When it aired on ABC, the first season of Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD started off so slow that it almost lost a lot of people (myself included). But watching it again in rapid succession on the Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD — which means you get to the good post-Captain America: The Winter Soldier episodes a lot quicker — you realize that while this show isn’t as good as that movie or The Avengers, it’s still pretty entertaining.
Set after the events of The Avengers, and both before and after Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Thor: The Dark World, Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD follows Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) as he leads a group of accomplished and new S.H.I.E.L.D. agents around the globe, initially looking for possible superheroes. But they soon find themselves entwined in their own conspiracy, as well as trying to figure out how Coulson died in The Avengers but is somehow back among the living in SHIELD
As a companion to Marvel’s movies, Agents Of SHIELD does a fine job of providing side stories, some of which pay off nicely in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (and will probably do so again in next year’s Avengers: Age Of Ultron). They even got Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury from a bunch of the films), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill in The Avengers), and Jaime Alexander (Lady Sif from Thor and Thor: The Dark World) to reprise their characters for different episodes (though only Alexander stuck around long enough to really do anything).
The casting people on Agents Of SHIELD also did a rather great job. Granted, getting Gregg to be great as Coulson is like asking a bag of sugar to be sweet, but his likeability is completely matched by many of co-stars, especially the adorable Chloe Bennet (Skye) and the hilariously awkward duo of Elizabeth Henstridge (Simmons) and Iain De Caestecker (Fitz).
Still, on its own, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t always work. Not only because it assumes you’ve seen the movies — which, admittedly, is a fair assumption — but because it doesn’t have the budget to be as big or as bold as the movies, while most of the pre-Winter Soldier ones seem to meander, like they’re looking for a direction.
Which isn’t to say that you shouldn’t bother with Agents Of SHIELD. At the very least, these episodes are worth seeing so you know what happened in the Marvel universe in the aftermath of The Avengers and, more importantly, Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Just know that you probably won’t want to place it in your collection alongside your Iron Man Blu-rays.
As for how those episodes appear on Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD, the answer will be familiar to anyone who’s watched any TV show on Blu-ray or DVD. Besides having no commercials, of course, the episodes here also don’t have the circular ABC icon in the corner, or those annoying mid-episode pop up ads for other ABC shows that, of course, will have pop-up ads for Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD. They also look a bit more crisp and clean than they did when they were broadcast, especially on the DVD (though that’s largely because SD channels oddly look worse on an HD TV than SD DVDs do for some reason).
What is odd about the way the episodes are presented on Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD is that they include the previous episodes recaps at the beginning of each episode. Which might make sense if you’re a purist, or if you plan to watch one episode a week like it originally aired, but even then this seems rather unnecessary.
Along with the twenty-two episodes, Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD also has some entertaining extras.
First up on the Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD are a trio of episode commentaries, which have Henstridge, De Caestecker, and co-executive producer/writer Paul Zbyszewki talking about the sixth, “Fzzt”; Gregg, Bennet, and supervising producer/writer Brent Fletcher discussing episode eleven, “The Magical Place”; and co-producers/writers Lauren LeFranc and Rafe Judkins joining stars Ming-Na Wen (May) and J. August Richards (Mike) on the thirteenth, “T.R.A.C.K.S.” Thankfully, all of these were recorded with everyone in the same room which, coupled with the fact that the actors were involved, makes them as entertaining as they are informative.
Also included on the Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD is the TV special “Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe” which, for people who aren’t comic book fans, explained how Marvel was connecting all of their movies and this show into a singular fictional universe. Which was really only worth watching, then and now, for the stuff at the end about The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, and to see the short clip from Ant Man (though given that the director of the latter has since left that movie, maybe that should be “the short clip from the aborted version of Ant Man”).
The Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD also includes “Journey Into S.D.C.C.,” a fun look at the show’s panel at San Diego Comic-Con; “Field Reports,” a collection of five quick looks at some of the show’s bigger action scenes; “VFX Progressions,” which are even quicker (and thus kind of useless) looks into how some of the special effects were shot; “Bloopers Of SHIELD,” which is five fun minutes of the cast goofing up and goofing around; and the deleted scenes, which don’t really add much, since the eight of them only last seven minutes total, and there’s no explanation as to why they were cut.
Last, and kind of least, the Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD.: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD also has a trailer for Guardians Of The Galaxy (which, if you’re buying this collection, you’ve probably already seen), a commercial the Blu-ray and DVD version of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (which, if you’re buying this collection, you’ve probably already bought), and a commercial for all of ABC’s prime time line-up (which, if you’re buying this collection, you probably already watch).
What I do appreciate about the extras on the Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD is that most of them — save for the “Marvel Studios: Assembling A Universe” special — are located on the last disc. Which makes sense since you wouldn’t want to watch most of them before you’ve seen the episodes. Or seen them again, as the case may be.
The exception to this is the collection of deleted scenes; I wish they had been presented alongside the episodes they had been cut from instead of all together on the last disc. And the same goes for the “Field Reports,” though this is less necessary.
In the end, the Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.: The Complete First Season Blu-ray and DVD is cool if you love this show…it’s just not a show you’ll really love so much as kind of enjoy for what it is. Sure, Marvel movie completionists will want to get it, and if you go see all of the movies, you should really watch these episodes once, but don’t expected to be wowed like you might’ve hoped.