Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D - The Hub
A regular guest star on American TV, Saffron Burrows, pops up in this week's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Only a couple of weeks back she was in The Crazy Ones as an object of some male attention, and she has made many such entries onto the small screen, my favourite being her season or so on Boston Legal. There she played an attorney with a dark secret and a neck that obsessed both Alan Shore and Denny Crane. This worked very well as Burrows' image is extraordinary - startlingly beautiful, giraffe elegant, and, above all, exceptional.Which brings me to the subject on review. The ABC network was so sure this series would be a hit that they ordered a full season very early on, but its audience stateside falls from episode to episode and square-eyed comic book fans are not impressed. You see, the draw of this stuff is the fact that all of our big movies currently live in this universe where Gods, genetically altered superheroes and that man in the flying suit all reside. Yet here we are seven episodes into a world that has proved disturbingly prosaic with soap opera tendencies and predictable, easily vanquished villains of the week.
To create some intrigue, we have a resurrected Agent Coulson, a newbie team member with dubious motives and some workplace crushes. This is all wrapped around the end story of The Avengers movie with very occasional nods to the other Marvel movies with cameos from the likes of Samuel L Jackson and Cobie Smulders. Yet, this has proved too little and disturbingly dull so far. Only in episode 3 with an origin story for a later villain and some proper spy action did the show elevate my pulse rate."The Hub" continues the early season fleshing out of the team by sending boffin Fitz out on a dangerous mission with Agent Shaw, the resident team hunk. They have to stop some breakaway separatist terrorist from using some tech...world war 3, yadda yaddy yak. In conventional TV format, the rest of the team worry about them and Sky hacks into Shields computers and discovers that the mission is even more dangerous than we thought and that the swan necked Agent Hand has kept information from Agent Coulson - queue 1:1 confrontation with the diminutive Clark Gregg armed with his trusty stepladder.
The tone is also wildly uneven as the previously restricted Sky digs into more secrets, the underused Simmons shoots a senior officer and slapstick around enduring torture makes up the running time. Above all, there are some serious cracks appearing in the concept. Sky is told to trust in the system, to give up her independent mind and accept S.H.I.E.L.D. as a benevolent overseer, yet clearly Coulson's team are playing by their own quickly re-written rulebook.I suppose this could be because a sub-plot of double agents will follow but I wonder if it's more evidence of lazy writing that hides behind the branding of the show. The lack of excitement is mirrored in the two main arching plot-lines of the show - just how did Coulson survive his death and what is the truth behind Sky's origins. The problem with both is I am not too bothered by either character and would be far more interested if the series developed some credible nemesis or an Arch-villain of its own instead. The whole new crew in training thing is wearing thin and the lack of depth to the characters and weak obvious stereotyping makes the whole thing as distinctive as processed cheese.