TV Review: ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ S1 EP8 “The Well”

Starring:  Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Ming Na-Wen as Melinda May, Brett Dalton as Grant Ward, Chloe Bennet as Skye, Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz, Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons

Series created by:  Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharoen

Episode directed by:  Jonathan Frakes / Written by:  Monica Owusu-Breen / aired in the UK:  22/11/2013

What’s this episode about?

Agent Ward’s darkest memory resurfaces when he becomes exposed to a piece of an Asgardian staff…

Episode review

So how is AoS progressing so far?  The best I can say is just above adequately entertaining, certainly there is room for improvement yet I still find myself enjoying each episode and look forward to seeing how the concept and the characters continue to grow.  After all, how many shows are truly great in their first season?  Given that AoS isn’t even halfway through its premiere run yet I feel it’s still worth sticking with if only at the very least to keep the Marvel flame burning between films.

Eight episodes in and the writers and actors are starting to get a handle on the dysfunctional (yet functionally efficient) team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.  Coulson continues to be the glue with May his now less reluctant right-hand woman, Skye’s loyalties are settled and Ward ever the resourceful Alpha Male.  Ironically, it’s the two characters who at the outset seemed would be the weakest that are proving the most enjoyable – Fitz and Simmons are proving to be the real heart of the series.

With heavy focus on Fitz and Simmons in the previous two episodes, “The Well” highlights the show’s connections to its big screen siblings by following up the events of Thor: The Dark World whilst allowing Brett Dalton to tackle some background material for his character.  Does it work?  Well (no pun intended…or then again was it?) yes and no, Ward serves a purpose and I’d be interested to learn more about the troubled past that’s hinted at, but I found myself more interested in the ‘Fitzsimmons’ moments peppered throughout and yearning to learn more about Coulson’s mysterious ‘death’ and recovery.  I’d also like to see more revelations surrounding Agent May who clearly has an interesting story to tell (between bouts of kicking backside) – but all in good time I suppose!

The Asgardian connection is fun and 24’s Peter MacNicol (or Ghostbusters II for true geek recognition) is a solid guest star bringing a playful and eccentric quality to the wise Professor Randolph.  Thus far though there is a little something missing from the series to make it compelling appointment television but as I’ve cited it needs time to grow as the footings of the writers and actors become firmer and all those wider story arcs alluded to come to the fore.

With the recent news of Marvel’s deal with Netflix to develop a number of series based on lesser known street-level characters such as Daredevil and Luke Cage it’s well worth sticking with AoS and given time I have faith that it will more than fulfil its role as more than just filler between chapters of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe.

The bottom line:  Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is easy going and enjoyable entertainment and whilst there’s potential for improvement, it’s a perfectly watchable companion to the Marvel Studios film series.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs in the UK on Fridays at 8pm on Channel 4.  US viewers can catch it Tuesday nights on ABC.

What did you think of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. so far?  Share your thoughts below! 

Also on Geek Blogger UK:

–          Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Pilot” review 

–          Thor: The Dark World review

The Versatile Blogger Award!

Award number 2!

Award number 2!

Not so long after receiving a Liebster Award nomination (you can read the acceptance piece for that here) I’m honoured and (damn lucky) to have received another award nomination courtesy of V over at top blog The Verbal Spew Review.

I humbly accept and once again would like to extend my thanks to V who had kindly also nominated GBUK for the LiebsterThe Verbal Spew Review is a fun, thought provoking and all-round good read presented with its own unique voice and style.  V is also very welcoming and supportive of fellow bloggers and will always take the time to respond to your comments and check out your very own blogs.  If you haven’t come across The Verbal Spew Review yet I can’t recommend it highly enough.

I’m still amazed that there are people out there reading and even enjoying my stuff (if this is your visit then a massive hello to you and thanks for stopping by!).  Admittedly I’ve been rather busy of late with a new job which has left me with less time and little attention for the blogsphere.  If I haven’t stopped by your blogs in a while please accept my apologies, it’s going to take me a little bit of time to catch up (I also need to log in to the Twitter account which I’ve been neglecting) and don’t worry I’m still aiming to produce at least one GBUK post every weekend so stick with me!

Anyway, I shall press on with this acceptance.  Firstly, the blogs I would like to nominate for the VBA (the rules of which can be viewed here):

I would like to stress that acceptance is purely at the discretion of the authors of those fantastic blogs and I won’t be offended if they don’t wish to participate (likewise if they do, I look forward to reading the responses) – it’s entirely up to you!

Now, on to the seven factoids.  As I’m not really all that interesting and wanting to maintain some relevance with this here geeky blog of mine you’ll find that they’re mainly statements of geekery (and perhaps they might invite debate?) with the odd personal fact thrown in for good measure – I am versatile after all:

  1. I was born in Prescot but have lived in Liverpool for the majority of my life (thus far).
  2. My favourite Star Trek series is the original.  Oh yes.
  3. I love Christmas but honestly loathe New Year.
  4. I have soft spots for Bond film Moonraker, the 1995 Sylvester Stallone Judge Dredd and the 1978 Battlestar Galactica: The Movie.
  5. I look approximately ten years younger than my actual age (my new co-workers are astonished).
  6. I’m still annoyed that Stargate Universe was cancelled.
  7. I prefer American Dad! to Family Guy.

 Well, that’s all for now – until next time, stay safe and keep watching the skies!

Film Review: ‘Thor: The Dark World’ (spoiler-free)

Starring:  Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins, Christopher Eccleston, Jaimie Alexander, Kat Dennings, Stellan Skarsgard

Directed by:  Alan Taylor / Written by:  Christopher L. Yost, Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely (story by Don Payne and Robert Rodat) / 120 minutes

What’s it about?

Thor must risk all to prevent Asgard’s deadliest enemy from unleashing a powerful force that will destroy life across the realms…

In review

With Kenneth Branagh’s Thor (2011), Marvel Studios once again served up a surprise hit that in a similar vein to Iron Man established a firm and popular screen presence for another of the lesser known characters from the Marvel pantheon.  Admittedly I’m not a fan of fantasy or ‘sword and sandal’ epics, I’ve never fully understood why but perhaps much like Tony Stark I prefer hardware and flawed human characters that I find more relatable.  I’d never read a Thor comic until I decided to give J. Michael Straczynski’s acclaimed run a go (around 2007/8 if I recall correctly) and found that I thoroughly enjoyed it thanks to decent characterisation and the blending of rich mythology with ‘real world’ elements.

I generally still can’t take to the fantasy/sword and sandal genre but with The Mighty Thor and his ties to the wider Marvel Universe, I gladly make an exception.  With the stage set by Mr. Branagh, director Alan Taylor (Game of Thrones) takes over the throne to helm Thor: The Dark World, the God of Thunder’s first post-Avengers Assemble outing.  It’s certainly a much grander production than the previous Thor (which was quite a grand venture itself), clearly benefitting from an increased budget in the wake of Avengers success – much as was the case with Iron Man Three.  This is a visually epic film with the rich detail and sweeping vistas of Asgard balanced against the more recognisable but no less breathtaking landscapes of the London set Earth-bound scenes.

The film’s narrative enriches the visual aspects, providing high stakes and action-packed thrills with a smattering of romance, charm and humour that complement the dramatic elements without undermining them.

Chris Hemsworth makes a confident return as the iconic Marvel hero and presents a wiser, slightly more seasoned Thor fighting to bring order to the Nine Realms, supported by companions Lady Sif (Alexander) and the ‘Warriors Three’ Volstagg (Ray Stevenson), Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) and replacing Josh Dallas is a post-Chuck Zacahry Levi as Fandral – who sadly is given little to do here.

Natalie Portman again deftly balances the sensitive and intellectual attributes of Jane Foster (who’s not afraid to slap a god in the face) and figures significantly in the grand scheme of things.

Kat Dennings enjoys (and certainly makes the most of) an enlarged role as the zany Darcy, facilitating a number of the film’s fun comical moments some of which also involve a rambling (and nude) Stellan Skarsgard as the previously brainwashed (see Avengers Assemble) Dr. Erik Selvig.

I initially had trepidations about Christopher Eccleston as the vengeful Dark Elf, Malekith (a role that was originally set to be played by Mads Mikkelsen) but I was pleased to find that he executed the part rather well and his performance is bolstered by some good make-up/prosthetic work.

But, once again, the true star of the show is Tom Hiddleston who gives another wicked yet complex turn as Loki, chastised and imprisoned by Odin (Sir Anthony Hopkins).  Hiddleston carries with him a Shakespearean air and could easily carry a film of his own – ‘nuff said.

So, ultimately, is The Dark World better than the first Thor?  Quite possibly is all I can say for now, as I’ve said it’s certainly bigger in scope and the threat is a sizeable and substantial one but I do have a weakness for heroic origin stories and feel that there is perhaps more emotional resonance within Branagh’s film.  All in all though it’s another reliable hit from Marvel Studios and whilst I may favour other Marvel characters, I’ll always be open to the odd trip to Asgard.

The bottom line:  Thor: The Dark World is an epic, exciting and fun piece of comic book entertainment and serves up healthy doses of all you would expect from a Marvel film.  Ensure you stay for both the mid-credits and post-credits scenes!

Thor: The Dark World is in cinemas across the UK now and is released in the States on 8th November.

What did you think of Thor: The Dark World?  Share your spoiler-free thoughts below!

Marvel's mighty thunder god returns confidently in Marvel Studios' 'Thor: The Dark World'.

Marvel’s mighty thunder god returns confidently in Marvel Studios’ ‘Thor: The Dark World’.