Tag Archives: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The good, the cursed, and the entertaining

This weekend was supposed to be dedicated to Autumn chores, and a few small items to move my writing career forward. On the good news front, I got the hoses coiled up and stored for the winter. I also managed some blogging, and sent my critique submission to the gang to dissect.

I didn't get the furnace filters changed. The fact is, I don't have to change them at all. This is because I live under a curse. I've lived under it since high school, and possibly longer. Maybe high school is just where I first noticed it.

Maybe I'm being punished for some prideful act. I really don't know what it is, but the curse is real. It works like this: If I spend money on something I don't absolutely need, I will be punished in short order with a necessary expense that makes me wish I hadn't indulged.

We bought our camper, and immediately had to buy our daughter four new tires. Tires aren't cheap any more, even cheap tires aren't cheap.

We bought my wife a new car, let's just say the furnace filters don't need to be replaced. We need not only a new furnace, but a new coil to go with it. This stuff is like a foreign language to me. If the repairman said I needed a new warp drive or flux capacitor it would make more sense to me. The end result is financing more stuff that I didn't plan on.

I'm making notes. Life is a big part of the character arc in my next story. The fact that you cannot plan everything will be part of the story. (The later part.) Stuff happens, it's very realistic, and it ought to resonate with readers. I'll make it more philosophical in the book, and it won't involve a curse. If you can't break the curse, write a book about it. What else can you do?

This week has been a wild ride on the entertainment front. Glenn died on The Walking Dead. He's one of those I considered untouchable. There is a conspiracy theory going around the internet now that he isn't really dead. Yeah right, more like undead. Still, it was unexpected, dramatic, and delivered the powerful emotional experience of good fiction.

I got all excited when it looked like the grave of the Headless Horseman was discovered on Bones. I was lukewarm to the idea of a Bones/Sleepy Hollow crossover, but it was great. The dead redcoat turned out to be General Gates, and it wound up being a fun story. A little Headless Horseman goes a long ways, and I think leaving it as a teaser was the right move.

It looks like the Reverse Flash is back on The Flash. It remains unknown whether he is good or bad. Special Agent May is back on SHIELD, and I'm glad for that. May and Colson are the main reason to watch the show. I expect good things ahead.

I've slacked off on Dr. Who. I really don't know if I like Peter Capaldi as the Doctor. I don't know, because I can't hear a word he says. The production team must have changed, because the dramatic music tends to drown out the dialog. I recorded the episode this weekend, and may get around to watching it. I want to, I just feel excluded from enjoying it.

I chose to record Dr. Who, because I watched Ash vs The Evil Dead. Bruce Campbell is back, and in a role that lets him shine. The show was hilarious, and I anticipate a great reunion between he and Lucy Lawless in a future episode. Hail to the king, baby!

That brings me to The Last Witch Hunter. We just got back from the movie, and it was wonderful. I'm not a Vin Diesel fan, but he was acceptable. The story is pretty standard fare these days. I loved seeing the Game of Thrones girl again. (Rose Leslie) It's nice seeing her do something more than trying to kill John Snow.

What pushed this over the top for me was the visuals. I saw things I never imagined in this movie, and loved them. Having a drink at Chloe's witchcraft bar became a bucket list item for about ten minutes. Then Vin Diesel burned it down. The “good” witch visuals were wonderful, even beyond the bar. Tiny scenes like a view of a florist shop, or the herb garden were creative as hell. ( So many mushrooms.)

There were a few nice twists and turns, and some great use of plants and payoffs. I enjoyed this movie more than any I've seen this year, and I've seen some big films this year.

There you have it; I'm broke, entertained, cursed, and inspired. Oh, and the hoses are all put away. How are you doing?

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An open discussion about stakes

I try to always post something on Sunday's. I've been a bit busy catching up from the delays my paycheck job threw me. Still, I sent an extensive email to the promotion company I found in Sun Valley. I finished my critiques and am ready for our group tomorrow. Will O' the Wisp is getting an Amazon advertising campaign too. I even managed to catch up with Dr. Who, Last Man Standing, and S.H.I.EL.D. I caught the finale of Fear the Walking Dead moments ago.

I'll figure out a way to catch up with Sleepy Hollow somewhere down the line. I have some major reading booked out for tomorrow too.

These programs got me to thinking about stakes. Good stories need them. The higher they are, and the more clear they are, the better the story… In many cases.

I'm free writing this tonight. Time caught up with me, and I usually get more time to think about stuff before I write.

When Obi Wan croaked, it didn't just propel Luke to new heights. It demonstrated to the audience that genuine risk was involved. Of course they had that whole Death Star demonstration too.

There are stories, like cute romances, where the stakes don't have to be life and death. I still think something has to be on the line, I think the more personal it is, the more it resonates with readers. Catching the killer might be interesting, but it's more interesting with a girl in a well or future victims at risk.

Nothing provides stakes like The Walking Dead. (The original one.) Many of you might argue for Game of Thrones, but I choose TWD. In each case, fully formed characters die. Viewers (readers) understand the stakes, and have seen the result of failure first hand.

In S.H.I.E.L.D. Colson lost a hand and part of his forearm. He managed to briefly turn this into a weapon, of sorts. I respect Colson, and know he's going to continue the fight. Previews tell me Dr. Who is going to die next week. I'm fairly sure time travel will repair this situation.

Do stakes have to be this personal? I believe there is an opportunity to demonstrate a burned out village, and a few refugees. It doesn't have to be on a character level each time. It can be so much better at a personal level though.

I've seen a few things recently where the stakes didn't measure up. They were killed in a flashback, telling me with certainty the character survived. The version of past tense did the same thing in one case.

In a treasure hunt type story, if the character can simply walk away there aren't enough stakes. Greed is a great motivator, but if Camelot will fall without the Holy Grail it's that much better.

I still remember when Robin was killed by The Joker. Those are stakes. Robin II survived a few adventures, and we knew Robin I survived all his adventures. When Robin II died, it gave renewed vigor to the Batman mythology.

I even went so far as killing off my main character in one story. Maybe this is too far, but it would have made a great Greek tragedy. I've been thinking about a short story called The Death of Lisa Burton. If I ever write this one, I assure her fans that she has an escape plan.

How far are you willing to go in your stories? Do you stop at redshirt characters? Those whose sole purpose of being in the story is to die and establish stakes for the hero. Is the sidekick going to kick off in your story? Is the main character going to get it, only to have the sidekick rise up and finish the story? Are you the kind who kills off the pet character? The mentor?

Let me hear it. What tricks do you use to establish stakes? How far are you willing to go? What prevalent tales disappointed in the stakes department? I'm going to start writing again as winter approaches, and maybe you can teach me something.

 

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Spoiler Alert, Spoiler Alert

Those of you who watch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but have not watched the season finale yet, should turn away now. If you really want to read something I wrote, there are books available in the sidebar. Have fun. Come back to this post after you watch the show.

SHIELD has always been something like a sine wave to me. It’s either really slow or really good. I’m into it, so I watch, but there are times where an episode doesn’t measure up. That was not the case last night. I stayed up past old man bedtime to watch the two hour season finale.

I kind of wish they could get an A or B list superhero to show up on occasion. I’d like to see Reed Richards help them out with something on occasion.

The first hour was mostly about moving the pieces around and explaining the bad lady’s plan. It’s nice that Skye’s mom wound up being the villain, and it was kind of cool that her dad is just a wacko. I actually checked a few emails and only watched peripherally.

The second hour was nothing like that. In fact the last ten minutes wouldn’t allow me to go to sleep right away. Evil is defeated, but lives on in some leaky alien material at the bottom of the sea. Fish swim through it, and this leads to fish oil tablets that are contaminated being placed on the supermarket shelves. This stuff either kills or gives super powers. Nice cliffhanger, but it wasn’t the only one. (Maybe Namor will show up next year.)

Coulson, who I love, winds up saving his team, but loses a hand and part of his forearm in the fray. Rumor has it that he’s an artificial life form, because he was killed in the Avengers movie. Project Tahiti may have transferred him into some other body that only looks like Coulson. Things like this are easily overcome in the superhero world. Still, cliffhanger.

Skye gets to drive Lola, because Coulson presumably can’t. He’s been pretty touchy about his flying car, and this was kind of cool. They landed presumably in Tahiti, where something from the Tahiti project was used to wipe out her crazy dad’s memories and give him new ones. This relates to the prevalent Coulson theory.

May, who I also love, checks out her sexy pink bikini before packing it in her luggage. This is dramatically different for her, so something is up. She decides to leave for a while to find herself, or something. Not a huge cliffhanger, but I am left wondering if next year we’ll get to see that bikini in action. (Hey, she’s one of the few actresses that’s closer to my age.)

Fitz and Simmons. He finally gets the courage to not only talk to her, but ask her on a date. She does her happy schoolgirl routine and he leaves her alone in the alien tech locker. He wants  to scope out restaurants for their date. Isn’t she cute about it? Yup.

Then some alien monolith from last year bounces between liquid and solid a time or two. (It did this last year, nothing to worry about.) It leaves its container and slurps Simmons up like a spaghetti noodle before returning to its container and monolithic phase. WTF!

Tune in next year…

Did anyone else watch the show? What did you think? I thought it was a blast.

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Let’s talk about television.

I get some of my inspiration from television, and I’ll bet most writers do too. We are products of our environment, and television is all around us. I decided to talk about what I’ve been watching this fall. Here they are, in no particular order:

Dr. Who. I may be the only person in the world who isn’t onboard with Peter Capaldi as the new Doctor. The problem isn’t his, it’s one of poor production. BBC is running this with the theatrical music overpowering the dialog. I really don’t know if Capaldi is good or not. I’ve only heard about a third of what he said. I’ll keep watching, because it’s Dr. Who, but I’m losing interest.

Sherlock. I’m so excited that BBC America decided to run this show over here. I got to see some episodes that ran on PBS a few years ago. So far, I’ve seen these episodes, but it was a few years ago. I like the fact that each episode is about two hours long. They have more time to mesmerize me. Really excited to see what happens after R. Falls.

Selfie. Keeping with a loose BBC connection, I only watched this because of Amy Pond… I mean Karen Gillan. They teamed her up with John Cho. It’s a modern rebelling of Pygmalion/My Fair Lady. Gillan is hilarious as a self obsessed office worker. I never thought it had much staying power, but I’m sad it was cancelled already. I recorded it and watched it when it suit my schedule. It was up against a highly anticipated show called…

The Flash. I really want to like this show. I’m being patient, because Flash is one of my favorite characters. Right now they’re stuck in bad guy of the week syndrome. My biggest issue is that I think it was miscast. I prefer the old Flash with John Wesley Ship. I’m not offended by the racial diversity the network is obviously attempting, but… When I read the comics, Iris was a white girl. This seems to be a comic trend. I heard Marvel is doing something similar with Ben Grimm. I’m being patient with this show.

S.H.I.E.L.D. This show is much better than last year. They’ve allowed a bit of character growth that most new programs overlook. The episode when Coulson and May infiltrated the party was awesome. May was so out of character working under cover it was funny. It looks like Ward is going to be forgiven, and I think that’s a mistake. I also like the changes between Fitz & Simmons. They were a bit cloying in season one.

Sleepy Hollow. I really like this show. The cast carries the load here. The relationship between Crane and Mills is wonderful. The little bits of Crane being out of touch with modern times are hilarious. It’s a nice spice in an otherwise grim show. I’m not impressed that the horseman is one of the four horsemen, Death. I also don’t like the idea they gave him an invisible head and dialog. Sometimes the monster should remain a monster. His scare factor went from boiling to simmer. Someone once said The Force was so much cooler before we learned about metachlorians. This is how I feel about the horseman. I was a bit disappointed in the 30 pieces of silver episode. Everyone goes there. Crane and Mills carry the show.

The Walking Dead. This show was always good, and it still is. The world is genuinely dangerous, and cast members die off with regularity. There is no safety in knowing a character will be back next week. It’s gritty, scary, and dangerous and I like it.

Last Man Standing. It’s Tim Allen, do I need to say any more? The guy just cracks me up. They poke fun at very current events and do it from a standpoint of common people. The supporting cast is good, and they’ve been allowed to grow a bit too.

Note: There are no reality shows on my list. I was tired of them years ago, and quit watching them all together.

So what’s on your list? What have you given up on? What did you pick up? Is anyone still watching Bones or Once Upon a Time?

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