TV Reviews

'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' is Very Whedon-y

Not bad, but not something I'll watch each week

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Pilot TV Review
Photo: ABC / Marvel

After watching the first season pilot for ABC and Marvel's "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." I can see where the appeal for die-hard fans of The Avengers theatrical franchise comes into play as it plays heavily on the final events of the superhero team-up and introduces the continuation of the Extremis plan introduced in Iron Man 3. The character introduction and the return of Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson (whose death was faked in The Avengers) is cheesy, but all of the actors fit into the universe of what is essentially just more well-executed, somewhat tiresome Joss Whedon snark.

It ultimately works, but I can't really imagine watching on an episode-by-episode basis. Even the after-show teaser for the rest of the season suggests we "won't want to miss the final minutes of every episode", which tells me this thing is going to be filled with cliffhangers galore. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just something that would become incredibly tiresome without having each episode available on an instant basis.

From a character perspective all the boxes are checked from the cute Chloe Bennet as Skye, who is essentially the Eliza Dushku or Sarah Michelle Gellar stand-in; Brett Dalton as new recruit Grant Ward who really isn't sure he wants to be involved but we all know he really does; Ming-Na Wen as the mysterious Melinda May who has some ass-kicking ability of her own; and the ever-so-clever Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge as geeky S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, or "Fitzsimmons" as Coulson so cleverly refers to them.

Cobie Smulders shows up for a minute or two as Maria Hill to keep the Avengers thread alive and I can't quite tell how big a role J. August Richards will play as Mike Peterson, but his tie to the "Caterpillar" project (some Extremis thing) and connection to a doctor and some clandestine group trying to create superhumans seems as if it will be the season-long plotline so I imagine he'll be back for more.

One thing I wonder is how they'll handle the feature films. Will this play into Thor: The Dark World? Will this introduce Edgar Wright's Ant-Man? How much of this will be recognized in The Avengers: Age of Ultron?

Overall, the series seems far more thought out than "Heroes" ever was and has the advantage of learning from that show's mistakes. On top of that, I imagine it will remain relatively safe so as not to buck the theatrical releases where Marvel will hope to continually make billions.

I expect I may return to the series once the entirety of the first season is complete or in multiple episode bursts, but the cliffhanger nature of it guarantees I won't be tuning in each week, it's just not interesting enough for that.

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  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Winchester/ Winchester

    Premieres here Friday evening. I'll check it out then and either come back here or hold for WIW, WYW.

    I've never disliked a Whedon show yet but this is a slightly different proposition since he's not necessarily 'running' it and hasn't ever had to tie in his storylines to a multi-character movie universe before.

    They're will be plenty of references for clued up fans I imagine though, easter egg type things.

  • http://couchpotatodigest.blogspot.com Matt Taylor

    I just finished watching and and am surprised with how much I enjoyed it. It was entertaining, the cast was surprisingly strong and I'm always up for some Joss Whedon banter. But I hope the show actually builds some mythology instead of being a simple superhero procedural. "Buffy" managed to find a balance between the two, so I'm sure this has the potential to do the same, though the fact that Whedon isn't going to be involved with the rest of the season, outside of his role as producer, is somewhat worrisome.

    I can't see myself tuning in on a weekly basis (especially since I'm pretty busy on Tuesday nights) but I won't mind letting this build up on my Hulu queue and marathoning through it when I have a free moment.

  • Good Grief

    I found it to be just another slice of mediocre television. It wasn't BAD per se, but it's quite obviously been over-hyped.
    It would be a million times better if the Leo Fitz character was cut out. Oh look, a bumbling British genius! How quaint! How cute! Fuck off. I was hoping this show wouldn't bow down to tedious tropes. No such luck.

    All in all it just felt like another run-of-the-mill procedural. I'll stick with it but I don't see how the pilot implies this show will stand out from the crowd.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/andyluvsfilms/ andyluvsfilms

    I'm gonna dismiss it straight away based on how young, attractive and marketable the supporting cast is, yes i know that comes across as shallow but someone's gotta make a stand #wink

    • Micah Byrd

      Great point. I felt the same way. I liked the show but felt like I was watching an Abercrombie ad...

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/jgolding/ Justin Golding

    I'd give the pilot a solid C+. The one thing I did hate was the two bumbling scientist/forensic members of the team; I feel like they are going to become tiresome. Like a lot of shows that air on the CW/ABC I feel like this show is either going to live or die based on the villians. I'm probably going to give it five more episodes to decide whether I stick with it or not.

  • http://www.smartfilm.blogspot.com SmartFilm

    Yeah, it was very mediocre to me. Hardly a must-watch.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Adu/ Adu

    I'm with you Brad, just going to record all the episodes and try to check them off in one go. I'm not a fan of many television shows to begin with and the ones that end on cliffhangers just make me mad, so this is the best way.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Ryguy815/ Ryguy815

    I thought it was really good personally. Probably my favourite new show of the year so far.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/ashdurdin/ ashdurdin

    I really liked it, although they may have relied a bit too heavily on references to the films.

  • Micah Byrd

    The only problem I have with this episode, and I suppose the series as a whole, is that the wealth of characters at Marvel's disposal is so vast that not using even some of the more marginal ones seems like a shame. There are PLENTY of actual members of the Marvel mythology to go with, even if they aren't really representative of their respective series'. Why NOT find a guy who physically fits the part of the subject of last night's episode and name him Luke Cage. Why not give us a recognizable names to go along with these faces. It's not like Marvel is going to give us a Moon Knight or Alpha Flight movie. Could have used characters from that or any other number of sources. Just makes it easier for longtime fans to say "Oh so THAT'S who they got to play xxxxxxx"....

    • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/ Brad Brevet

      My guess would be because as soon as you name an actor to play Luke Cage on the show, it hurts his chances of showing up on the big screen or puts them in a corner. By creating new characters they can do with them as they please and not rock the boat.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/maja/ maja

    It's one of those safe shows that you know what to expect which isn't really for me. I'd rather spend time watching something I haven't seen being done 100times before.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Newbourne/ Newbourne

    I didn't like it, but then again, I didn't like The Avengers either. It's kinda sad that I'm not enjoying these projects when I was such a big fan of these characters as a kid.

    As for tying in to the movie, I'm guessing they can have the agents of the show cameo in future films, in the same way Hawkeye and Widow have been doing already.

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/JNFilms/ JN Films

    Like Matt Taylor was saying they really need a good villian that keeps us wanting to watch from week to week. The show is mediocre and the only reason I didn't change the channel half way through was Whedon's humor.

  • http://lifein70mm.wordpress.com ViralVora

    I found it more entertaining than the actual avengers movie! the episode i thought had good humor and the action bits werent half bad - even for someone not entirely familiar with the entire marvel universe this show could work quite well. and I agree it has better prospects than Heroes ever did.

    I am willing to give this a few more weeks before finally making up my mind about the show and whether i will invest an hour each week or not but so far whatever I saw it has me intrigued - plus the easter eggs about what actually happened to coulson and who melinda may really is - it has me interested for sure.

  • http://lifein70mm.wordpress.com ViralVora

    on a different topic how underwhelming was The Blacklist - Spader is brilliant but the plot is so riddled with cliches that it was tiresome to even get through the first episode - I hope the second one is better

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/racquetman/ racquetman

    I think everyone knows a gorgeous woman who can hack the most secure computers in the world from her piece of sh*t van parked in a back alley somewhere. I know a couple of them. They both always emerge from their vans looking like a team of people spent hours making them over, too!

    Just another moronic show in a long, long line of stupid shows on network TV.........

  • http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/profile/Corbin/ Corbin

    I thought it was pretty good.