Monthly Archives: September 2015

Dear Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: You’re lucky I didn’t have anything else to do

Dear Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:

I don’t want to put a damper on things. My wife and I are about to plunge into your third season and I couldn’t be happier. Your second season was phenomenal. It was full of moments where we asked, “I wonder when they’re going to deal with [X]?” And then you did. In that episode. And the story barreled forward.

Do you realize how rarely we’ve gotten to see that kind of daring and confidence in TV? Episodes like Melinda gave us a payoff about Agent May’s backstory hinted at in the very first episode of the series. But it wasn’t just that: the episode integrated seamlessly with season two’s main story arcs in a way that was surprising, exciting, and emotionally resonant.

So while I hope everyone in your writer’s room gave yourselves an extra nice lunch or two after you broke those stories, I have a confession:

You’re lucky we didn’t have anything better to do during season one.

I mean seriously, things didn’t get interesting until episode 19. That’s 19 of 22 episodes! That’s after the much vaunted crossover with Captain America: Ohmigod It’s A 70s Conspiracy Flick.

(Yes, Patton Oswalt helped, but lanyards can only take you so far).

Did you all really want to launch the series a year later? After Captain America? Did the Mighty Marvel Media Machine demand you start when you did just to have the novelty of crossovers with Captain America and Thor: The Second One? Or is that just conspiracy theories on our part?

In any case, we’re glad we stuck around for the ride and have advised friends and family of when to expect the payoff. I mean, many of us have little munchkins, limiting our consumption of non-animated, non-educational television fare to rare evening hours. We have to commit to TV series wisely and even shows we’ve loved of late can get kicked to the curb if they take an hour we could otherwise sleep and give scant enjoyment in return. I’m looking at you, latest seasons of Castle and Doctor Who.

So rock on, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. May you continue to trailblaze an exciting storyline that manages to fill out the increasingly dubious demands of a network 22-episode season. We’ll be watching.

Update: Like the partial cameo by DC Metro. Yeah, given what went down in the subway car proper, I understand why you just used a set for inside the train. Also, was that Sonic the Hedgehog in the hospital? He’s been working out.

Recommended Reading: Oliver Sacks

How could I not be interested in the work of Oliver Sacks? It’s not just the one about the anthropologist on Mars (though I have that). Sacks explored the human condition in a multitude of cases where the humans in question were grappling with many rare and unusual conditions. What is life? What is humanity? What is perception and consciousness? These were some of the questions he touched on in an engaging writing style that I always enjoyed.

Although his work was very much non-fiction, he inspired fiction in the form of plays and films — further validating the notion┬áthat science and the arts are not so dissimilar as partisans in both disciplines would have you believe.

Sadly, Oliver Sacks passed away yesterday at the age of 82. He knew his time was ending and remained as insightful and philosophical upon his own impending departure as he had been in looking at the struggles and humanity of his subjects.

Still, at times such as these, you don’t want to say goodbye — or at least you want to remember more.

For that reason, I’m happy Adrienne LaFrance over at The Atlantic has assembled The Oliver Sacks Reading List. (http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2015/08/the-oliver-sacks-reading-list/401993/)

I can’t say I’ve read or seen all of these pieces, but then, that’s a big part of my delight. I’ll be enjoying reading and watching them over the coming months. And I expect the ideas generated will be ones I’ll be pondering and writing about for years.

RIP, Oliver Sacks.