Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season One on DVD/Blu-ray

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Marvel's Agents of SHIELD Season One on DVD

It just goes to show, you can't always trust the critics. I hadn't watched any of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. because I'd heard from some corners -- comic-fan corners, mind you! -- that the show was not just underwhelming, it was actually bad.

Now that I've got the entire first season to review, I think that the critics were wrong -- mostly. And, yes, I get the inherent irony of my saying that -- I'm completely up on the Epimenides paradox. So with the second season debuting tonight, you've got a few hours to go pick this up and cram like mad to get up to speed.

The series takes place almost immediately after "Marvel's The Avengers" (and I'm probably getting as tired as most of having to put "Marvel's" in front of all the titles). It's a changing world, now that the population knows there are people out there with super powers. But it's not the Marvel universe of the comics in that the world is absolutely crowded with them. They're still something of a rarity, and some powers are still considered impossible to have. The overarching mystery involves the team's leader, Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), who many will remember died in the movie and thus provided the impetus for the heroes to band together and stave off the alien invasion. How Coulson was revived provides a lot of fodder for the episodes, but it's not the only long-running subplot.

The rest of the team consists of super-agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), operations specialist Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), and the science team collectively known as Fitzsimmons -- Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge). New to the team is a female hacker known only as Skye (Chloe Bennet), who is initially tracked down and captured for her activities with a cyber-anarchist group, and who has a historical connection to S.H.I.E.L.D. that she wants to explore.

The series includes some recurring characters, like Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) who slowly evolves into the Marvel character of Deathlok, Raina (Ruth Naiga) who works for the shadowy Centipede agency, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton) who plays a major part in the turning point of the series.

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. isn't just a series based on the movies. It's intrinsically connected to the films -- so much so that this first season is literally the long, long trailer between "Marvel's The Avengers" and "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" (with a brief stopover at "Thor: The Dark World"). It doesn't stand apart from the others -- events in one have bearing on the other, and vice-versa. And once you realize that, the slow-burn of the subplots can be fully appreciated. And while it may not reference Spider-Man or the X-Men (because, you know, those pesky licensing issues), the Marvel Universe is populated enough with lesser characters that there are still plenty of heroes -- and villains -- to choose from to keep things interesting. And you never know when you might get a guest appearance by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) or the Asgardian Lady Sif (Jaimie Alexander).

To be sure, the series had its clunky moments. The "Tracks" episode especially was poorly written, with characters like Agent May talking to themselves to explain to the audience what she's doing. That's sloppy. But for the most part, the series holds up, the characters evolve nicely -- and in the last half of the season, things really get cooking with a cascade of surprises each episode leading up to a grand finale!

This five-disc DVD set includes an appearance by the cast at the San Diego Comic-Con, several behind-the-scenes peeks, bloopers, deleted scenes, and audio commentaries with the cast and/or crew.

Grade: 
4.0 / 5.0