Retro Marvel TV
Nick Fury as Played by David Hasselhoff Is Secret Agent Ham

Bob Chipman | 13 Aug 2014 12:00
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nick fury agent of shield poster

As ideas go, it's a pretty damn good one: John Wayne reborn as James Bond with access to the cool sci-fi gadgetry of the Marvel Universe -- a Russian Nesting Doll of what ten year-olds think constitutes machismo. And the series really took off when it became (however briefly) the playground of enigmatic super-artist Jim Steranko who... egh, look, just Google that name and spend a few hours being amazed that this person actually exists. Suffice it to say, this is where about 90% of the cool spy stuff in both The Avengers and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is culled from.

Unfortunately, even with Steranko's help Fury couldn't really sustain his own book much past the 60s. But! S.H.I.E.L.D.'s usefulness as a linking-device to propel and direct event in the Marvel Universe made Fury ubiquitous in almost everyone else's books -- one of Marvel's most-prominent characters all throughout the Cold War cloak n' dagger days. And in the 90s... they decided to give him a try on TV.

Here's the thing about the 1998 TV movie that was supposed to serve as pilot for Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.: It's actually kind of... good.

NOT objectively, un-ironically good, mind you -- but it's decently fun and, unlike so many of the shows covered in this series it's running toward its comic book origins, trying its level best to include as much of the arch characterizations, broad storytelling and outlandish goings-on from the S.H.I.E.L.D. of the comics as it can, albeit the EXTREME!!! 90s version (it's all black leather, sneers and post-historic disaffection). Still, it's kinetic, it loves to trot out insane plot-convenient gadgetry, aims to keep things moving and is mainly glimpsed through the eyes of camera that never met a dutched-composition they didn't like and seldom cut to close-up when a rapid zoom or pull-in might be more fun.

Oh, and David Hasselhoff is Fury. So it's got that going for it.

The premise is about as close as one can come to an accurate version of "S.H.I.E.L.D,-classic" without being able to draw from anywhere else in the Marvel canon: Andrea Von Strucker, daughter of cryogenically-frozen Nazi supervillain Baron Wolfgang, has reacquired her frozen Pop and along with him a biological weapon she plans to unleash on New York in a bid to revive the all-but defunct HYDRA organization. In desperation, S.H.I.E.L.D. calls troublemaking badass Nick Fury (here not, apparently, a near-immortal WWII-era hero) back to active duty (he was kicked out for being too badass, basically) to stop her.

That's... about it, really -- the plot is nakedly just a standard-issue action setup to allow for introductions to the characters, world and "cool stuff" that would be part of the hoped-for series. Fury fights the bad guys, romances a fellow agent, shows his sniveling "superiors" who wears the patch in the family and wins the day; though with The Von Struckers, HYDRA and even Arnim Zola set up to return, possibly in forms closer to their comics-counterparts.

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