Around the Water Cooler: “Once Upon a Time,” the Mid-Season Finale & Season 3 Progress Report (MAJOR SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: “Once Upon a Time” airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, Sundays at 8:00 PM (though, currently, it is on hiatus until March 2014).

What: “Once Upon a Time,” a fantasy drama wherein storybook and fairy tale characters are not only real but are living in this world, away from their enchanted kingdoms and worlds beyond reality, and how they all interrelate (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/once_upon_a_time/summary.html).

When: The Season 3 mid-season finale aired on Sunday, December 15, 2013, on ABC at 8:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in fictional Storybrooke, Maine, as well as in “The Enchanted Forest,” the fairy tale kingdom from where most of the main characters originate. The action takes place primarily in present day, though there are flashbacks to the characters’ past lives, before they were whisked away to Storybrooke via curse wrought by the Evil Queen Regina (Lana Parilla) and before they were made run-of-the-mill real world residents with serious bouts of amnesia.

Why: Two primary reasons: one, I love fantasy and fairy tales, and the Disney network green-lit a live action serial television program about fairy tale characters that they would probably own the rights to, if the characters weren’t already public domain.  Two, the creators are Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz, two of the head writers of Lost. Whatever else may be said about the latter program, I don’t think anyone could argue that Lost wasn’t well written.  Once boasted some whopper ingredients that promised to result in an explosive and tantalizing mixture of story possibilities; the show has done nothing but live up to that expectation and then some.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

Well.  Wow.  Phew.

Again, this blogger has delayed writing this particular entry because, frankly, there is so much to cover.  The revelations that have occurred so far this season on Once Upon a Time (OUAT for short) have been fast-coming, jaw-dropping, and amazing, so much so that I wasn’t quite sure where to begin for a time.

In addition, as of the mid-season finale, OUAT provided a cliffhanger that is on the level of Jack Shepard screaming “We have to go back!” on Lost, i.e. the episode that introduced flash forwards, the Oceanic 6, and the idea that some of the castaways escaped the island of smoke monsters and polar bears.  Only this show’s cliffhanger essentially rebooted the entire plot line of Once Upon a Time! Also, said cliffhanger could be compared to the end of Back to the Future, when Doc Emmett Brown appears in Marty McFly’s driveway and encourages him to hop into his flying Delorean and sail to the year 2015 to save his good-for-nothing children.  By the way – where are my flying car and hoverboard?  You’ve got one year, Mattel and…car-makers.  I digress.

The first half of season 3 squarely centered on the quest to #SaveHenry from the nefarious Peter Pan (Robbie Kay).  Emma (Jennifer Morrison), Captain Hook (Colin O’Donaghue), Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin), Prince Charming (Josh Dallas), and Regina as well as Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) banded together and followed Henry (Jared S. Gilmore), who had plummeted through a portal and landed in Never Land.  By engaging in a magical voyage aboard the Jolly Roger, sailing for the second star to the right and straight on til morning, our motley crew of heroes battled bratty Lost Boys, destructive mermaids, and a very mean Shadow while the other citizens of Storybrooke were left behind to await their return.  The two tricky humans who started all of this mess lost their lives early to an enraged Rumpel, who went off on his own with his own score to settle.  Plus, it seems Rumpel wasn’t interested only in self-protection.  This progress report will chart the revelations that the first half of this high octane, if uneven, season of OUAT provided for its loyal viewers before recapping the mid-season finale in its gloriously heart-wrenching entirety.

1) REVELATION 1: Peter Pan is Rumpelstiltskin’s father.

Oddly, it’s as if Luke Skywalker’s and Darth Vader’s roles were reversed.  Peter Pan, as it turns out, was tempted by the Shadow of Never Land to become the very, very selfish boy who never grew up.  Back in the day, Rump’s father was a lazy grifter of a single dad who saw his only son as a leech to his apparently numerous unrealized dreams (he liked to con people out of money, so money seemed to be what he was after most).  Yet, their village pretty much hated Rump’s dear papa, and Rumpel strangely learned about opening portals from two bitty spinsters his father began to abandon him with.  Eager for a fresh start, Papa agreed to join Rumpel in a spell to open a portal and found themselves in the magical Never Land, where Rump’s dad was given an offer he couldn’t refuse: become a flying lad with an unrivaled smugness, the leader of the island of misfit boys, and the protector of the Shadow, the Godfather of this apparently evil place.  The Shadow magicked Rump’s very adult papa into the brat imp we’ve come to know as Pan and then hauled poor Rumpel away, crying for his father, who, by his own admission to anyone who would listen, including lead Lost Boy henchman Felix, never really loved his son.  No wonder Rump turned out the way he did!

2) REVELATION 2: Baelfire, aka Neal, still loves Emma.

Baelfire (or Nealfire’s) fall through the same portal as Henry actually brought him back to the Enchanted Forest.  There, he encountered Aurora, Mulan, Prince Philip, and Robin Hood, all of whom helped Bae to summon the Never Land Shadow, when he figured out that Emma, Henry, and the rest were in Never Land thanks to the magical artifacts still roaming about his dad’s former castle (where apparently Robin Hood took up residence with his adorable son).  The shadow whisks him away to Never Land, where he meets up with his father first, though the Shadow and Pan trick Bae into believing that Rumpel is up to his old tricks.  Eventually, he reunites with Emma and the others for several barrier-causing adventures, including saving the Wendy of the Peter Pan storybooks, still a now kidnapped child who is being searched for by her now grown up brothers John and Michael; helping Charming to cast off a spell chaining him to the accursed island, after he was poisoned with dream-shade by a Lost Boy arrow and drank the Never Land water to preserve his life in exchange for never departing the island; and saving Henry from certain death.  At one point, he confesses that he will never stop fighting for Emma. Unfortunately, he has to fight because he’s got competition.

3) REVELATION 3: Hook also loves Emma.

For Hook, it’s all about appreciating Emma’s earthier charms.  She’s a fighter, a survivor, and is unafraid to act a bit like a pirate to achieve her aims.  Hook fell for Emma, uh…hook, line, and sinker, but he knows her feelings for him are complicated by lingering feelings for Baelfire.

4) REVELATION 4: Pan may be Rumpel’s father, Baelfire’s grandfather, and, therefore, Henry’s great-grandfather, but he’s an evil, evil, selfish, no-good, bratty little urchin with too much magic at his disposal.

Why was Pan concerned about getting Henry’s heart, which he deemed to be the Heart of a True Believer?  He was right about the true believing part, because poor misguided Henry believes just about anything he hears, but he wanted Henry’s actual heart to stave off his death.  Seems the boy who never grows up is still somewhat mortal and was given borrowed time by the Shadow. Feeding Henry’s heart to a giant hourglass at the heart of Never Land ultimately appeased the Shadow, even though the use of Pandora’s Box, which Rumpel conveniently stored in his shop back in Storybrooke–which had to be retrieved by the Little Mermaid herself, Ariel, who was summoned to Never Land by Regina (she knows everyone!) because she can cross between worlds without the use of stupid things like portals–and a trick of Pan’s resulted in Pan and Henry switching bodies, and Pan Henry being trapped in the Box for some time.  Fortunately, Emma and Regina sniffed out the fact that their son was a bit off…and just in time. By the way: Pan took his Peter Pan moniker from the straw doll, which was Rumpel’s.  Rumpel called his doll Peter Pan.  Cruel twist of the knife there, dad.

5) REVELATION 5: Pan’s resentment against having a child (never mind the fact that he knocked up Rumpel’s mother) resulted in his intent to destroy Storybrooke and create a new Never Land – all because he hates his kid so much.

Henry Pan, i.e. Henry’s body with Pan’s soul, who was far more annoying than regular Pan, decided to enact revenge by planting a curse in the well in the Lost Wood with the intent of recreating Storybrooke into a new Never Land that he could control magically.  When our intrepid heroes discovered his aims, they were forced to band together again.  I’ll get to that in a second.

6) REVELATION 6: Villains don’t get happy endings.

Part of the brilliance of this show is that none of the characters are perfect, and none of them are strictly good or strictly evil as much as they are mostly good or mostly evil.  Snow was tempted to trick Regina into murdering her own mother, and her heart blackened.  Regina has been searching for redemption since season one, in an attempt to convince herself and everyone else, particularly Henry, that she is deserving of Henry’s love.  As it turns out, Regina didn’t procure specifically Henry to be her child on purpose.  After Regina’s run-in with the little boy who grew up and wanted to destroy magic, and after realizing (in an ingenious flashback episode) that creating a curse bringing fairy tale characters to the real world with forgotten identities meant she would be all alone in the end, Regina decided that she needed to be a mother and sought adoption. Fate, as in any good fairy tale, had its hand in introducing the Savior’s little boy to Regina, and it took her a few tries before motherhood actually stuck, but Regina’s quest, particularly this season, was to accept for herself that she could be a mother with unconditional love for the son she legitimately adopted to be hers.  Only in the end did she accept what Rumpel came to accept: villains, i.e. those who choose paths of evil and darkness, aren’t destined for happiness, even when they try to seek redemption for the horrors they’ve causedd.

So, let’s talk about the mid-season finale.

Henry Pan sacrifices Felix, his most loyal Lost Boy (after all the Lost Boys and Wendy were rescued by our band of heroes), to enact the curse starting in the well in the Lost Wood.  Felix, after all, shows undying loyalty for Pan, and loyalty, a type of unconditional love, was the missing ingredient.  Rumpel figures out what Pan is trying to do and also knows how to switch Henry and Pan back into their own bodies: by getting the Black Fairy’s wand, a wand with incredibly powerful dark magic.  Yet, the Blue Fairy, who is now dead thanks to the Shadow, hid the Black Fairy’s wand.  So, Charming, Hook, Baelfire, and Tinkerbell go to the town church with the intent of retrieving it but are confronted by the Never Land Shadow.  Yet, Tink, with the last bit of pixie dust, believes in herself long enough to light the coconut candle invented by Baelfire when he was a Lost Boy that traps the Shadow.  She flies up to greet it and traps the Shadow prior to incinerating him in an urn pyre. The Blue Fairy recovers her own shadow, originally taken by the Evil Shadow, and is resurrected.  She hands the Black Wand to Baelfire and reinstates Tink’s fairy status.

Back in Gold’s shop, Rumpel casts the spell, and Pan and Henry are recovered into their rightful bodies.  Henry emerges from the town library and is sniffed out by Granny.  He has the scroll with the original curse that Regina cast to create Storybrooke in his hand, as Pan was after the same scroll to start his own curse.  When Henry hands the scroll to his adoptive mother, Regina has a vision of the price of canceling her curse: the only way to stop Pan’s efforts from being successful.

In the meantime, Pan awakens in Gold’s shop, his devil’s spawn self again, and taunts his son. Rumpel’s attempts to foil Pan’s magic with the use of a bracelet taken from Tamara are useless: Pan created the bracelet and is immune to its effects.  Pan, instead, magicks the bracelet to his son’s wrist and beats him up, accusing him of likely reverting to the village coward without the aid of magic to protect him.

Pan finds Regina, Emma, Henry, Snow, Charming, Baelfire, Belle, and Hook in the town square by the library, freezes them into place, and threatens to kill his grandson and Belle, the two people Rumpel loves most.  Yet, Rumpel emerges victorious, willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice to protect those he loves.  Reminding his terrible father that he also does not have his shadow, he summons its return, as it carries the Dark One’s dagger, hidden by a spell of Rumpel in command of his shadow, to him.  Rump then stabs dear old dad in the back as they embrace; Pan reverts to the selfish, broken, pathetic man that was Rumpel’s father, while Rumpel ends both of their lives (seemingly) with one thrust of the dagger through both of their shoulders.  They disappear before the eyes of the now unfrozen heroes.

Belle’s tears don’t stop there.  Regina describes her vision and the price to be paid — if she reverses the curse, she reverses Storybrooke and all that has happened since its creation.  All of the fairy tale characters return to their respective homelands, while Henry, who was born in the real world, remains behind.  Regina tells Emma that she must run, to save herself and Henry, as the Savior she’s always meant to be.  Emma doesn’t want to leave her family behind: her parents, Snow and Charming; the father of her son, Baelfire; and the emerging lover Hook.  She doesn’t want Henry to be without his other mother, Regina, either.  Yet, Regina reminds her that there is no stopping Pan’s curse, which now threatens to overtake the entire town.  It is either revert to being fairy tales, or watch everyone be destroyed by the magical green smoke billowing over the sleepy Maine village.  Emma reluctantly agrees, but not without Regina promising to do what she did in the beginning: to alter Emma and Henry’s memories (since they will have lost the memories of everyone they came to know in Storybrooke), so that they remember always being together, always having a happy past, and so that they can forage ahead and create a happy future.  After many tears (including by this viewer – both times I saw it), Emma and Henry get into her yellow Volkswagen Beetle and drive away, their memories and the town-that-was disappearing into the mist.

The cliffhanger of all time begins with an episode postscript. Emma and Henry are enjoying a breakfast together in their New York City apartment, replete with hot cocoa topped with cinnamon, when Hook shows up at Emma’s door.  Though he tries, unsuccessfully, to jog her suspicious and forgotten memory with a kiss, Emma, not knowing who he is, threatens to call the cops.  She slams the door in his face, just as he says: “Your family is in trouble!  You have to save them!”

Before Rumpel met his apparent demise, Papa attempted to wheedle his son for extra years by promising a second chance at a happy ending together.  Rumpel responded sardonically, “Ah, but I’m a villain!  And villains don’t get happy endings,” before plunging the dagger into Papa’s back and his own shoulder.

Regina, as Henry tearfully apologized for causing all this magical trouble by finding his biological mom to begin with and doubting Regina’s love for him, assured him that none of the town’s troubles were his fault but were hers.  She cast the curse out of vengeance – she accepted Gold’s truth.  She’s a villain and can’t expect a happy ending.

Emma, saying tearful goodbyes to her same-aged mom and dad, wanted to take Henry into the Enchanted Forest with everyone else, but Regina said if she did so, the attempt to combat Pan’s curse wouldn’t work, as the price – i.e. Regina leaving behind the thing she loves most (Henry) – had to be paid.  Snow reminded Emma, as she reminded her grandson when she gave the “Once Upon a Time” storybook to him, that happy ends aren’t always what we expect.

To say that this is the most creative and riveting show on television right now doesn’t seem to quite do the show credit – and I don’t think this opinion of mine quite ranks to the status of being hyperbole.  Once Upon a Time has benefited from its writers’ and producers’ past experience.  The story arc that began 2.5 seasons ago ended the minute Storybrooke disappeared.  Now, Emma and Henry have to go back, like Jack and Kate did on Lost.  They have to get in that Delorean with Doc Brown (Hook, that is) and find a way to save the family they don’t remember.  Not only was the end of this chapter profound and deeply moving, but the possibilities to come can’t even be imagined by anyone outside the writers’ room. This is the hallmark of a brilliant program and story in its best years and seasons, and though the acting can be a bit melodramatic at times, the show is recommended to everyone.  It’s family friendly, full of life lessons, and completely engaging.  I don’t have a bad thing to say about it – though I am glad that the Never Land part of the story is finished.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Old Questions

1) Belle appeared to Rumpel in a magical vision in episode 2, as she is his true love and his tether to goodness and reality, in some senses.  Yet, isn’t she still amnesiac back in Storybrooke?  Isn’t she still Lacey, thanks to her unfortunate crossing of the village line?

Answer: I don’t remember when Lacey remembered that she is Belle, but she does now.  I can say that the Belle that appeared to Rumpel in Never Land was the Shadow, playing tricks on him.

New Question: The show never addressed what the Shadow actually was or where it actually came from, and now it’s destroyed.  We know it’s evil, but why did it exist to begin with?  What was Never Land really, in the end?

2) In fact, how are our Storybrooke friends doing?  I miss the dwarfs, Granny, Red, Archie/Jiminy Cricket, Mother Superior Blue Fairy, and the others.  Also, fun fact: Cinderella in season 1 was played by the same actress who plays Sarah Newlin on True Blood.

Answer: They were living their lives in Storybrooke, but, as with our core group of heroes, they would be whisked back to the Enchanted Forest when Regina revoked the curse.

New Question: So, how are they faring now?  What does the Enchanted Forest look like, having never been cursed, since the revocation of the curse caused the effects to blip out of existence?  Or, is the Forest still destroyed as an after-effect, and do our characters remember everything (Hook certainly does)?  What has happened to our beloved characters in the eleven years of the lost memory and/or the one year since Storybrooke was no more?

3) What does Pan mean when he believes that Henry will choose to stay in Never Land?  Especially since Henry is pretty excited about his magical family reuniting.   Also, what’s with this business about needing the Heart of a True Believer?  I know he said that Never Land exists and operates on imagination, but wouldn’t that be the imaginations of several as in millions of believing kids?  What’s Henry’s part to play here?

Answer: Pan meant that Henry believed him, as the True Believer would, that if Henry didn’t give Pan his heart, Never Land and everything in it would be destroyed.  The Heart of a True Believer feeds the darkness of the Shadow and allows Never Land to survive, as it is a place of pure imagination, fueled by the imaginations of children the world(s) over.  Henry was an easy target for Pan – his (known) great-grandson and the product of several fairy tale lineages meant he is genetically gullible.  Fair enough.

4) Emma is oftentimes the voice of the audience – in episode 2, she bit back at her mom by suggesting that she and Charming couldn’t be her parents when they’re now the same age, and that circumstances meant they couldn’t be the family Snow and Charming envisioned.  Still, Emma has some serious traumas to work through: being an orphan, being a fairy tale, being magical, being in a weird symbiotic relationship with the Evil Queen – and how about that love triangle with Bae and flirtatious Hook?  Since it’s a win/win all around with those hot men, I’d say she’s a luckier woman than she thinks.

Answer: Emma has worked through some of those traumas.  She accepted being an orphan but also finding her family, and she began to believe in herself, as her mother encouraged her to do.  She also has, cautiously, accepted that she has the use of magic, and she’s used it a few times, and was even copacetic in the end with coexisting with Regina as one of Henry’s two moms.  The love triangle is still unresolved, however, especially since she doesn’t remember either Baelfire or Hook.  

New Question: What will happen when she sees these guys again?  Hook’s risky kiss might have damaged his quest for love a bit, but Emma finding these men again should be interesting.  What will fate reveal?

5) Despite the above, Emma and Bae, all the way!

Answer: I still vote for Bae, even though Colin O’Donaghue is a beautiful man. Emma does not need a shifty pirate in her life.  He is the bad boy.  Baelfire is the Lost Boy who found himself.  Plus, he’s Henry’s dad.

6) There are too many interesting tidbits and Easter Eggs to cover.   My only hope is that these writers, along with former Buffy head writer Jane Espenson, can keep on chugging and creating a truly magical Sunday night viewing experience.

Answer: Oh God, have they!

New Questions

1) The biggest question of all: how will Emma and Henry get into that Enchanted Forest, and what will happen to convince them that they are related to heretofore fictional characters?

-and-

2) Is Rumpelstiltskin aka Mr. Gold really dead?  I hope not!

PARTING SHOTS

Though I’m largely repeating myself here, Once Upon a Time continues its unmistakable reign as must-see television.  It’s family friendly and thrilling all at the same time.  It’s not perfect: the dialogue can be a little ham-fisted at times, and the special effects a bit questionable, but the creativity of this show and the attention to detail proffered by the writers makes it a truly magical hour of television each week.  Also, the Lost alums learned lessons from their prior job: while they keep the audience guessing, they know when to provide the key answers at the key times without it becoming frustrating or a story too big to rein in by the time all is said and done.   Hopefully, the show has a long life ahead of it.  This viewer believes, based on that last episode, that life just got quite a bit longer for this creative and satisfying program.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Once Upon a Time  was automatically ordered for a full season, as it is one of the network’s highest rated shows, so much so that a spin-off was created (see Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, though that show will likely be canceled).  Though nothing official has been announced, this viewer predicts additional season renewals because the program is one of the highest rated shows in its time slot; yet, the show is on hiatus until March 9, 2014, while ABC experiments with other programming.

I can’t wait until it returns.  I have to go back!!

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Around the Water Cooler: “The Originals,” Mid-Season/Season 1 Progress Report (SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who:  “The Originals,” currently airs on network TV, specifically on the CW, Tuesdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “The Originals,” a spin off of supernatural drama “The Vampire Diaries,” centered on the Original (i.e. very first) vampires, the Mikaelsons who first appeared on the latter show.  The surviving siblings are hybrid werewolf/vampire Niklaus (Joseph Morgan), his older brother Elijah (the super hot Daniel Gillies), and baby sister Rebekah (Claire Holt).

SYNOPSIS In a backdoor pilot during season 4 of The Vampire Diaries, the viewer learned that the Mikaelsons essentially helped to create New Orleans, and Klaus, running from various personal dilemmas including his own ego and Mystic Falls in general, returned to New Orleans where he encountered one of his progeny: Marcel, who has taken control of the French Quarter and has declared war on other supernatural beings, including a local coven of witches.  Klaus covets Marcel’s power and hold over the city; in the premiere, Elijah returns to New Orleans in pursuit of his brother, learning that a one-night stand he had with werewolf Hayley (Phoebe Tonkin) has resulted in her being pregnant.  This program follows Klaus and the other Original siblings as they work to protect their family and this unborn and unlikely child from the likes of egomaniac Marcel, Klaus’ prized pupil.

When: The mid-season finale aired on the CW, Tuesday, December 3, 2013, at 8:00 PM.  The show’s winter premiere aired on Tuesday, January 14, 2014, at 8:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in the Big Easy — New Orleans, Louisiana.

Why: Well, The Vampire Diaries is a darn good show, and with some of the same creative influence, including Executive Producer Julie Plec, as well as the charismatic Morgan and Gillies, there’s no reason The Originals can’t be just as juicy and delicious as the show from whence it spun.  Also, have I mentioned…vampires?  The non-sparkly kind?  Played by ridiculously handsome men?  With accents?

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

The Originals ultimately has become one of this viewer’s new favorite shows of the season.  While it does not run on the fuel of teenage angst and love triangles that characterize its parent show, The Vampire Diaries, the producers/writers have rightly capitalized on the charisma of Morgan and Gillies and the sweeping epic and mixed tragedy of the Original vampires’ history, in which they have lived 1000 years, somewhat unwillingly, and all with various degrees of longing for normalcy, such as they can obtain as all-powerful vampires, or a werewolf/vampire hybrid, as in the case of Klaus.

Sociopath Klaus has run the gamut of emotions for the first half of this season.  First, he was concerned with taking back New Orleans from his progeny Marcel, who rules the French Quarter via backdoor deals with human politicians and via keeping other supernatural beings at bay with the help of an all-powerful witch named Davina.  Klaus focused on reclaiming a house built by the Mikaelsons in the early twentieth century, which he somehow considers their true “home,” which Marcel appropriated for his compound of vampires.  Klaus machinated to produce Elijah, stabbed by a white oak dagger, for Marcel’s keeping in exchange for playing Marcel for information and pretending to be the old friends they were decades before.  Rebekah, who insisted that she came to New Orleans at Elijah’s behest only for the purpose of protecting Klaus’ unborn child, considered this an ultimate betrayal.

When Elijah was, more or less, saved by deal with Davina, promising spells from the Mikaelsons’ mother’s grimoire in exchange for his freedom, Rebekah and Elijah confronted Klaus, whose rage is then visited on Marcel in a climactic confrontation.  Klaus ousts his siblings from their other mansion and communicates his intent to rule, while Rebekah rekindles her love affair with Marcel, which was, at one time, forbidden by the overprotective and jealous Klaus.  Rebekah, more or less, declares war on her brother, except that Marcel chooses to pledge loyalty to the newly victorious Klaus in an effort to protect the vampires he has sired.

Elijah, in the meantime, continues to look after Hayley, pregnant with Klaus’ baby, who is both cursed and connected to witches and looking for her lost family of werewolves, who are hinted to be living in the Bayou.  In addition, some of the werewolves who have migrated to this bayou are apparently part of a genetic line related to Klaus’ biological father (as he was produced by an affair between his mother and a werewolf).  Though Elijah and Rebekah discover this information and provide it to Klaus in an effort to make peace, he waxes on about his betrayal by his siblings, as Elijah and Rebekah accuse Klaus of putting his machinations ahead of their welfare again.  Elijah apologizes to Klaus, offering an olive branch in the winter finale, and maintaining hope that Klaus can be saved.

In the meantime, Klaus toys with Cammie, a bartender and degreed psychology major, to whom Marcel is initially attracted. She is plucky, determined, and unafraid of Klaus, but Klaus continually compels her to forget their interactions and discussions of the supernatural world. Her uncle is the priest Kieran, who oversees the abbey in which Marcel hides Davina for months from her coven, which was intent on sacrificing her to the witch’s “harvest,” while she grows ever-more powerful, without the anchoring magic of that ritual.  Cammie’s identity has been created by the loss of her twin brother, who was hexed by witches and ultimately took innocent lives, and who was ultimately murdered himself.

The web of The Originals is, at times, more complicated and more intricately spun than The Vampire Diaries, partially because Klaus’ unpredictability and longstanding fear of abandonment, propagated by his adoptive father, creates twists and turns and true mystery.  His heart is never fully unmasked, even to the audience, except through the eyes of Cammie, who he clearly cares for, but he cannot allow her to see the full truth of the horrors he has wrought in his lifetime. Rebekah would be a superfluous character, except that she serves to shine the light of truth, in blunt fashion, for her brothers and her lover, Marcel.  Elijah is the Angel of this outfit, seeking redemption for his brother, through possible fatherhood if not somehow convincing Klaus to (finally) relinquish his behavioral patterns.  Hayley is a trapped pawn, scrappy and with determination to survive, so she can gain some clue to her past, while Marcel, who was initially set up to be the villain but, as it turns out, is ultimately another pawn in Klaus’ master chess match, looks toward the future and survival of the inhabitants of his former empire.  The humans in the town bluster, and attempt an attack with heavy artillery, but Klaus does not suffer these antics long.

The story ultimately centers on the possibility of Klaus’ redemption: Elijah hopes for it and believes it is not lost; Rebekah wants it but believes it is impossible; and Klaus can’t decide if it’s worth pursuing, knowing all of the horrific things he has done in his considerable lifetime, and finding himself more apt to agree with his sister.  The character of Klaus straddles the line of villain and antihero–sometimes, he even wears both hats–and all of the other characters seem to revolve around him. He’s a fascinating character, which saves both his appeal and that of the show’s, though this viewer wishes that more time were spent on Elijah’s back story. We know it’s interconnected with his brother’s, but he’s also led a life pursuing some higher callings and attempting to avoid the curse of living as a vampire for 1000 years, to the best of his ability.  Also, there seems to be an intense flirtation brewing between Elijah and Hayley, where snippets of his past both haunt and betray him, and which he tries to keep secret from her, all while fashioning himself her protector, to her occasional frustration and disgruntlement. Hopefully, the show follows more of that path, though this viewer has not yet begun watching the second half of the season.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

1) Klaus is so capricious, it’s difficult to determine where his heart truly lies, and that may be the ultimate question of the show: what, really, does Klaus want in the end?  I have a feeling only Cammie will be able to get to the bottom of it – or someone like her.

2) If werewolves in the bayou are connected to Klaus’ biological father, and some of those werewolves are Hayley’s family, does that mean there is the possibility that Klaus and Hayley are distant cousins generations removed as well as parents of a new kind of hybrid?  Does this fact explain the possibility of the baby?

3) Davina is annoying.  Please make her go away.

4) I don’t understand the romance between Marcel and Rebekah.  I see no sense of chemistry between those two actors.  Rebekah always comes off like a spoiled brat, and Marcel vacillates between survivor, vengeful victim, corrupt politician, and protector of all.  Maybe it’s the opposites attract thing.

5) Elijah is seriously underutilized on this show.  Daniel Gillies is such a beautiful man, and his character is tall, dark, handsome, and mysterious.  I want to know everything about his past, and why he places so much faith in Klaus, when Klaus disappoints him repeatedly and has done so for centuries.  I want to know why he and Hayley are so strongly drawn to each other.  I want him to always wear suits, and I want Elijah to suss out Rebekah’s affair with Marcel and weigh in.

6) I don’t love the character of Cammie, but I do hope she somehow outsmarts Klaus without going insane from her conflicting/compelled memory losses.

7) Have I mentioned that Tyler Lockwood, Klaus’ erstwhile hybrid sire from The Vampire Diaries, in a mission to defeat Klaus, stopped by the bayou – not without ending his sweet and saccharine relationship with Caroline Forbes on TVD?  Except – he left again.  Where did he go? He hasn’t returned to Mystic Falls.  Why is this character a part-time character on either show at best?

PARTING SHOTS

The Originals, though not the twisty soap opera characterizing its parent program, is more than decent television, spinning an epic and seductive tale with decent acting and beautiful actors doing the work.  The writers have created a steamy mix of horror, revenge fantasy, and seductive romance, capitalizing on all of the best elements of vampire lore, while providing a considerably more adult direction for this spin-off of angst-driven The Vampire Diaries.  The story is grand and twisty, though, and completely accessible to anyone who hasn’t watched TVD.  This viewer hopes this spin-off survives – if for no other reason than to be able to look upon Daniel Gillies as much as possible…

LOOKING AHEAD:

The Originals was ordered for a full first season, but renewal is still up in the air.  The ratings have steadied and/or incrementally increased for the most part, though, and with the CW’s target audience and with the smaller size of its overall viewership, renewal is expected if not guaranteed. If February sweeps doesn’t guarantee longer life, we’ll probably know by May.

Around the Water Cooler: “Person of Interest,” Mid-Season Progress Report (MAJOR SPOILERS)

THE SPECS:

Who: “Person of Interest” currently airs on network TV, specifically on CBS, Tuesdays at 10:00 PM.

What: “Person of Interest,” an action/crime drama featuring Michael Emerson (Lost) as Harold Finch, a technology and computer genius who, in the wake of 9/11, invents a Machine, which he sells to the government.  The Machine is designed to predict disasters and events with a high probability of catastrophic fatalities, except that Finch becomes aware that the Machine also predicts singular deaths, termed “acceptable losses,” that it discards or that are ignored by those associated with the Machine.  Consumed by several personal crises, including knowledge of the Machine’s capabilities, Finch hires former CIA-operative John Reese (Jim Caviezel, Passion of the Christ) as a vigilante responsible for saving the endangered lives predicted by the Machine.  Taraji P. Henson plays a police detective, recently demoted to officer, who first suspects and follows the mysterious operatives and then becomes an integral part of their operation. In addition, as the program progresses, the complicated lives and backgrounds of not only Finch and Reese but everyone connected directly or indirectly to the Machine, in addition to the Machine’s own complex programming, expose the corruption of higher powers, including government agencies and the New York Police Department, and the seedy underbelly and crime syndicates of greater New York City, (for a more detailed Synopsis, read here: http://www.aceshowbiz.com/tv/person_of_interest/summary.html).

When: The Season 3 premiere aired on Tuesday, September 24, 2013, on CBS at 10:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in New York City and follows Reese, now Officer Joss Carter, Detective Fusco, and sometimes Finch throughout the Burroughs as the Machine generates new numbers with associated lives to save. Occasionally, the action leaves New York State if there is a larger story arc or a flashback providing character background.

Why: I initially watched the show for three solid reasons: J.J. Abrams is an executive producer, Jonathan Nolan (i.e. Christopher Nolan’s writer brother) created the concept, and the show features Michael Emerson, best known as morally ambiguous Benjamin Linus on Lost, one of the truly great actors on that show.  I was also intrigued by seeing Jim Caviezel in a non-Jesus role.  I wasn’t sure what the program would ultimately become or how the high-concept premise would offer longevity and/or story possibilities.  I have been pleasantly surprised by just how exciting, intelligent, and thoroughly engaging this show has become, and if this season’s premiere is any indication, the ride is about to become even more of a roller coaster of action, emotion, and intrigue as the episodes progress.

How – as in How’s It Going? (THOUGHTS…at present)

It’s taken this viewer a long time to be motivated enough to write this particular Water Cooler entry.  Person of Interest has reached a critical juncture in its overarching story and not without major, unforeseen, gut-punching casualties that have resulted in sincere grief for fictional characters.  This viewer has not yet begun watching the second half of the season (with episodes starting in January) because, in some ways, the events on this show have been the most intense, the most heart wrenching, and the most surprising of any of the shows I’ve watched this season.  The biggest question for now where Person of Interest is concerned: where do they go from here?

Rather than write a mid-season recap, as is generally my fashion at this point in the season, I am using this particular entry to pay homage to the casualties of war – the silent war waged on all fronts by each of our characters.  War can take many forms, and in the fictional world of this program, the war being fought is between the corrupt and the true, the just and the unjust, the above board and the below the radar, the legal and the illegal, the moral and the immoral, the ethical and the unethical, and those who justify ends with means versus those who justify means with ends.  War is messy, though, and the writers and producers of this excellently written and conceived story have spared no shrapnel, no debris, and no ruin from their high-stakes battlefield involving the saving and taking of lives.

Thus – the mid-season remembrances of Person of Interest:

1) RIP HR

The biggest singular plot point of the first half of the third season: Reese, Carter, Fusco, Shaw, and the team exposed the corrupt layer of the NYPD and New York city government known as “HR.” Carter, while investigating the ultimate murder of her former love interest and deceased police detective, Cal, uncovered that HR was run by Cal’s godfather, the deputy mayor.  In addition, key henchmen of the organization, including Fusco’s particular bully, were identified.  Between Carter’s own brand of solitary vigilante justice, and with a little help from manipulative Elias (Enrico Colantoni) and his band of misfit gangsters, HR’s hold over the city crumbled, and several heads of the organization have died or been indicted for capital crimes.  This grand take-down was not without its costs, however.

2) RIP JOSS CARTER – and goodbye, Taraji P. Henson

Carter’s efforts led to her being caught in the crossfire.  In a vengeful twist of fate propagated by that same HR bully, Carter caught a bullet and is no more.  It was a devastating plot twist that no one saw or expected to happen, including our intrepid band of vigilantes. The demise of this character, including the departure of the incredible actress who played her, is quite the loss for the show, though it was a planned loss that was executed perfectly, with due ceremony, and without leaving plot minefields or the viewer unsatisfied in the end.  Still: au revoir, Taraji.  I hope you find new challenges for your considerable talents, though Carter was a fine addition to this winning ensemble.

3) RIP REESE’S RESOLVE

Carter’s death was particularly devastating to Reese, who shared a tender kiss with Carter before she charged into the fray in her final stand against the corrupt cops who threatened her life and the lives of her family.  While a slow-burning love between them is not surprising, given their common values and drives, the impromptu kiss by the usually stoic Reese was both uplifting and painful, as it foreshadowed–nay, heralded–that something terrible was about to happen, given its unsurprising eventuality mixed with the out-of-the-blue quality of the moment in which the kiss transpired. With Carter’s demise, Reese has gone off the reservation, hiding and drinking away his deep grief.  In the last episode I saw, Fusco tracked him down and tried to knock some sense into him.  Goodness knows how effective he will ultimately be.

4) RIP FINCH’S FIRM HAND ON HIS BAND OF LIFE SAVERS

Reese has lost it, and, therefore, Finch has lost his reliable tin soldier.  Shaw is doing her best to fulfill the mission, but, naturally, she lacks Reese’s earthier charms.  In addition, though Finch holds Root (Amy Acker) in captivity in the library, she is still able to communicate quite effectively with her new-found deity, the nascent consciousness of the Machine, and Finch doesn’t know how she does it. Neither do we, for that matter.  Root calls the Machine “God.”  The scary part of her assertion is that the Machine’s level of computational and statistical predictive ability appears to be approaching omnipotence.  I can’t remember if it predicted Carter’s death, though.  Hm.

Rest in peace, dearly departed.  The afterlife awaits.

Questions, Impressions, and Future Considerations

Revisiting previous questions:

1) Now that the Machine is talking and having existential conversations with Root, what is going to happen to the occasional numbers it generates?  Is the Machine’s morality going to become a factor as it becomes more self-aware?

Answer: The numbers are still coming, but the morality of the Machine is still in question.  In fact, not only is the Machine’s morality suspect; its endgame remains the true mystery and may define the scope and direction of the series going forward.

2) How long is Root going to remain in the asylum?  And can Amy Acker be promoted to a series regular already because she is too good an actress, and her character too charismatic and potentially evil, to be used irregularly and/or infrequently.

Answer: Amy Acker is a series regular, and she escaped from the asylum fairly quickly with the help of her mysterious connection with the Machine.  Now, she’s holed up in the library under Finch’s watchful eye.  Will that last, or will the Machine bust her out of her newest prison?

3) The same goes for Elias (Enrico Colantoni) – what will his part in the larger web ultimately be?  He always seems to be ten steps ahead of everyone else, but he doesn’t know about the Machine, which the viewer knows is smarter than him.

Answer: Elias manipulated Carter somewhat but also helped her to take down one of his key adversaries, HR.  Elias is still on the loose but still unaware of the Machine.  Will they ever cross paths?

4) Shaw has added additional levity and snark to the proceedings, particularly vis-a-vis her chemistry with Reese – yet, this also has the potential of becoming tired quickly.  Writers: please use her sparingly. Her shortest one-liners are the funniest.  For example, “I’m hungry.  Buy me a steak.”

Answer: While Reese is off the reservation, Shaw is Finch’s main mercenary.  Her rougher edges have smoothed out somewhat, but her general demeanor has become largely one-note and boring. Will she smack some sense into Reese also?  Will she ever get in touch with her inner human?

5) Finch’s personal crises are going to be driven into a tailspin when he finds out how much self-knowledge the Machine has attained. He already knows that the Machine has evolved beyond its original programming that he developed for it, but if the Machine starts thinking for itself, Finch’s guilt related to the “acceptable loss” factor of the individual numbers might grow exponentially and overtake him. Reese, despite their individual reservations and lack of shared information between each other, has become his tether, but Reese might not be able to account for the psychological ramifications of the Machine’s growing consciousness on Finch’s zealous quest to right what he perceives to be the singularly most devastating wrong of his life (other than letting Grace, played by Emerson’s real life wife Carrie Preston, go).

Answer: Finch is, indeed, horrified by the Machine’s evolution and appears to be confronted with some combination of wariness and denial when it comes to Root’s claims that she not only communicates with the Machine, but that the Machine has also attained a higher consciousness. Finch may be as aware as anyone that he is losing control of the situation, and he is still wrestling with the guilt of creating something more intelligent than most human beings.

6) Reese, on the other hand, has found purpose after his break from the CIA, which attempted to assassinate him as a compromised asset, sent him into a nosedive and made him a ghost and ripe for the picking by Finch.  Reese follows Finch’s orders and uses his considerable fighting prowess to fulfill the mission of saving the “acceptable losses,” but his fight might grow if the Machine, Elias’ gang, HR, and other corrupt elements of the city begin to collide more often.

Answer: The fight grew, and HR fell apart – but it’s not over yet.

7) In the meantime, there is Carter, who is now fighting demons of her own, some of which Reese and Finch are aware, others which they know nothing about.  She is already a woman in a man’s world (and a Black woman at that), but the outfit known as HR has its arms and fingers into many parts of the pot. The question of her mere survival and the preservation of her sanity may be more important than her overall role in the big picture.

Answer: Neither survived in the end, and it was devastating.

8) And then there’s Fusco – the resident comic relief, though he sure figured out how to diffuse the igniter of a homemade bomb pretty quickly.  He has been walking the line, pretending to be a dutiful member and stooge for HR while spying for Finch and Reese, but HR is already suspicious of him.  His survival and identity as an accessory to the vigilantes is also at risk, particularly now that he is not able to be assisted by former partner Carter.

Answer: He surviveed.  Will his role in Finch’s merry band of misfits grow?  Will he be able to save Reese from himself and his spiraling self-destruction as he mourns Carter?

All New Questions:

9) Where do they go from here?  Will Reese recover?  What is the Machine (and, therefore, Root’s) endgame?

10) What will Finch do to continue the quest when so much of his operation is in shambles following the cataclysmic confrontation with HR?

11) Will Finch or any of the group have to destroy the Machine in the end?

12) Will the Machine continue to predict deaths, either individual or, in connection to its original purpose, larger/catastrophic disasters?

PARTING SHOTS

In short, Person of Interest continues to boast riveting storytelling, with threads that interweave, overlap, tie together, and unravel in the end.  Each episode is jam packed with so-called “holy shit” moments – culminating in some of the biggest of such moments this season.  In addition, the fully formed chemistry between this ensemble cast of actors is truly engaging.  This is one of the most exciting shows on TV right now.  This viewer continues to recommend this show to anyone who likes fast-paced, serial television with easy questions, no easy answers, and witty and intelligent writing, not to mention solid performances from a stellar cast.

LOOKING AHEAD:

Person of Interest was ordered for a full season by CBS, as it is a show with steady to high ratings, particularly among male audiences (I defy stereotypes of course). Unless something drastic occurs, this show probably has a few seasons to go and will become a mainstay for the network.

Progress Report: February Sweeps

Based on reliable sources, including TVLine, the A.V. Club, and TV Guide, here are the current statuses of shows covered by this blog.  This list does not include up and coming shows to be reviewed or shows not listed on the “What I’m Currently Watching” page (such as The Simpsons):

*True Blood (HBO, Summer Sundays at 9:00 PM)

Season 7, Summer 2014, will be the final season.

*Bones (FOX, Fall Mondays at 8:00 PM)

Full season 9 ordered; Renewed for Season 10

*Sleepy Hollow (FOX, Fall Mondays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewed for Season 2

*New Girl (FOX, Fall Tuesdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewal = All But Guaranteed

*The Mindy Project (FOX, Fall Tuesdays at 9:30 PM)

Full Season 2 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (ABC, Fall Tuesdays at 8:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = ?

*Person of Interest (CBS, Fall Tuesdays at 10:00 PM)

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*Revolution (NBC, Fall Wednesdays at 8:00 PM)

Full Season 2 Ordered; Renewal = ?

*Glee (FOX, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM)

Season 6 (2014-2015) will be its last.

*Grey’s Anatomy (ABC, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 10 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*The Crazy Ones (CBS, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered;  Renewal = Likely

*The  Michael J. Fox Show (NBC, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Pre-Ordered and Contractually Obligated to Air; Renewal = Officially Cancelled and Stopped Watching (Review to Come)

*Once Upon a Time (ABC, Fall Sundays at 8:00 PM) –> MUST SEE FAVORITE

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewal = All But Guaranteed

*Revenge (ABC, Fall Sundays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*The Vampire Diaries (CW, Fall Thursdays at 8:00 PM) –> MUST SEE FAVORITE

Full Season 5 Ordered; Renewal = All But Guaranteed

*The Originals (CW, Fall Tuesdays at 8:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*Sean Saves the World (NBC, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM) — 3 episode trial

Limited Scripts Ordered; Renewal = Officially Cancelled and Done and Off the List

*Witches of East End (Lifetime, Fall Sundays at 10:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Aired; Renewed for Season 2

*Supernatural (CW, Fall Tuesdays at 9:00 PM) –> MUST SEE FAVORITE

Full Season 9 Ordered; Renewal = All But Guaranteed

*The Tomorrow People (CW, Fall Wednesdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = ?

*American Horror Story (FX, Fall Wednesdays at 10:00 PM)

Full Season 3 Aired; Renewed for Season 4

*Once Upon a Time in Wonderland (ABC, Fall Thursdays at 8:00 PM) — Watching, but Likely to Be Canceled

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = Unlikely

*Reign (CW, Fall Thursdays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

*Grimm (NBC, Fall Fridays at 9:00 PM)

Full Season 3 Ordered; Renewal = All But Guaranteed

*Dracula (NBC, Fall Fridays at 10:00 PM) –> 6 episode trial

Full Season 1 Aired; Renewal = Unlikely

*Doctor Who (BBC America, Currently on Hiatus)

Full Series 8 & 9 Ordered; Premieres August 2014

*Almost Human (FOX, Fall/Winter Mondays at 8:00 PM) –> 6 episode trial

Full Season 1 Ordered; Renewal = Likely

ON THE DECK: Downton Abbey (WaterCooler), Intelligence (Pilot), Star-Crossed (Pilot)

Around the Water Cooler: “Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” The Final Verdict


THE SPECS:

Who:  “Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” currently airs on network TV, specifically on ABC, Tuesdays at 8:00 PM.

What: “Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” a serial television drama based on the comic/graphic novel and film universe of Marvel Comics.

When: The series premiered on ABC, Tuesday, September 24, 2013, at 8:00 PM.

Where: The show is set in the fictional Marvel Cinematic Universe and closely follows the events of “The Avengers” film, directed by series creator Joss Whedon.

Why: Two reasons: Joss Whedon and Disney’s first television production of the Marvel property it recently acquired.  Even if I am more of a DC girl, I love Whedon, and I love comic book adaptations, though I have not seen The Avengers.  It seemed like a no-brainer, really.

SYNOPSIS

The mission of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, i.e. S.H.I.E.L.D., is to monitor and collect rogue supernatural subjects, forces, and people and to control them.  The Division is kind of like the so-called Men in Black but is focused on any fringe element looking to create the next Tony Stark (Iron Man) or Captain America or Thor without the natural-born endowments (or the cool suit invented by a rich guy).  There is a movement, however, known as the “Rising Tide,” of which Skye (Chloe Bennett) is a member, which believes that government agencies like S.H.I.E.L.D. interfere too heavily with the natural evolution of humans and science geared toward super status, particularly when such elements may produce heroes and people aiming to do good and to better society/the world.  Skye infiltrates S.H.I.E.L.D. and becomes a (quasi) reliable member of the team, though it is unclear to the viewing audience what her motives and agenda truly are: is she still working for Rising Tide, or is she becoming swayed by the close-knit team dynamics and mission of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

The (Final) Verdict

I initially rated the pilot 3 stars, which earns a six episode trial.  After six episodes, I extended the trial, because the show had not yet found its footing, and I kept hoping for and/or sensing the possibility of potential improvement, even as the show has been, at times, flat – uneven at best.  After the mid-season break, my final verdict is:

Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., while still searching for its purpose and core, is finally starting to find its footing.  It isn’t the best TV program on the air, but perseverance allows both the characters and the story time to grow on the viewer.  Also, connections, both between characters and to the larger meta-universe of this show, are becoming clearer, which helps tremendously.

How – as in How’s It Going? 

S.H.I.E.L.D. is still searching for its handle, not unlike the character of Skye.  Her purpose, at least, has become more focused: she’s searching for her parents, orphan rebel that she is, and she believes that SHIELD and Agent Coulson can help her – this, as it seems, was ultimately her purpose for agreeing to join and to stick with the organization.  The trouble is, both Agent Coulson and Agent May can help Skye but are choosing not to do so, for mysterious reasons unbeknownst to the viewer.

What has helped the show’s forward momentum are a few grand touches, such as a handful of guest stars of caliber.  For example, Peter MacNicol, in the episode “The Well,” played a member of Thor’s race, a hidden deity on Earth.  J. August Richards also returned in the mid-season finale, bringing the story of the Centipede back to the forefront, and providing the foundation and a possible launch pad for the season’s second half.  More connections have also been fostered to the larger universe; for example, the self-same “Well” episode provided story related to the end and sequence of events immediately following the Thor film sequel, giving the show a larger purpose and connection to its fictional family.  The viewer has also been granted snippets about the core characters: Agent Ward has finally been given a back story, and the viewer has also been permitted some glimpse into his pockmarked past as well as to the pasts of Agents May and Coulson and to FitzSimmons – the duo of geeky science analysts aboard the agents’ stealthy plane.

Truthfully, though, the show still suffers from plodding moments and occasional ennui.  This viewer also detects an ongoing sense of the creators beings wrapped up in their own cleverness without actually producing a truly clever final product.  Ultimately, this is not the Whedons’ best vehicle, and this viewer believes even die hard Marvel fans would agree.  The fact is, like all comic book vehicles, our strident heroes need a larger enemy, villain, or set of same to drive the action, or more focus should be devoted to the characters the viewer sees each week, whether these characters or the overarching plot arc connect to the Marvel movies or not.  This viewer believes that the show has suffered from too much display of nifty gadgets and tricky action alone – such elements are fun, and all, but TV is long-form storytelling, even when it’s not a mythology heavy vehicle like an X-Files or a Lost, and can’t rely on shallow action over the long term without a better backdrop for it to hold the viewer’s interest.  One show that has learned this lesson well while still maintaining a “situation of the week” format is Almost Human (a review to come).

The Whedons, again, need to remember the lessons of their past series, such as shows that blended action and story like Buffy; why some were more successful than others; and what powered and fueled those successes in the end.   The brothers can dare to be different and attempt to disassociate the current show from previous efforts, but a comic book-based television series still has only so much appeal.  There are good and bad “comic” movies too, and, as I’ve said repeatedly in my previous blogs about this show, there is so much about S.H.I.E.L.D. that is mirroring the bad, it’s concerning at times.

PARTING SHOTS

The show’s getting better, and this viewer will stick with it for the season.  February sweeps will tell all – including, likely, whether or not the show gets renewal for future seasons.  There are, allegedly, film crossovers that are going to start or have started to happen since the winter half of this season began.  One can only hope that such crossovers provide further jolts to propel this show and its story or stories toward must-see status.

LOOKING AHEAD:

A full season of this program was ordered, but there is no word yet on renewal for any further seasons.  I would surmise that ABC and its respective executives are probably waiting for the same things the core viewership of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are waiting for – and are hoping that changes on the horizon will bolster both the viewers’ and network’s confidence.  They are promising in theory: but what will happen in practice?-