Falcon/Winter

Anthony Mackie, left, and Sebastian Stan star in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier," the next television series in the Marvel universe. 

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There was some confusion, if not outright division, among Marvel fans after the first few episodes of Disney+’s “WandaVision,” which recreated the look and feel of classic TV sitcoms. Eventually, the show turned into a more traditional Marvel story that explained why Vision and the Scarlet Witch seemed to be living on the set of the "Dick Van Dyke Show."

So, just to mess with the fan base a little more, I would have loved it if Marvel’s new show, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” would have mimicked classic TV dramas. The first episode could be a “Perry Mason”-style legal drama, the second a “Rockford Files” detective show, maybe a little “Miami Vice” for Episode 3.

But, based on the first (and only) episode that Disney+ released to critics ahead of its Friday premiere, Marvel fans should feel that they’re on very familiar ground with “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” The first episode opens with a gangbusters aerial action sequence featuring The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) swooping amid helicopters, missiles and base jumping bad guys. It’s a lot of fun.

Aside from that, Episode 1 mostly sets the table for the series rather than giving a clear sense of where it’s going. The show takes place several months after “The Blip” chronicled in the last two “Avengers” movies, in which half of Earth’s population disappeared for five years.

Sam Wilson, aka Falcon, was one of those who “blipped,” and is still readjusting to the fact that he missed the last five years. Most significantly, he seems to have rejected Steve Rogers' offer to take the shield and become the next Captain America, at a time when the world is adrift and in need of heroes.

Instead, Sam heads back home to Louisiana and is trying to save his family fishing business. Mackie is enormously appealing as the low-key Sam, especially in scenes with Sam’s sister Sarah (the wonderful Adepero Oduye of “Pariah”), who has struggled to keep the business going. Sam may be the Falcon, but that doesn’t mean the local bank will give a working-class Black family a loan, even if the bank manager wants to take a selfie with him.

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The show also follows Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), certainly the most tormented character in history with the name Bucky. Bucky is still wracked with guilt over the evil deeds he committed as the Winter Soldier, an assassin mind-controlled by the villainous Hydra, but sees no way to atone.

All in all, it’s a show that’s moodier than one might expect from Marvel. Part of that is the hourlong format (there are six episodes in this season), which allows a little more room for the characters to breathe, instead of rushing to the next battle. But there’s also an overarching sense of loss in the show — both Bucky and Falcon are defined in the Marvel Cinematic Universe by their friendship to Captain America. And he’s gone.

We’ll see where this goes — it could be all slam-bang action for Episodes 2 through 6. But so far, the first episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” has laid the right emotional groundwork for an interesting show.

Also on streaming: Elie Ben-David drew from his own life experience when creating the show “The Attaché,” which follows an Israeli musician who experiences culture shock when he relocates to Paris. The bittersweet show premieres Monday on Acorn TV.

The last live comedy show I saw before the shutdown hit was Nate Bargatze at the Orpheum Theater over a year ago. Bargatze draws some material from that show along with, of course, the last year in his new Netflix special, “The Greatest Average American.” He performs before an audience that’s socially distanced, of course.