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TV That Matters: “Marvel’s ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ ” and “The Goldbergs”

By John Thomas Columnist

You’ve taken your parents’ car out for the first time and you’ve got the whole night ahead of you -- a full tank of gas and at least a little bit of bud. What do you do? Well if you were Joss Whedon, you’d probably throw the weed in a urinal and spend the rest of your night driving around in a circle because you find the experience of driving tautologically enjoyable. Oh, you’d also probably blow the car up right after you pull into the driveway with your best friend’s lover locked in the trunk because that’s your idea of dramatic tension.

“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” is a show that’s ostensibly about an organization tasked to control the world’s superhuman population, but really it’s just another boring, half-assed, supposedly high-minded procedural. The posturing action sequences that worked so well in “The Avengers” just aren’t effective with the lesser budget and unrecognizable, bland characters of the show. The ham-fisted characterization of the film returns as well, but it just doesn’t have the redeeming, sometimes witty zing here. How the hell did they manage to make a show set in the Marvel universe that isn’t even a lick of fun? There’s one super powered individual, not including those in flashbacks, in the entire episode. His powers are punching, throwing, jumping and, somehow the least inspired, yelling about the plight of the working class.

Clark Gregg is, as always, a delight, and by far the best written character on the show, but he’s not able to make up for the obtuse acting exhibited by many of his fellow cast members. That being said, Brett Dalton comes off as likeable and emotionally complex in the role of Agent Grant Ward, who could’ve come off as an out and out jerk. While there’s room for improvement, and I obviously wasn’t pleased with most of the actors, I can actually see them improving when outside of the confines of an origin story.

This was a tough review for me to write. I’ve been an avid comic book fan since I was a little kid, and I expected a lot out of Marvel’s first live action television series to premiere in my lifetime. I have a lot of qualms with the pilot, but I think “S.H.I.E.L.D.” still has a lot of potential. The Whedons and their amazing friends have proven their mettle time and time again, so I’m willing to give it a few weeks. Either way, I’m sure “S.H.I.E.L.D.” will be the ratings juggernaut ABC so desperately needs, so I guess that’s something.

Did any of you watch “Breaking In?” It’s one of my favorite comedies of the past few years. Adam Goldberg, the man behind ABC’s new ‘80s spin on “The Wonder Years,” also created “Breaking In,” so I had high hopes for another conceptually interesting, laugh-a-minute show. That’s not what “The Goldbergs” turned out to be but you know, I think that’s just fine.

“The Goldbergs” has a pretty run of the mill premise. The eponymous family has kind of a “Malcolm in the Middle” feeling, or at least that’s what I think they’re going for. It doesn’t work because they’re rich and way too sentimental, but the kind of quirky cracks in their relationships help to elucidate a sweet, even endearing affection that each member of the family has for each other.

I may have only laughed audibly a couple of times throughout the episodes, but by the end I felt very warm and content. It was like going to a 4th of July Barbeque at my grandparents’ place and actually having a good time. It usually takes me about $80 to get any sort of uplifting feeling, so that’s pretty high praise.

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“Romeo and Juliet”: aesthetically pleasing, otherwise lackluster performance