Before the public at large were aware of Nick Fury, ABC’s long struggling “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” and the overall organization from the Marvel Cinematic movies, there were 1998’s “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Long ago when comic book movies were still concepts and properties that studios were hesitant to touch, FOX Studios in America aired the TV movie/pilot movie to little fanfare. Said movie starred David Hasselhoff (cast by virtue of the fact that he looks like classic Nick Fury and nothing more) fresh off of “Baywatch,” and starring as the classic Nick Fury before his re-imagining in the aughts in the Samuel L. Jackson mold. The classic Col. Nick Fury was a tough and grizzled war veteran with dark hair and signature white on the sides. He also donned the trademark eye patch and cigar, leading one of the most covert and top secret organizations in the Marvel Universe.
FOX had the foresight to turn the idea of S.H.I.E.L.D in to something of a team spy show much in the vein of “Mission Impossible” long before ABC did. And while the series never took off, you have to appreciate their ambition in taking what was then an obscure element of the Marvel Universe and molding it to fit a weekly action series. Veteran TV director Rod Hardy and writer David S. Goyer turn the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D in to a decidedly roughneck group of ragtag superspies a la “A Team” with a dose of “Airwolf.” During the late nineties with Marvel selling every property they could, “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D” had potential for something of an over the top but enjoyable series where the Hoff could ham it up as the old war dog. If anything the biggest flaw to “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D” is that writer Goyer turns Nick in to a pseudo-Snake Plissken.
Hasselhoff seems to be playing more toward Kurt Russell than an old army veteran, and Fury is even given a contrived motivation in the plot like Plissken. Here, Fury is poisoned by Viper, the daughter of Baron Von Strucker, and Fury is doomed to die by the poison. He has 48 hours to track down Viper and garner blood from her to synthesize an antidote, all the while helping S.H.I.E.L.D stop the activation of a weapon of mass destruction known as the Death’s Head, which promises to destroy the world. “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D” is unabashedly silly and relies a lot on camp, when it could have been a stern spy thriller with Hasselhoff taking a more dramatic angle as the show’s titular hero. In spite of that though, “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D” is at least ambitious and very sleek looking.
Star David Hasselhoff seems to be having a ball playing the cigar chomping spy who’d probably roll his eyes at Spider-Man and challenge Captain America to a drinking contest. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the performance by Sandra Hess who is sexy as villainous “Viper,” who looks like she was lifted right out of a 1930’s movie serial. Lisa Rinna also gets points for her spy character Contessa Valentina de Allegro Fontaine. The name just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it? “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D” no masterpiece compared to the contemporary Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it gets points for effort and entertainment value. I definitely enjoyed it more now than I did back when I was fifteen. You have to wonder how different today’s live action comic book landscape would look if “Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D” took off as a hit series, don’t you?