Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 1

"When I took this job, I made a choice. The same choice everyone else here made. This life over the other one. The one with holiday dinners, and PTA meetings, recitals. It's not easy. But if the time comes to make the hard call, it's simpler." - Agent Phil Coulson

release year: 2013-14
genre: TV superhero action/adventure
viewing setting: home DVD 10/11-22/2015

synopsis: In the aftermath of the Avengers' battle with alien invaders, a special secret government team is formed to deal with superpowered threats and situations that the superheroes don't have time for.

impressions: Wow. Let me say it once: if you like the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero movies, this series is very much like those, except on TV and without the big heroes, and with quite a bit of espionage added. This is great stuff. I grew up as a comic book fan, and there are numerous references to elements from those stories, both direct and subtle. In some cases (Deathlok, the Enchantress, Blackout) these are major guest-stars or recurring villains, while in other cases (Graviton, Blizzard, Griffin, Howling Commandos) they are just clever references that the casual viewer won't get. And then there are the neat touches like the heavily-modified giant plane they fly around in, or the jet-powered flying Corvette, and dozens more. Cool stuff. Anyway, aside from those connections to the comics, this series has a ton of sci-fi action, and also a ton of plot twists. This first season establishes the team and the world they live and work in, and then deals with several minor arcs and villains who all end up woven together in an insidious, trust-no-one, ultimate-conspiracy mega plot arc that dominates the last few episodes. Near the end, I found myself continuously just watching that "one more" episode to see what would happen.

acting: Clark Gregg is the lead agent, who has been mysteriously resurrected from the dead, who keeps different secrets from different allies, and who trusts in the system and his bosses. Ming-Na Wen is perhaps the most bad-ass female fighter ever. Brett Dalton is the team's "specialist" (which is another word for highly-trained muscle/assassin.) Chloe Bennett is a bad-guy hacker chick who gets recruited to the team and ends up being key in more ways than one. Elizabeth Henstridge is a medical genius, while Iain De Caestecker is a technological genius. Those are the main six on the team, but there are dozens of supporting and guest-star roles (the latter including Nick Fury, Lady Sif, and Maria Hill from the movies.) Notable recurring cast include J. August Richards as a super-powered operative created and manipulated by bad guys, Bill Paxton as a high-ranking veteran agent, and Ruth Negga as a creepy evil scientist lady. And trust me when I say that many of these people are not what they appear to be.

final word: Amazing and highly entertaining espionage-heavy complement to the recent Marvel movies.

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