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Channel hop

Mark Peters

 

This week, the first television foray by Marvel Comics, home to the X-Men and Iron Man, makes its way onto our screens. Created by Joss Whedon (director of cult hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Fox; tomorrow at 9.50pm) is a spin-off of 2012 summer blockbuster The Avengers (also directed by Whedon) and shares links with other films in the Marvel franchise.

After surviving his apparent death in The Avengers, Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg, who has played the character in four Marvel movies) puts together a super-secret espionage team to look into a rash of new superhumans. His young and Disney-beautiful team, which includes Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders; How I Met Your Mother, The Avengers) and Melinda May (Macau-born Ming Na; The Joy Luck Club), begins by investigating a man who has survived an exploding building after having acquired a dose of life-saving powers. Unfortunately, these powers, bestowed upon him by the shady organisation behind the mysterious Project Centipede, also make the poor fella an unstable, ticking time bomb and it's up to S.H.I.E.L.D (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division, in case you were wondering) to save the day before he goes all kaboomy.

It's a show more about the little guys than the superheroes so, while there is plenty of action and excitement, it relies on an intelligent script and witty banter, and, with just the right whiff of cheese, it's far more humorous than many so-called TV comedies. It's good ol' family-friendly fun with a strong premiere for a much-hyped show. And, with the wonderful Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as Nick Fury in the second episode, things can only get better.

If a man about to internally combust isn't freaky enough for you to marvel at (seriously, you can't buy this type of comedy gold) then perhaps you'll find the people of Forbidden more to your strange tastes. Discovery Channel's new look-at-the-weirdos documentary series, beginning this Thursday at 10pm, takes a peak behind the curtain at some of the acts both bizarre and taboo that float the boat of "everyday" folk.

Beginning in the United States with a man obsessed by the subculture of mummification, this is a truly international compilation of deviance, as we are then whisked to Australia to meet Pony Girl, a woman who has spent half her life living as, you guessed it, a horse. (Foilable with a mere pocketful of sugar cubes, she'd make a pretty shoddy agent of S.H.I.E.L.D). Placing the cherry on this week's cupcake of crazy are some Mexicans. Known as "the furries", this Monterrey-based collective dress up in home-made cartoon-animal costumes to express their love for man and beast. Their unique dress sense gives them the confidence to be friendlier and more affectionate as they go about their daily role-playing business, and it's no doubt all good harmless fun - until, that is, Sylvester the Cat catches Speedy Gonzales jumping the queue in the local Pollo Campero fast-food outlet and it all gets a bit loco.

Decidedly average Miami mobster drama Magic City (above) begins its second season tonight (FX, 10pm) and fans of hotel debauchery had better enjoy it while they can because it seems the lacklustre magic won't continue far past this brief review - the programme was given the chop after this series was made.

 

 

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