Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD Season One DVD ReviewSeptember 23, 2014
Marvel has been known to make some risky moves – just look at the interwoven Marvel Cinematic Universe and the recent Guardians of the Galaxy film – but Agents of SHIELD’s fate on TV was definitely uncertain. Even before the first episode premiered, the hype was extraordinary, due to Joss Whedon’s prestigious TV resume and the phenomenal success of 2012’s The Avengers. With Agents of SHIELD revolving around a team played by relative unknowns and led by a character who was inexplicably back from the dead, it was interesting to see how the fans reacted. This was Marvel’s first TV series, and there was a lot riding on it. Now the first season of the show has made its way to Blu-ray and DVD, so if you missed it last fall on television, now’s your chance to catch up.
While a vocal minority of its audience seemed intent on declaring Agents of SHIELD a failure from the start, the show slowly but surely found its footing. Interesting characters from the comics were introduced (most notably Deathlok), the cast found their groove, and the mix of cinematic action and Whedon-esque humor felt good. Overall, it was a fun show but hardly must-watch TV. That all changed when Captain America: The Winter Soldier made its way into theaters, as plot points began to pay off, characters suddenly became more three dimensional, and the thrills and action ramped up to an incredible degree. In short, the first and second halves of Agents of SHIELD almost feel like two different shows, and it’s obvious the series was held back by having to wait for Cap 2’s release early in the season, where a lot of filler episodes took place.
There was no way that Agents of SHIELD would not be affected by the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The revelation that HYDRA had infiltrated SHIELD at the highest level after being dormant for almost 70 years was something the show would simply be unable to ignore. As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened for the show, which felt like it was spinning its wheels before this point. The thrill of knowing that someone on the team was working for HYDRA certainly ramped up the tension, and really gave the actors something to bite into. From the game-changing “Turn, Turn, Turn” to the climactic finale “The End of the Beginning”, it was impossible to stop watching Agents of SHIELD. It was great fun to see Maria Hill, Lady Sif and Nick Fury make a few cameos, with the original actors reprising their roles (yes, even Samuel L. Jackson!). Bill Paxton’s turn as Agent Garrett was especially compelling, and it was obvious that he was having a great time with the role. The revelations behind how exactly Agent Coulson was brought back from the dead were especially interesting.
The DVD set of Agents of SHIELD Season One packs a respectable amount of features, beginning with five Behind The Scenes Field Reports. We get a look at some of the action and stunt work from the episodes, including Chloe Bennett’s leap out of a building into a pool, the massive explosion from “The Bridge”, and the Lady Sif/Lorelei bar fight battle from “Yes Men”. There’s also a hilarious blooper reel, interesting visual FX breakdowns, as well as the 43-minute featurette “Assembling a Universe”, which shows how the Cinematic Universe was slowly built up and interwoven beginning with the events of the first Iron Man film. There’s also audio commentaries with the filmmakers and cast, and a few deleted scenes. Rounding out the features is “Journey Into SDCC”, which shows the cast’s first foray into the insane world of San Diego Comic Con, documenting a few funny mishaps on the way to the panel.
While Agents of SHIELD got off to a bit of a rocky start, the show really found its way around the midpoint of Season One. The shackles were broken, the cast had some real chemistry, and the plot became exciting and engaging on a regular basis. All reports are pointing toward Agents of SHIELD upping the ante for Season Two, so now’s a good time to pick up this DVD set and get caught up.