a people person, he likes to run in, bore half naked trophy wives and get his ass kicked. Because a secret agent who's terrible with people is a great investment there SHIELD. How about a pilot with a major inner ear problem? An ammunition expert who's deathly allergic to gunpowder? A chef afraid of fire?

For a brief second Shepard Book appears on screen. Half of the internet is shrieking for Shepard to talk about the special hell, and in that time he's already vanished again.

Time to cut back to the Cape-Of-The-Week, as he's sitting in the same dingy cafe every show that needs dingy cafes use. He's minding his business flipping through job ads in a paper (how quaint), when the most annoying person in the history of everything! drops into his booth and will not shut up! It's like Gilmore Girls on fast forward as dictionaries dribble from her mouth about how evil SHIELD is. Perhaps we're supposed to forget the previous Marvel entrees and side with crazy anti-something who, despite living in a van and being off the grid, looks like a sears catalog version of Megan Fox. Totally believable there ABC, everyone in Anonymous looks just like that.

Thankfully, generic Megan Fox scampers off and that scene is mercifully done. But we still have more of the members of SHIELD to introduce. Needing an engineer and bioenginner to provide their weekly Deus Ex Machinas, Coulson went off and hire the Luteces. No, that's unfair. The Luteces are 10 Times more awesome and babble far less.

For being an International (yeah, really) spy organization, SHIELD either must have no budget, forced to hire kids who can't have even gotten their bachelors much less a PhD, or are trying to get around paying them at all by calling it an internship. Bland Archer is maybe 25, so okay, field agents could die a lot from rampaging Norse gods gifted their powers from a toilet struck by lightning. But why, why in the why of why would your science experts barely be able to shave? Either of them really. That girl's, what? 18? She wouldn't look out of place playing as a high school student, though in Hollywood 30 year olds still wander locker filled halls so I may have disproved my own thesis there.

Okay, can't keep bitching about the impossibly stupid young age of your experts when there's one more person to cryptically introduce. She shall forever be known as the Pilot because that was all Coulson argued with her about, driving what everyone kept calling the bus. I think we were all supposed to chuckle over the fact it's really a plane but why would two people who know it's a plane keep calling it a bus? The Mystery Van could have been a joke, but constantly calling a plane a bus just makes it seem like they never quite perfected robot Coulson's software and everyone in SHIELD has to humor him lest he explode.

Asian pilot, who of course knows martial arts as opposed to shooting the armed man (I'm getting ahead of myself here), agrees to fly the bus because otherwise she'd be sitting all alone in the dark computer farm of SHIELD because they must have had their budget sliced to the bone after New York battle (hence the interns in the science labs).

Having exhausted all the new characters in SHIELD the camera aggravatingly cuts to generic Megan Fox drolling on about how awesome she is at hacking, how she somehow has unlimited wifi in her van that must be the most foul smelling thing this side of a sewage plant, how she's bringing the Truth, Justice and The American Way! Oh crap, wrong company. Just as I want to reach through the screen and strangle her to stop, Coulson yanks open her door and does just that. (Gets her to stop, not so much the strangling alas)

I love this man! Thank you sweet SHIELD agent for doing just what we prayed you did.

Having brought together what is obviously going to be the "new hire" to start a series (I'm sorry, I'm so sorry) and SHIELD, we go back to Cape Of the Week, who's starting to go on a rampage in a factory. We learn that he was injured and fired, then thanks to something called centipede on his arm has gotten super powers.

Does...does that not sound a lot like the plot of Iron Man 3? Helping people who are injured and lost limbs to heal then get powers? Almost exactly like it, in fact?

Because we can't focus on the action we cut back to the "interrogation" of generic Megan Fox. She's being excessively teeth grating, batting her eyelashes and talking up her awesomeness. So Coulson does quite possibly the stupidest thing since he got stabbed by Loki. He takes an agent who has level 7 clearance, something even Iron Man and the rest don't have, gives him a truth serum and leaves him alone with the woman who threatened to expose all of SHIELD's secrets to bring him down.


Luckily, all generic Megan Fox gives a shit about is Bland Archer's grandmother, Paris, and if he thinks she's pretty as she yanks off a probably putrid and last washed 5 years ago jacket. So maybe Coulson was banking on her being as gullible as she is stupid.

Now all the bit players are working together. The Luteces are playing with their toy drones, looking over the explosion and learn that there was another centipede supe that exploded, causing the fire...just like in Iron Man 3.

As that's going on, Cape of the Week visits the woman he saved who first has to pretend she's all happy to see him, then as the nurse leaves she launches into cursing him out for drawing attention to his super powers that they gave him from some magical chemical mix of taking everything that created super heroes -- from gamma radiation to the super soldier serum --  plopping it in a bucket and dumping it into the first guy who wandered in. Surprise, surprise, this hangover cure isn't working and Cape of the Week is about to explode.

Are we supposed to keep pretending this isn't a rehash of Iron Man 3? Seriously? Fine...

Generic Megan Fox gets her ass kidnapped by Cape of the Week, who wants her to erase him from everything. You may have deleted him from the DMV, but you're never getting away from those student loans. Those guys are liches, you can't kill them unless you destroy their soul stone. This is all leading to a showdown at a train station.

Coulson orders the Luteces to find a cure for Mr. Exploding in an hour, which is probably when he's seriously regretting hiring a pair of interns before heading to the train station. The Luteces run around in their lab doing "sciencey" things and mostly talking over top each other. I'm getting a headache from the constant nothing-babble.

Bland Archer confronts Cape of the Week by jumping on his back like an exhausted child. This works about as well as you'd expect as his spine should have cracked in three places from his trip through the air. Instead he rolls up and attacks again, because stupid secret agents never learn.

Coulson calmly grabs Cape of the Week's kid to keep him safe from the coming bloodbath/explosion. Seeing as how Archer's completely fucked everything up, they throw another crab into the mix as evil, nondescript fake cop from evil, nondescript villain company brings a shotgun to a superhero fight and also screws it up. He gets his fake cop ass kicked by the pilot, I suspect we're all supposed to go "Wow, she's not just a pilot." I kept thinking, "he's armed, why are you not shooting him? No wonder you were kicked back to the computer farm."

Cape of the Week is understandably angry after what's been a very bad day dealing with the press, generic Megan Fox, his boss, generic Megan Fox again, and getting some shotgun blasts to the guts, so he's burning as Coulson approaches. They show Bland Archer up in a sniper perch, probably chatting with Hawkeye, who's been ordered to not shoot Cape of the Week unless necessary.

Coulson talks about great power, great responsibility, gods, supes, death, a whole bunch of stuff to run out the clock with Mr. Glowing Skin (though they've backed off on it now because CGI's expensive damn it! We're not making a motion picture here, I think). He offers to help Cape of the Week when Bland Archer goes and shoots him.

But as Cape of the Week lies in a crumple on the floor we see magic bullet turning his skin blue. I assume they just infused a hollow bullet with windex and figured, what the hell, gotta do something! So in an hour, not only did the Luteces manage to find an instant cure, create and manufacture a magic bullet with said cure they also had enough time to travel to the train station through what must have been barricaded by police. If it weren't for Generic Megan Fox being an elite hackerz that can erase anyone, that would be the most unbelievable thing they pulled off in the first episode.

So everyone's happy, Cape of the Week is back to being normal Dad with no job and looking down the barrel of a very long jail sentence, the Lutece's are off in their lab flipping a coin, and of course Coulson has to invite Generic Megan Fox to join their group because....

If anyone can think of a good reason for him to do that I'd love to hear it other than BOOBZ!

Final thoughts on SHIELD -- I preferred the story line when it was Iron Man 3, about the only characters I'm interested in are the non-white people and Coulson, but pilots are notoriously twitchy and I'll gladly give it a few more episodes before I abandon ship entirely.

How about you guys create an isolated island, that's still large enough to house a ton of guys in ski masks (despite no one being there to identify them) an air strip, a very crazy Australian man who we're supposed to pretend isn't a villain, and the batshit crazy man running the show? Just a suggestion.