Deadshirt Is Watching…is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt staff, contributors, and guests sound off on the television shows we’re tuned into, from intense dramas to clever sitcoms to the most insane reality shows. This week: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and The Great British Baking Show!
Dylan Roth is watching…
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Season Three, Episode 1: “Laws of Nature”
Tuesdays at 8/9c on ABC
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s least exciting corner, has reached its improbable third season, the year when many dramas really hit their stride. And while I’d love to report that AoS returned with some heat this week, I’m sorry to say that the season premiere was only about on par for the struggling action drama.
Producers Maurissa Tanchaoren and Jed Whedon have made an effort to give “Laws of Nature” a bit of a soft relaunch feel, with a new opening title card and a new mission for the disgraced spy organization. Leaning hard into last season’s Inhumans arc, S.H.I.E.L.D. is now dedicated to finding, training, and protecting the MCU’s new superpowered minority. Series star Skye has even started going by her birth name—Daisy Johnson—tying her more closely to her comic book counterpart. With a new government organization rising to bag and tag Inhumans. and Agents Coulson and Johnson building a team of supers to combat them, AoS may be mutating into the X-Men show Marvel would rather be making, if only Fox hadn’t locked up the screen rights.
But if that’s their aim, Marvel and ABC still have a long way to go to make Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. work on a more comic book level, especially in the practical effects department. While some of the show’s computer generated shots of futuristic aircraft and gadgets are impressive, this week saw the debut of a new beastly Inhuman villain, whose makeup would seem cheesy even on ABC’s fairy tale series Once Upon a Time.
Episode Highlight: This episode introduces new villain Rosalind Price, played by Constance Zimmer (House of Cards, UnReal), Coulson’s counterpart in the government-sanctioned Inhumans hunting agency. It’s unclear how complex the character of Price is going to be, but Zimmer is a top-shelf dramatic actress and I look forward to seeing what’s in store. Also, William Sadler has a cameo as President Ellis, reprising his role from Iron Man 3. It’s a nice little piece of continuity for a show that’s standing farther apart from the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Joe Stando is watching…
The Great British Baking Show
Series Four, Episode 5, “Biscuits and Traycakes”
PBS, Sundays at 7:00 PM EST (local listings may vary)
This is a show my parents are really into that I decided to try, and I’m glad I did. Stylistically, The Great British Baking Show (an international broadcast of The Great British Bake Off) isn’t too far removed from most long-running reality show competitions you’d find on The Food Network or other cable stations. A dozen amateur bakers compete every week in a series of challenges, their entries are judged, and one is sent home until there’s a final winner. What sets this show apart, though, is the casual, fun atmosphere. TGBBS sort of forgoes the faux-gravitas of most competition shows, largely through the relaxed tone set by hosts Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins. When contestants’ recipes go wrong, they tend to be more bemused than upset, and there’s much more collaboration than in, say, Next Food Network Star. The judges also tend to be a little more reasonable; they’re still often very blunt, but it’s never mean-spirited and lacks the artificial disappointment and anger of most cooking judges. It’s a cute show that acknowledges that things people come up with and make in two to four hours might not be the best pastries on earth, and that that’s okay. It’s an atmosphere I wish we saw more often across the myriad reality competitions these days, and a breath of fresh air.
Episode Highlight: Robert’s Dalek cake was a cute idea, even if it was part of the week that ultimately got him voted off the show. In all shows like this, I like the entries that look appetizing in addition to fancy, so Frances’s banana toffee Jenga tower would’ve gotten my vote. Really, though, the highlight is watching people make delicious food in a low-stakes competitive atmosphere, and it delivered.