Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Marvel's Agent's of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 4 Review

Tonight's episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was enjoyable, because for the first time in a while (or so the show history goes) Phil Coulson stepped out from behind the desk of Director and went back into the field, playing a little game of reconnaissance and acquisition with Agent May.

Now of course normally Coulson would leave this kind of work to his agents, but this time, the mission requires a direct touch. The target, a painting that survived a parish fire that is being auctioned off. Now the painting itself is not what is important, but it is what is carved into the back of the painting. Alien symbols, like the ones from the obelisk and the ones that Coulson was carving into the walls. Lines and circles all joined together in various patterns that mean something, but as of now, not even we (the audience) can ascertain to what the symbols mean.

It was highly enjoyable to watch Coulson and May work together, their romantic banter when they were in character as a wealthy couple, their serious moments when they were all business scanning the room for HYDRA Agents or keeping an eye on out Glenn Talbot to make sure he doesn't spot them and blow the whistle on the entire operation.

This stood out, because as I said, it put Coulson out in the field, away from the tasks and work that come with heading a very fledgling S.H.I.E.L.D. It was fun and refreshing to see him out in the world, doing the whole secret agent thing again. It made me think back to the old 'Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.' comics from Marvel's halcyon days of the 1960s, back when the spy genre was a big deal in American culture, in movies and TV shows and also in comics. That was a new and exciting time for Fury, he was thrust from the world of being a war character into the dangerous and thrilling world of being a secret agent, going up against powerful and dangerous foes, armed with the latest high tech gizmos and gadgets in a new war against evil.

That's part of what is making this second season so enjoyable for me as a fan and as a reviewer. Its a "brand new" S.H.I.E.L.D. in so much as they are having to start out from scratch in a lot of ways. They may know their enemy, but they are not in the fighting trim they were before the events of "The Winter Soldier". Its a whole new ballgame, or as Baron Strucker stated at the end of the "Winter Soldier" film, "It's not a world of spies anymore. Not even a world of heroes. This is the age of miracles...and there is nothing more horrifying." And Strucker is not wrong.

This new world, this new game that S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA are now playing, it is not just to gain ground in weapons or even political power, it is now about gaining a hold on people and machines that could tip the scales to either side, upset the balance in ways that the fictional Marvel movie/TV-verse could not even begin to imagine. How those scales are tipped, well, we shall just have to see as the season progresses. 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Gotham Episode 4 Review

Tonight's episode of 'Gotham' was bloody, dramatic, filled with questions and excitement and so much more. If there was ever any proof that 'Gotham' is a show that is re-telling the beginnings of many of the people from the Batman legend in a proper way, this episode is that proof.

The main crux of the episode is the feud between the Falcone and Maroni crime families over who will gain the rights to take the old Arkham Asylum and the surrounding neighborhoods, and reinvigorate them with new life. Part of the fueled feud is the death of two Gotham City councilmen, both on opposite sides of the vote, who have been killed by an independent contractor. Gordon and Bullock set out to do some good old fashioned police work, and in doing so, put themselves up against a man who is being paid to start an all out war between Gotham's two biggest crime families.

Meanwhile, Oswald Cobblepot is busy as well. Not only does he manage to rise through the ranks of the Maroni crime family this episode, and place himself within a position of some power, close to Don Maroni, he has made his petition to Jim Gordon that with the crime war coming, he will need help, the kind of help Oswald can provide.

As for Bruce, he is of course active in his own way in this episode, trying to find a link between his parents deaths and the situation that is brewing over Arkham. Already we see the beginnings of the detective within the boy, which will of course one day earn him the moniker World's Greatest Detective.

All in all, this episode, like the others before it, brought drama, character and plot development, and opened up another door within the Batman universe that is being formed and in many ways, rewritten for TV. Whatever the end result will be when the show reaches its final conclusion, I for can not wait to see what that result will be.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 3 Review

Once more unto the breach our dear friends at S.H.I.E.L.D. are thrown, and this time an old familiar face is there to help the charge. Tonight's episode see's the return of Simmons, who has undertaken a mission from Coulson that is both dangerous and highly in-depth. Simmons has apparently been tasked by Coulson to infiltrate HYDRA, learn anything that can be used to help S.H.I.E.L.D. in their new struggle against the terrorist organization. And in tonight's episode, an exciting adventure unfolds.

HYDRA has a new target, and his name is Donnie Gill. Fans of the show will remember Donnie, the bright kid from the S.H.I.E.L.D. Academy back in Season 1 who tried to make a machine that would bring about a small ice storm and take out his intellectual rivals at the Academy. Well now he's back, sporting freezing powers, and HYDRA wants him.

So its up to Simmons to do all she can to make sure HYDRA keeps their hands off Donnie, while unbeknownst to her, a S.H.I.E.L.D. team is making sure of the same thing.

There's a lot of character development in this episode, we see how much Simmons has changed in her term playing secret spy for Coulson, we see that Fitz is trying to regain control of his mind, and we also see Skye attempting to work past her own personal issues for the good of the team.

Also, overarching plot development too. We are shown that Coulson is willing to take hold of any possible advantage against HYDRA he can muster, in order to make sure that they do not gain a foothold on the world. Also, a little peek at some of HYDRA's organizational structure in their renewed war against the forces of good. All in all, a very excellent episode for the beginnings of Season 2.

As the series progress's, it is my hope that we introduced more and more to other Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., old and new, who will continue to help the forces of good in the never ending battle for justice.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Gotham Episode 3 Review

Tonight's episode moved things forward for 'Gotham' in a big way. The main plot point of the episode is a vigilante who handcuff's corrupt members of Gotham's infrastructure to giant weather balloons and sends them aloft to die. The vigilante, labelled the "Balloonman" by the media, is intent on punishing the corrupt of Gotham, be they police or politician or businessman.

Gordon and Bullock are on the case, tracking down leads and eventually apprehending the culprit. A very straight-forward question asked by the vigilante to Gordon is "Who will you work to save?", a question that is sure to make an impact on Jim Gordon in his later years.

The episode once again focuses its attention on Bruce Wayne, and shows that Alfred is attempting to help the boy maintain a normal life, despite all that has happened to him. Coupled with that is Bruce's growing interest in the affairs of Gotham, something that will of course become part of his identity as Batman in the future.

A third major plot point is Oswald's actual return to Gotham. He finds employment at an Italian restaurant owned by Don Sal Maroni, Carmine Falcone's rival for control of Gotham City. Oswald manages to keep his head down, and even finds a friend in Sal Maroni. Here it shown that Oswald has a plan in mind on how to facilitate his revenge on both Fish Mooney and Carmine Falcone.

All the while, we also see Barbara Kean's continued support of Jim, despite Detective Renee Montoya's continued pestering that Jim isn't all that he appears to be, coupled with the fact that at one point Renee and Barbara were apparently an item.

 I enjoyed this episode because it showed Jim and Harvey engaged once again in actual police work, tracking down leads, compiling clues etc. Bruce is developing as a character and person, despite his young age, it is starting to become a tad too obvious of his intent to want to make a difference for Gotham City. The best character so far in terms of appearing genuine, cut from the same cloth as his comic book counterpart, is Oswald Cobblepot. Oswald had a specific quote in the first episode, that a war was coming. And it is now quite apparent, that Oswald will somehow be a major part in that war, with the intention of coming out on top as the new crime king of Gotham City.

Next week's episode promises to be a good one, since throughout tonight's episode, there were minor references made to 'the old Arkham place', which can only mean that the infamous Arkham Asylum will soon be opening its door again. And if the nut house is opening back up, that means the nuts will surely come in droves to Gotham. Probably not as bad as the future Rouges Gallery that Bruce will face as Batman, but certainly enough to give Gordon and Bullock a run for their money. So let next week's episode come, and with it, a brand new review.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Episode 2 Review

To say that 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' is intent on making sure its second season sticks firmly in the minds of viewers is an understatement. Something to examine with the new show is that Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. have to contend with two forms of opposition, that of HYDRA and that of Glenn Talbot and his obsession with bringing the reformed and fledgling S.H.I.E.L.D. to book.

In the comics Talbot (created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby) was just as obsessed with catching the Hulk as General "Thunderbolt" Ross. While he is not cast in the light of straight up villain, he is here to stay as both an opponent for Coulson and his team, and as a foil. And he really scratches that classic Marvel Comics itch.

As far as villains go, we are not short of them. In addition to the Absorbing Man, there is also HYDRA superior Daniel Whitehall's right man Bakshi, who is determined to keep the team from maintaining world order.

One thing to note, is the continued hinting at the Kree (major Marvel alien race) and their involvement in the Earth's affairs. The writing that appears upon the Obelisk from episode 1 is clearly Kree. This, and the Kree corpse from Season 1, and any mysteries surrounding Skye and Coulson's 'abilities' brings up the possibility that they will become versions of the Inhumans within the confines of the Marvel M-verse.

Despite the dearth of villains that appeared in this episode, I enjoyed it immensely. There was a healthy balance of good writing with fast pacing, so I never once felt bored. As the season progress's, I look forward to each new episode and what it brings.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Gotham Episode 2 Review

For a second episode of a brand new TV series, 'Selina Kyle' hits the mark in terms of intense story and furthering character development.

The main plot of the story is thus: Gotham's homeless children are being abducted by a man and a woman, collecting them to sell overseas to a mysterious figure known only as the Dollmaker. Selina Kyle, in her usually clever way, manages to escape the clutches of these two vile persons, and aids Jim Gordon and Harvey Bullock in the detainment of them, and the rescue of the children.

One thing to examine from this episode is Jim Gordon's appeal to Gotham and her citizens as a 'hero cop'. Even the Mayor begrudgingly accepts Gordon's usefulness on the force, because Gordon generates good press for both the police department and his office. Despite the fact that there is a long way to go before Jim will attain the lofty position of Commissioner, here we can see the seeds being planted of his determination to make a genuine difference, for both the city and the department.

A secondary point to examine from tonight's episode, is the furthering of Gordon and Bruce Wayne's relationship. Alfred comes to Gordon to have him talk to Bruce, to try and help him get out of this mental quagmire of fear he is in. Gordon appeals to Bruce as a friend, telling him that there is no shame in being afraid, that it makes people stronger and better.

A third and final point in this episode, is the fate of Oswald Cobblepot since he was told by Gordon to stay away from Gotham. He is shown hiding out, recovering his strength, before he will begin his inevitable return to Gotham City, and begin to work making his own way in the city, starting his own empire of crime.

This second episode does well in furthering character development as previously stated. Jim, Bruce, Oswald, all of them are show changing in this episode, be it Bruce conquering fear, Jim attempting to conquer corruption in the name of change, or in the case of Oswald, conquering any self-doubt he would have had about his 'mission' to make Gotham his own.

This show never ceases to make me smile, with its writing, its pace, its characters and its obvious intent to help establish the people who will eventually become major figures in Gotham, be they hero or villain.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Agent's of SHIELD Season 2 Premier

Having just finished watching episode 1 of "Marvel's AoS" Season 2, all I can say is wow. Clearly they are going to be upping the, well everything. We open with Coulson and SHIELD (such as it is) struggling to maintain a foothold in the fight to take down the remaining HYDRA cells in the world, while getting themselves in order as what could be described as SHIELD 2.0. For Phil Coulson, that means taking on the duty given him to by Nick Fury at the end of Season 1, to be the new head of SHIELD. So far, since they can't risk taking out "The Bus" since it doesn't have cloaking technology, that means Coulson has to fly coach in his various around the world jaunts to recruit allies, gain new technological toys for SHIELD's agents, and also obtain intel about HYDRA's various placements.

Audiences are also introduced to a mercenary team headed by Isabelle Hartley (Lucy Lawless), who has been thus far working with Coulson and SHIELD. But they've got a mole on their squad. Marvel Comics supervillain Absorbing Man aka George "Crusher" Creel (Brian Patrick Wade), is in their midst, gathering intel for HYDRA, who seem to be calling the shots for the infamous bad guy. When word gets out that HYDRA is searching for another 0-8-4 artifact (just like back in Season 1 when everyone jumped on "The Bus" and flew to South America for some old HYDRA tech). But this isn't any old 0-8-4, its the FIRST 0-8-4 that was ever recovered by SHIELD, making it a prize worthy of HYDRA's attention. In the grand game of deception to infiltrate the military facility that holds the 0-8-4, Coulson and his team have to kidnap now Brigadier General Glenn Talbot (Adrian Pasdar), in order to obtain his voice patterns and fingerprints to play a little game of hacking to fly under the radar. The 0-8-4 of course turns out to be more then the team imagined, and sadly HYDRA gets away with the goodies.                          

For everyone who came into Season 2 expecting it to follow the same slow pattern that started Season 1, I hope you were surprised. Everything about this first episode made me smile, the action, the new characters, the return of old characters, the dialogue, all of it was awesome. I get the sense that Season 2 will be stronger in terms of all aspects, and I for one can not wait to see what new adventures everyone at SHIELD will face.