Critical mass-marketing and spring cleaning

Dave Bartlett
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My patience with everything superhero snapped this week, like the spine of a supervillian minion in the grasp of The Hulk.

Cobie Smulders (left) as Agent Maria Hill and Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, members of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”  — Submitted photo.

I thought I finally might get back to watching “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” as a half-dozen episodes or more have built up on my PVR, when I happened to read a sentence on the Internet which made me kind of angry.

I was visiting the AVClub and saw an article on the show, which warned fans to make sure they see the new Captain America movie before that week’s episode, as there was a tie in, and potentially a spoiler.

I loved superheroes growing up as much as any young lad, I collected my share of comic book titles and literally jumped up and down when Marvel started making “Xmen” movies when I was in my early 20s.

But this amount of cross-promotion seemed really over the top, and made me wonder just how much this plan to integrate Marvel’s movie properties — and the S.H.I.E.L.D. show — is a poorly thought-out cash grab, and will only ultimate alienate people, both super-fans and casual viewers alike.

Even when I was in grade school, Marvel had a marketing plan of annuals — where once a year a story line, or several story-lines, would bleed across a number of titles as a cross promotional way to get fans of, say, “Spiderman” or “The Avengers” to start buying newer titles like “The New Warriors,” or “Darkhawk.”

An extra couple of bucks once a year isn’t too bad compared to the cost of two trips to the movie theatre for tie ins to the first season of the show — the second “Thor” movie, which came out this fall, also tied into S.H.I.E.L.D.

I do think it’s neat to try to bring these stories together and create a cohesive, alternative universe, but at the same time I don’t want to have to put a TV series on hold until I make it to the movies.

Speaking of the series, while I’m certainly a Joss Whedon fan and enjoyed the first few episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D., it hasn’t made me pine for it from week to week. I’ll finish the first season for sure, but all of a sudden I’m in no rush. I wonder if others feel the same and a backlash is brewing? The Internet scuttlebutt suggests the show will be renewed for a second season.

A big screen sequel

I think the problem is that I never seem to find time to go to the movies much anymore, and in fact missed the “Veronica Mars” movie when it played here in St. John’s for a week not that long ago.

I was a big fan of the show’s first two seasons, but thought the third was just OK. I did really liked the idea of the teenage sleuth played by Kristen Bell being recruited by the FBI, as was the plan for the show.

Series creator Rob Thomas wrote a feature film to finish the story, and fans funded the film using Kickstarter, the online crowd-sourcing site. But it has received mixed reviews.

Glad I stopped watching

I was, however, very excited to see Netflix add the movie “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” to its rotation, which stars Bell and a number of other TV stars who were all up and comers at the time of its release, including Mila Kunis (“That 70s Show,” “Family Guy”) and Jason Segel (“Freaks and Geeks,” “How I met Your Mother”).

If there’s one actor who seems to channel my personality in his characters it’s Segel, and he’s one of the reasons I became a fan of HIMYM, which finally ended its 208-episode run this month.

And boy am I glad I gave up on what was once my favourite sitcoms when I did a couple of years back. Fans have not reacted well to the finale. I’m not sure why, or even if I care, but I have a feeling one of these days I’ll go back and finish the series.

Now that’s over, I wonder if Cobie Smulders will join S.H.I.E.L.D. next year and if she can add whatever seems to be missing.

Finally, I want to acknowledge a reader who urged me to stick with “Dexter” until an episode in Season 4, which proves he’s an antihero. I’ll take your word for it, but it will likely be a while before I get that far into it.

Like a number of other shows, its dark undertones are intriguing, but with so much good TV going down that road, it’s getting harder to find something lighthearted to temper that darkness.

Winter is over, so “Game of Thrones” can wait. What

lighthearted series are worth a watch as the spring sun returns? Correspondence goes to Dave Bartlett at

talkingtelevsion@gmail.com.

Organizations: FBI, Family Guy

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