Top 5 TV: ‘Evil Dead’ Sees Starz, ‘S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Goes Intergalactic
Doesn’t it seem like the best characters on TV right now are non-fictional? This past week, a colorful slate of Republican presidential candidates took part in a debate so tense and sloppy that it may change the way those events are televised in the future. Warriors point guard Steph Curry and the world champion Kansas City Royals gave prestige-TV–level performances. Meanwhile, a Project Greenlight season that’s raised questions about diversity and privilege in Hollywood ended with one final stand-off between producer Effie Brown and writer-director Jason Mann. (And how perfect is it that the current state of show business can be summed up by a personality clash between a black woman named “Brown” and a white man named “Mann”?)
That explains why we’ve got realness all up and down our weekly list of the best and most memorable television — from an outstanding HBO documentary to a venerable reality competition, with an inspired Comedy Central prank show wedged in between. Yes, we also leave Earth behind to visit a dangerous distant planet, coming back in time to ward off an attack from another dimension. But it’s the truth that’s haunting us this week, in the form of a game, an argument, or one bittersweet dance.
5. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. goes out of this world (ABC)
The flagship series in Marvel’s television universe has been reliably entertaining but rarely special, outside of the occasional stunning action sequence or crazy plot-twist. But “4,722 Hours” tried something new, and the change-of-pace really clicked. Earlier this season, S.H.I.E.L.D. retrieved one of their own, Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), from a distant planet where she’d been stranded for over six months. Last week, we found out how she spent that exile: fighting and eating the local wildlife, pining for her co-worker/admirer Leo Fitz (Iain de Caestecker), and meeting another intergalactic castaway in NASA astronaut Will Daniels (Dillon Casey).
From the blue-tinted alien vistas to the callbacks to sci-fi classics like 2001 and Planet of the Apes, this episode has a look and feel unlike any other episode the series has aired to date. But the left-field approach is really just meant to illustrate how Simmons adjusts to her new life, and why that matters. She starts out sure that Fitz will save her, but time and circumstances wear her down until she eventually falls for her new intergalactic companion — which makes her eventual rescue more of a romantic tragedy. Between the Marvel movie tie-ins and the complicated narrative, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has to do a lot of heavy lifting from week to week. But as seen here, there’s still something to be said for old-school TV, where an episode just delivers one powerful story, told extremely well.