The fall TV season has just started, and I'm already WAY behind! I need to find some way of getting the episodes from my TiVo on to my Kindle Fire, and then I can multi-task by watching while I run on a treadmill. . . .
Anyway, I have watched the opening episodes for Fox's "Sleepy Hollow" and ABC's "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD," plus the first episode of new season of NBC's "The Voice."
This is the new supernatural thriller based loosely on Washington Irving's story, where Ichabod Crane "dies" in the late 1700s having bested(?) a mysterious and scary foe on the battlefield -- by decapitating his adversary. He wakes up in his grave, punches his way out, and finds himself still in the town of Sleepy Hollow (population 144,000), but in modern times. Meanwhile, his headless foe also reappears in Sleepy Hollow and predictable carnage ensues. A local female police officer who once had a strange vision consistent with Crane's apparent lunacy starts to believe him, while her superior predictably writes Crane off as delusional.
I like the fact that this show is trying to be unsettling and scary in a way that I haven't really seen since the early days of "The X-Files," but I'm not totally sold on it. It's an overtly religious supernatural programs with little sense of humor other than occasional moments of Crane's surprise at modern technology, which is a combination that reminds me of Fox's "Brimstone" . . . and that didn't last very long. (Admittedly, "Sleepy Hollow"'s premeire earned a very good 3.4 rating -- anything above 2.0 is decent, and above 3.0 is strong. The second episode dipped to 3.1, which is quite normal, and still good.)
Agents of SHIELD
I'll confess upfront that while I acknowledge Joss Whedon's skills as a TV/movie producer, I've been mostly underwhelmed by his work. I watched three episodes of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," and what I remember today about my impression seems pretty much what I would expect if I were to watch Twilight. Ugh!! (I did kind of like the original Buffy movie, though, which was hilariously campy.) Next, I watched most of the first season of "Dollhouse" and got bored. . . . That one might be the fault of Eliza Dushku, who didn't seem up to the challenge of portraying a character who could take on any variety of personas "downloaded" into her. Wooden acting wasn't a problem on "Firefly," and I can see why it has a cult following, but I dunno, I can also see why it tanked with the public. I did like the "Firefly" sequel movie, Serenity, but Whedon's other big screen flick was The Avengers, which was just okay.
Even with my wariness about Whedon's work, though, I knew that "Agents of SHIELD" had very strong buzz and was probably the consensus choice among critics to be the likely #1 new show. We watched it the same night it premeired, jumping ahead of "Hostages," "The Blacklist," and "The Voice."
And it was entertaining. It's set in the same universe as the recent Marvel movies (the three Tobey Maguire Spider-Mans, Fantastic Four, Thor, Captain America, the three Iron Man movies, and The Avengers). I don't think you need to have watched any of those, but there are a number of references to events and characters inThe Avengers. The basic idea is that in a world with superheroes, supervillains, mutants, and incredibly powerful alien beings, we need an organization devoted to containing the threats posed by such entities. SHIELD is kind of like a Mission: Impossible team (with no superhero/mutant powers) that locates these threats and deals with them, although "deals with" does not necessarily mean eliminate/kill.
As with many pilot episodes, this one was more about establishing the main characters, the world, and the structure of the show than with a tight plot. The leader of the group is Agent Phil Coulson, who appeared to have been killed in The Avengers when Loki ran him through the back with a spear. Coulson explains what happened, but the show teases that there is more to the story than what Coulson knows. (A clone perhaps? Or another possibility?)
Production values were very good in this episode. It definitely carries over the sophisticated tech/knowledge that SHIELD displayed in The Avengers. There appears to be a long-term antagonistic group, which is a good thing, as I think the show would probably get stale if it is nothing more than "containing the threat of the week." If you're looking for a prior show to compare this to, I'd suggest USA's "The 4400."
PS. A critic offers more predictions of the show here.
This is now in its fifth season, so the format is well-established. Considering that I can't remember the name of the singer who won last season, but I do recall that she was on Blake Shelton's team, I'd have to agree with those who say that "The Voice" is much more about making (even bigger) stars of the coaches than in actually launching a successful new singer.
The main question for me was whether I would dread the return of Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo Green over the spring season's Shakira and Usher, who I really liked. For one episode, at least, I didn't find Aguilera unbearably self-centered and obnoxious. We'll see if this holds.
All right, well, my TiVo is still brimming with shows, new and returning. I'll post reviews of "Hostages," "The Blacklist," and more as I get to them.