I really admire the bold choice of ABC running an ep of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. at all on the Friday before Christmas. Traditionally a tough slot for action and adventure shows, Friday night has long been known as the timeslot where shows go to die. Anybody who cares is out carousing or in bed.

The advent of DVRs makes that metric not as dear, and even I, a crazyman in love with this show through better and worse, didn’t have a chance to watch it until Saturday morning. And a column? Forget it. It’s the Christmas holidays, man, and I gotta wife and a ten year old. But the thing I love most about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. here, now, in its dotage… nobody besides me hopes it’s getting another season, yeah?… is that this show is like Lou Reed’s band The Velvet Underground. Sure, their first album sold 3000 copies, but everyone who bought one went out and started their own band. Not a lot of people slobber and drool for it, but the ones who do will take a bullet.

One of the hilarious things about SHIELD this season is how the team was mad at Coulson for leaving behind his Inspector Gadget hand attachments because he didn’t want them to confiscate it when he went to prison. I loved that the writers didn’t give themselves a deus ex manicure by having Coulson get them out of whatever jam with his Swiss Army hand.

It was an extra loud laugh that echoed through our house when I saw Fitz was getting ready for his van Winkle nap with a loaded-up Samsonite with ICERs and Stark gauntlets and a few extra paws for Phil. But I’m kinda getting ahead of myself. It’s Christmas. Lotta stuff going on.

So, this December 22 episode. It sounds like Hunter and Bobbi are off doing what they would have been, anyway. We just don’t get to see it. Man, I’m dying for somebody to flow me that pilot. I kind of don’t understand why ABC doesn’t show it, but I’m of the generation where networks would burn failed pilots for “Movies of the Week.” I don’t see how “The Clone Master” or “The Questor Tapes” or “Exo-Man” didn’t get at least thirteen episode pick-ups, but I admit that’s just me and is really kind of inside baseball for 1982. The world doesn’t work that way, anymore. All I can say is, I would vow to my dying day to never show anybody anything if somebody sent that over and I could see the pilot to Marvel’s Most Wanted. I mean, word is bond.

I kind of love that Fitz is the failsafe/fall-back release valve. I know if I were traveling to the untold future and needed someone in the past to get our shit out of Space Dodge, it’d be the… fragile guy who’s brain is suspect from the underwater pressure/Inhuman shenanigans? Who is then sent into Enoch’s freezorama to save the team? I’m kind of surprised how little the observers of the scene don’t get the obvious Empire Strikes Back stuff with the whole I love you/I know stuff, but, there you have it. Spider-Man in Civil War referred to the walker-trip as “that old movie” so the clock is ticking on without us, fellow nerds. An obvious reference to us is uncharted territory for the new kids.

And now, a few words on looking for things. When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you’re only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good… because of all the things in the world, you’re sure to find some of them.

That’s how I feel about the latest broadcast sked of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The last two years, they did a frankly awesome and innovative thing with the winter break: those of you reading this column at #88 know what I’m talking about. In order to minimize audience shedding over a calendar-mandated hiatus, ABC pulled a genius move: half a season in the fall, eight episodes of Agent Carter over the winter break, and then the second half of the S.H.I.E.L.D. season. This went gangbusters because the audience expectation was that there was going to be a hiatus with S.H.I.E.L.D., but it was going to be filled with a complimentary eight-episode dose of Peggy Carter. ABC doesn’t lose the whole audience over the holiday break, nobody is expected to buy-in for an untested character, and since the story is S.H.I.E.L.D.-related, subconsciously the brand is reinforced. Even if you aren’t keen on following Agent Carter’s adventures, it’s only eight episodes when all other networks are in reruns or holiday specials. It was brilliant.

I’m not sure why they didn’t try it again, this year. Starting The Inhumans off in the fall with a crazy IMAX launch with a half-assed production just gave everyone license to ignore the show. If they had started S.H.I.E.L.D. in the fall with the space story “pod,” did a cliffhanger which flowed into The Inhumans as a winter-break story ,and then started up the next Agents “pod” in January, S.H.I.E.L.D. fans might have been more inclined to check it out. As it was, nobody cared. It was an expendable waste of time, which is sad. Nobody goes to work thinking they’re going to half-ass it, but, boy, did The Inhumans show look like everyone was embarrassed to be there. All this scheduling thing did was make people forget to tune in after the holidays, and, if they did, maybe the older end of the 18-49s didn’t even remember what was going on in this visually dense and emotionally-packed show.

Sure, there’s a Space Fight Club going on with the Kree space station on the remains of a ruined Earth, and Fitz got into the tank to save his friends, but dang if the rest of it isn’t supremely convoluted.

I guess I’m just glad to see Fitz and Simmons got to propose to each other, independently.

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