Starting with the obvious disadvantage of not being able to afford Robert Downey Jr. or Scarlett Johansson, "S.H.I.E.L.D." wisely resurrected the scene-stealing Agent Coulson (
In early episodes, it often seemed to be treading water as a comic-book procedural with only a loose relationship to the films. An uber-plot, involving an arch nemesis called the clairvoyant, turned up the heat a bit. Then "Captain America: Winter Soldier" premiered and all became clear -- S.H.I.E.L.D. was riddled with traitors.
The show kicked into high gear, providing an on-the-ground look at all the film glossed over and forcing Coulson and his team to eye each other suspiciously until it was revealed that the strong and silent Grant (Brett Dalton) was the scorpion in their midst.
But is he really? The season finale should answer that question as well as what form this ever-morphing show will take next season, with S.H.I.E.L.D. now compromised to the point that the good guys are forced to be vigilantes. That should up the stakes and strengthen the bonds between those left. The more interesting question, though, is how will the show continue to relate to, or perhaps even set up, the next big Marvel movie. Even in its weakest episodes "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is like nothing else on television.
We all know where it's going, of course, and as if knowing that there's no topping the original, screenwriters Scott Abbott and
"Penny Dreadful": "They did the mash, they did the monster mash." It's tough not to bring the song to mind (where it will rattle endlessly for days) while watching Showtime's "Penny Dreadful," which takes any character that could even vaguely be considered Victorian gothic, rolls that into a ball and throws it against the wall, where it explodes with blood and guts and lots of stand-up sex featuring women in corsets.
Beginning unforgivably with the horrific murder of a woman and her young daughter, "Penny Dreadful" introduces Timothy Dalton and