Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t need fixing, just patience

Entertainment Weekly ran an article today about “How to fix ‘Agents of SHIELD’”, which brought up many of the common complaints about Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. along with a variety of suggestions for how the show to improve.  I’ve spent some time perusing forums and comment sections and have seen most of these complaints before, and I thought I’d take some time to answer some of them.  I should preface this by saying that I’m hardly an unbiased observer.  I’m already attached to SHIELD, and I’m obviously enjoying it.  I want to see it succeed, but even more than that I want the writers and creators to tell the story they want to tell without trying to bow to internet grumblings.  (This would obviously be different if the show had a problem of a social variety, such as racism, misogyny or a negative attitude towards LGBT issues.  I would say that the show is pretty darn white, though of the 6 leads one actor is Chinese and another is half Chinese, so that’s something at least.  As for LGBT characters, I have faith in Joss and company if not in ABC, considering it took huge ensemble show Once Upon a Time three seasons before we got an LGBT character.)  Suffice to say I’m invested in SHIELD and I think it’s doing a lot of things right, and while I’m not a big fan of audience blaming I think some of the criticism is unfair and shortsighted.

Before I get to addressing Darren Franich’s specific complaints/suggestions, I should say that I think SHIELD’s creators have a different approach to “genre” television than what is commonly seen on TV in the 2010’s and what audiences expect from “genre” television in general these days.

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Star Wars Prequels: A Good Foundation for the New Trilogy

I’ve never had a spot on the anti-Star Wars prequels bandwagon.  When The Phantom Menace came out in 1999, I was 14 and a huge Star Wars fan.  I was too young at the time to go to a midnight showing, so I had to wait all day to see the film that evening, and I could not sit still.  By the time the 20th Century Fox fanfare started playing, I was in tears, and stayed that way through most of the film.  I remember everyone in the theater enjoying it immensely, laughing and cheering throughout, and I saw it again two days later.  Needless to say, I’m a Star Wars fanboy, and while my 28 viewings of the Star Wars saga films in the theater are not anything close to a record, it’s safe to say that I was in no way disappointed by the prequels.

With the announcement that Disney and Lucasfilm will be making (at minimum) Episodes VII-IX, many people have found themselves revisiting that last Star Wars films that were released, giving the internet new justification for one of its favorite pastimes: prequel bashing.  Many of these have been presented as “Lessons J.J. Abrams Can Learn from the Prequels” containing a list of grievances against the film.  IGN recently featured an article of this type, and I want to address some of its complaints.  I’m going to do my best to set aside my fanboyism because I truly feel that Episodes I-III are great films, and have been unfairly maligned in the last 14 years.
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Thoughts on Harry Potter

Before the final Harry Potter movie comes out, I want to try to explain what it means to me. It’s a difficult task; the story and the universe J.K. Rowling created are vast and intricate, with rich and real characters and story moments that cover every conceivable emotion, and it’s difficult to find the words to relate just how I feel here at the end. Her story is one of death and loss hand in hand with love and triumph. It is both funny and shocking, both tragic and uplifting. It has drawn, and continues repeatedly to draw, more tears from my eyes than I can count, of joy and sorrow combined. Once I connected to the story it was a part of me; the characters now have a permanent grip on my heart. It’s something that will be with me for the rest of my life, and has had a profound impact on me in ways I’m not sure I fully understand. I’m doing my best not to overstate things here, but the Harry Potter story is, for me personally, one of the most influential and lasting experiences I’ve encountered.

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The Pirates of the Caribbean Film Trilogy: An Apprecitation: Part 1

Although it may seem like heresy to say it, I have to admit that I like the Pirates of the Caribbean film trilogy more than The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  Don’t get me wrong, I love both.  I also wouldn’t argue for a second that POTC is better than LOTR, it’s just that I like and enjoy one more than the other.  Sure, some of this comes down to personal preference.  It’s no secret that pirates (in a classical sense) and the open sea appeal to me, and that I’m a huge Disney fan, but there’s more to it than that.  I’ve read the Lord of the Rings books many times, including all of the appendices.  I’m a big fan.  But given the choice of what to watch, nine times out of ten I’ll pick Pirates.  My hope is that, in addition to proving that I’m crazy, this essay will encourage you to give Pirates of the Caribbean another chance, with an open mind, and will help you appreciate some things you might have missed before. Continue reading

The Pirates of the Caribbean Film Trilogy: An Apprecitation: Part 2

(click here to read part 1 of this analysis)

“A lost bird that never learned to fly.”

When discussing the characters of Pirates of the Caribbean, one must begin with Captain Jack Sparrow.  He is undoubtedly the main character of the story, even if it is not, in fact, his story being told.  I’ve always viewed Jack as the one doing the story telling.  He may be the one who is on screen the most, and he certainly is the catalyst for much of the story’s progression, but the movies aren’t really about him.  Jack Sparrow is certainly not your standard movie hero.  He’s not brave or courageous, he’s often selfishly motivated and while he’s not afraid of a fight, he’d much rather find another solution.  Perhaps the best word to describe him is witty.  Jack gives you the sense that he’s always the smartest person in the room, but is happiest when no one knows it. Continue reading