Maybe you heard Apple came out with a new watch this week? Some kind of Dick Tracy gizmo I can’t wait to get. I’m old and infirm and I can barely hear it when my phone rings because I cut granite for two years in North Georgia when I was a kid, have I mentioned that? And I used to have to walk to school uphill both ways in the snow and carry change for a payphone and basically arrange a time to meet with my friends beforehand if we wanted to do anything and maybe if we were lucky Bill Bixby played the Hulk on TV and we played with oily rags and sticks as toys and we were happy about it.
And when I heard about the Apple Watch reveal, I couldn’t help but think those geniuses were following the Marvel playbook. Or, you know. Vice-versa.
You guys are all up-to-date, I know. Apple has revealed the iWatch and it’s a wearable and it connects your phone in your pocket to your thingamabob on your wrist and it’s an intermediate step to just wearing your thing on your arm and bypassing your pocket and holy crap I spent two paragraphs with back-to-back run-on sentences for a stylistic point and maybe people reading this are all OK with my literary preciousness already and I don’t have to show off like that but I apologize to those who don’t. Or aren’t.
Point is, Apple trademarked the word “watch” with nobody looking.
So this cool gizmo people are rooting for or rooting against… it doesn’t matter what they think. The audience is going to make the call over the Peanut Gallery. Thing is, people have aligned for-or-against Apple just like they have aligned for-or-against Marvel. You see it, yeah? Oh, sure; it’s Marvel’s Agent Carter. It’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., officially. But no one calls it that. You love your icon representing Apple-in-Cupertino Watch, you’re just going to call it “your watch.” You love Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and that’s what you’re going to call it. But mindshare is crazy. You hear “Apple” in your head, anyway, and you hear “Marvel,” too.
Just like folks call it Captain America, they hear “Marvel’s Captain America” in their head, anyway. It’s genius. And so it is for the episodic television. That’s a hard row to hoe for the TV guys. The Marvel movie guys can tell their entertaining stories in two-hour bites but the shows are sitting there, week-after-week. Skye as an Inhuman is a good example. Marvel has a hard line to walk between ongoing narrative satisfaction and episodic done-in-one.
Comics fans know Skye is Daisy Johnson, and the OH MY GOD I DON’T KNOW WHAT MY POWERS ARE thing is interminable for folks in the audience who know who she is. But the TV guys have to walk a fine line for the cats who are just watching the show. It probably drives them nuts. Even here, in Season Two, the people watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are the people who know that Eddie McClintock in this episode is the same race as Ronan the Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy.
I was talking about this with the missus this morning when we were getting the young man ready for school, and she said, “I’m nerd-adjacent and I didn’t get that.” Can you imagine what a regular joe thinks? Maybe he gets that Eddie McClintock from Warehouse 13 is a thing. And maybe-maybe he gets the guy saying he’s having blue skin twice means something, but is anyone outside of a Marvel fan supposed to put together the dead blue guy who saved Coulson and is that ice? maybe he’s just a blue kinda guy and the blue guy with black stripes in Guardians are all the same race?
Episodic television is a hard nut to crack. You have drama, sure. Lost is great. Sweaty pretty people. You care what happens to them because you don’t know. Sitcoms are easy. They’re comics strips. New Girl is basically Garfield. “Oh, Jess; you can’t eat all the lasagna.” But we know who all these people are in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and most people don’t. Hard row to hoe.
Bobbie and Mac are working for Cap, though. Bobbie was horrified at the suggestion they were working for Hydra. Cap is the only one who you can be still a good guy and be looking for Fury’s data. Flows into Age of Ultron and that Tripp isn’t dead and an Inhuman.
I have some laughs, every episode, though, because I’m a big fan of the old Hawaii Five-O.” Credits, every week, was AND KAM FONG AS CHIN HO. Made me laugh. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. credits make me laugh in the same way, now, too. because NICK BLOOD AS LANCE HUNTER.
I mean, come on.