The first season of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been available on Blu-ray and DVD for a few weeks now, and if you’re wondering if it’s worth checking out, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our review of the Season 1 DVD set. (Sadly, the Blu-ray version was not available for reviewing)
The Episodes: All 22 episodes of Season 1 are on this set. While the notion of having a TV show set in the Marvel Universe that gave us The Avengers was an awesome idea, sadly, I think most of the audience (myself included) wanted the Avengers, despite being told that “not all heroes are super.” Going in, I assumed we’d at least have something like the excellent Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross, or at the very least one-shot characters would be big deals. Remember when we all thought J. August Richards would be Luke Cage? Though where he ended up did turn out to be pretty cool.
Unfortunately, after the pilot, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is off to a rough start. A fan favorite character like Phil Coulson is great, but as the lead of the show instead of as a supporting character, he just seemed like a generator of catch phrases and memes destined to be posted on Twitter or Tumblr. Chloe Bennet’s Skye was the Ultimate Mary Sue, something that was broadcast by the S.H.I.E.L.D. writers later in the season in what was one of my favorite moments of Year One. Brett Dalton’s Grant Ward was the epitome of bland, and did we really need both a Fitz and a Simmons? (Interestingly enough, the first really good episode after the pilot, “F.Z.Z.T.,” shows us that the answer is probably yes, and that’s when the characters start coming together. Fitz and Simmons are also heavily featured in “Seeds,” another of the first season’s best outings.)
There are mysteries in the first season, at least early on, that I just wasn’t feeling. At the time, if someone asked me who the Clairvoyant was, my answer would be “I don’t care.” But instead of just coming off like I’m bashing, just know I had super high hopes for the series, and was a bit disappointed.
Now, we know the show itself was a little stifled by the moments of the Captain America: The Winter Soldier movie — an excuse I don’t totally get behind, because as soon as I saw the trailer for that film, I just assumed S.H.I.E.L.D. corruption would be involved. In retrospect, I almost wish that the [spoiler] angle had been set up all along; it would not have ruined anything from Cap 2. However, once the Cap sequel is passed, things start happening. Grant Ward is suddenly interesting! Skye starts coming into her own. We learn more about how and why Coulson is alive. And new characters like Tripp start hanging around, and the series becomes better. Not as good as, say, Arrow Season 2, but definitely an improvement. I am happy to report, too, having seen the first two episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s second season, and this is the kind of show that it always should have been. It’s almost as though you’ve got to get through a so-so first season to get to the good and meaty stuff. If Season 2 is as good as the first two episodes are, THAT will be a set I’ll tell you to buy; however, it’s certainly more meaningful if you’ve seen the world-building of Season 1.
The Extras: The Season 1 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. DVD set contains what is possibly the best “Comic-Con experience” featurette I’ve seen yet – called “Journey into S.D.C.C.” This featurette also highlights something I didn’t get to mention up above: Even when I’m not always feeling the characters, this show has a very likable, talented cast. I really like these people, and I think this peek behind the curtain gets everyone more involved as an audience, and shows the gratitude and genuine behavior I’ve personally experienced every time I have come into contact with them.
The Marvel Studios: Assembling a Universe TV special/infomercial is included, which is pretty cool if you missed it on TV the first time around; there are five behind-the-scenes “field reports” spotlighting 5 individual episodes of the series, and there are some VFX breakdowns for two sequences. A gag reel and deleted scenes are also included.
Commentaries on the set include Co-Executive Producer/Writer Paul Zbyszewski and actors Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge on the must-watch “F.Z.Z.T.;” Supervising Producer/Writer Brent Fletcher and actors Clark Gregg and Chloe Bennett on “The Magical Place;” and Co-Producers/Writers Rafe Judkins and Lauren LeFranc with actors Ming-Na Wen and J. August Richards on “T.R.A.C.K.S.”
Graphics & Sound: The DVD looks decent and I’m sure the Blu-ray looks even better, as most Marvel projects do.
The Packaging: The screener we were sent did not include the packaging, so unfortunately we can’t tell you about that.
Is It Worth It? Despite my being critical in the “Episodes” section, yes. This is the start of the Marvel TV Universe (which is tied to the Cinematic one), and there’s a lot of world building and some good performances within.