I just watched the first episode of a horrifyingly ‘real’ and dark miniseries on the BBC called The Escape Artist. This, it seems, is the sort of thing people who like TV like. This and Breaking Bad. Or other shows where it sounds to me like the descent into Hell (katabasis) has no ascent even as far as Purgatory, let alone Paradise. Or, if that’s not the case, in order to satisfy people these days, we seem to need some sort of overarching, convoluted, unfollowable plot, as in Lost — V‘s inability to make said plot comprehensible is probably why it died, same with Alphas.
I understand that Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., all five episodes of which I have watched on Channel 4 on Demand on Saturday mornings, is not doing especially well either ratings-wise or in the reviews. Now, I’ll admit that they’ve done it backwards, with each episode getting better than the last, with the exception of the second which was the worst. But, hey, it’s a fun action show about ordinary people who go around investigating extraordinary things and people. I enjoy it. It’s not especially complicated, it’s not especially dark.
You know what it is?
Also entertaining? The Wolverine.
Now, I’m likely to oversell this film because I was warned going into The Wolverine that it was only ‘okay’. I thought it was better than ‘okay’. I thought it was exactly the sort of story Wolverine belongs in — a straightforward action flick where he hunts and fights bad guys and saves the girl, including exciting moments like bullet-train Kung Fu and Wolvie shot full of arrows. It’s by no means dark like Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. Nor is it especially complicated. Neither does it plumb the depths of human psychology and philosophy.
That’s because it’s a Wolverine film, about a guy whose idea of small talk is asking where the beer is, whose idea of a good night out is one where you don’t cut up too many baddies. We already know the complicated part of his story (they told it to us twice, for Pete’s sake!). What we want is some good, fast, uncomplicated fun.
So if you’ve refrained from watching The Wolverine for reasons other than a moral ban on all things Marvel, I recommend it to you. And if you dropped out of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the first or second episode, I recommend you join back in. It’s not very deep, it’s not edgy, it’s not going to scar you for life. But hopefully it will entertain you. That’s all I’m looking for in TV action dramas.