Thursday, October 24, 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Not getting into it

OK, I've watched five episodes now and it's not really holding my interest.  Part of it is the story structure, but a good deal of it is the casting.

The basic frame is that there's a young hacker woman named Skye who is brought in to work with Agent Coulson's group.  Chloe Bennet as Skye is a typical Joss Whedon heroine: independent, self-directed, confident.  And she's good at her rule, even though her resemblance to another Whedon stalwart, Eliza Dushku, is noteworthy.  She's got the Buffy/River role.

And of course Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson is very good.  He's continuing the role he started in the Iron Man films, even though he supposedly died in The Avengers film.  (The in-show explanation is that the death was faked by Nick Fury to motivate the Avengers, but there are hints that there's a lot more to that story.)  Gregg is a very strong ensemble actor and does well here.  I don't know if he could carry a show himself.  But he doesn't have to.

Ming-Na Wen is strong as the supporting super-warrior Melinda May, like Zoe in Serentiy.  Hasn't had quite enough to work with, since Skye is the main character.  But I like when she's on screen.

But it goes down from there.

The lead male character is Grant Ward, played by Brett Dalton.  He's dreadful.  He's one of these generic Hollywood pretty boys who doesn't bring enough grit to an action role.  Very much in the Ryan Gosling pattern.  He's no Mal.  He's boring.  He can't get off screen fast enough.  That's a huge problem, since essentially he's the lead of the series.  Why is Hollywood so intent on giving lead parts based on looks?  Models cannot carry TV shows.  They've never been able to do that.

Aside from that are Dr. Fitz and Dr. Simmons, collectively referred to as "FitzSimmons".  Clever enough.  The actors are Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz and Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons.

I don't think anybody in science is named "Jemma".  I digress.

These two might develop into stronger characters, but so far they are mostly comic relief, with an occasional dash of technical wizardry.

Hopefully things pick up.  If not, this series is not going to survive very long.  Production costs are too high for the show to get away with being boring.  My suggestion?  Get rid of Grant Ward.  And one annoying thing that has been going on is that the show cannot resolve the question of whether Skye is 100% with S.H.I.E.L.D. or whether she's still working with the anarchist group Rising Tide.

Hoping that this becomes more compelling.  At least it looks better than Under the Dome.

11/8 update
Update: OK, the 6th episode was much better than the most recent few episodes.  Less Skye, more FitzSimmons, all the characters were humanized a bit.

Joss just bought a little more time with this one.

Wednesday, October 02, 2013

The Progressive Wish List

As Greg Sargent points out, there is a fundamental lack of symmetry in what the two parties in DC are saying needs to be done in order to end the government shutdown.  The Republicans have passed a list of demands of concessions they want from the Democrats before they are willing tot let the government continue to exist on regular terms.  The Democrats have not presented a similar list of demands.  They have simply put forward the proposition that the Republicans must stop acting like children and/or terrorists.

It's time for Progressives to fight back with a list of our own.  More after the jump.