Reviews / TV

TV REVIEW: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Requires Having Faith in Joss Whedon

Clark-Gregg-and-Joss-Whedon-on-the-set-of-Marvels-Agents-of-SHIELD-TV-Series

“And then, when I say action, you will start doing the Arabian Cha-Cha naked while playing the violin…”

 

In Joss we trust?

 

Far be it from me to judge a new television show on only one episode.  Thus to be fair, I will be judging it on two.  Like myself, the 3.9 billion professional armchair quarterbacks out there know that pilot episodes of any series tend to be some of the weakest of any series.  Like silicon at the Playboy Mansion, there always tends to be too much of everything: characters, parallel story lines, forced humor, quirky personalities and silicon.

 

Being what the “Law of Pilots” is, I decided to give ’s highly anticipated Avengers spin-off, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a two show trial before getting too critical with my review to you.  (See what I did there?  I used two not twice, but thrice.  Alas, I digress.)

 


Compared to the trailer, the series has so far come across like a comedy (without the funny).

 

So how did the Superhero boob tube series fair for its two first sessions.  For those that have mastered the writing that is Outlaw-ese, read on for my unofficially-official thoughts.

 

 

The Good

–          Cobie Smulders, Nick Fury, & The Lovely Ladies of Shield

agents-of-shield-cobie-smulders

Once an Outlaw future ex-wife, always an Outlaw future ex-wife.

 

  • If you read my Avengers movie review, one of my favorite aspects of the movie was watching Agent Hill (Cobie Smulders) kick ass and look good doing it.  Hence my over-excited response (don’t ask) to seeing her reprise her role for the pilot of the new ABC show.  While the suit wasn’t quite as tight, and other obligations will keep her from being a regular this season, the fact there is potential to possibly see her on a weekly basis was enough to sell me on tuning in religiously.

 

  • Not only that, but it seemed like every female that graced the screen in the pilot had me drooling all over my Ghostbusters jersey like I was watching a steak sear on the grill after not having eaten anything in four months.  While it won’t garner feminist rights equality awards, the show does represent the abundance of attractive women as depicted from the world of comics, so you won’t see me complaining about this type of thing… ever.

 

  • Color me surprised when I saw the original owner of the “BMF” wallet-owning hit-man grace my silver screen during the final scene of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s second episode.  In about 30 seconds, Marvel’s little TV darling felt much more official, for lack of a better word and for the fact I just used it twice a few sentence’s ago.

 

 

–          Marvel story integration

Marvel Heroes

“How much is that sad toy-obsessed eight-year-old in the window, arf, arf!”

 

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hits the ground running right from the introduction where Joss Whedon basically tells the viewers they better go buy The Avengers on some form of new-fangled media (and presumably watch it) if you have any hopes of staying current in this Marvel universe.

 

  • In addition to the continuing story line from The Avengers, it was also very cool to see the story line revolve around the events of Iron Man 3 and the Extremis project.

 

  • As per Joss Whedon’s own words, “We’re absolutely on top of all the movies. We never contradict, replicate – we will be flowing in between them, maybe occasionally we’ll throw something in that foreshadows [or] echoes but we’re very much beholden to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.”

 

 

–          Humor

agents of shield 650 corr marvel COVER

“Stop me if you’ve heard it… so Thor, Iron Man, The Hulk and Captain America walk into a Shawarma bar…”

 

  • As with Whedon did with the Avengers, he injected enough humor into the pilot to give it a similar feel it the feature film the television world is based on.  Actually, there seemed to be an attempt at humor on a consistent basis, and there were some great lines from the main man Coulson himself…

 

 

The Bad

–          Humor / Campy

Agents-of-SHIELD-1x01-007-Scientists

Note to Joss:  Just because they have British accents, doesn’t automatically make them likeable (or funny).

 

  • … and there were also some cheesey lines and awkward moments served alongside.  I’m not going to relive any of these, but I felt like there was an attempt to integrate too much humor into the show.  This did one of two things, one of which included making the show feel campier and less serious than it should have been.  The other is the fact that half the humor fell flat.  The second episode seemed to ease up on the attempted humor throttle, but it still felt like there were many things I should of laughed at but didn’t.  Be it the cast, the delivery, or the writing – this isn’t a comedy, and trying to go for non-stop laughs feels more awkward than funny.  Especially when they just aren’t necessary.

 

 

–          Too much intro and wrapped up too neatly

SHIELD-cast

Too much cast, too much story, too much conclusion, too little time.

 

  • On the subject of too much, it also felt like there was way too much going on in the pilot.  Specifically too many new characters fighting each other for screen time all at once.  While each were unique enough in their own way, it was almost as if they were all too unique, if that makes sense.  At times I felt like I was watching a Wringling Brothers Circus production or having dinner at Liberace’s house.

 

  • With all of those introductions and back stories being introduced, the pilot wrapped up like a sappy sitcom from the ’90’s.  Not only did everything work out for the best (without explanation how a cure was obtained for the caterpillar Extremis gentleman) but, a few of the skeptical recruits to the team were all smiley happy and presented as good foot soldiers by the end of the episode.  As an overly sensitive hopeless romantic, I for one enjoy my happy endings (you all can remove your mind from the gutter now as I just did), but even this pilot ending was way too convenient.  Again, the following episode did a better job of making lemonade out of water, sugar and artificial lemon flavors, but everything seemed to wrap up much too nicely again.  While there is one minor exception to that that rule, even the twist felt obligatory and dare I say, predictable?

 

 

–          Back to the Future rip-off, really?

flying-car-agents-of-shield

“New ideas, where we’re going we don’t need new ideas. Yeah, how did you know we are going to Hollywood?!”

 

  • Nerd culture nods were abound in the S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot, but the one that stood out to me the most was Agent Coulson’s cherry red convertible, Lola,  pulling a “Roads, where we’re going, we don’t need roads” maneuver as it flew off for the next adventure.  I’m the first to admit that taking ideas from other concepts within the geek-world can be a form of flattery, but the flying car at the end of the movie was such a blatant rip-ff of everyone’s favorite time-traveling McFly series, the salmon I had for dinner started swimming back upstream.  First you bring Michael J. Fox back to TV to poke fun at his own disease, now this?  I’d be rolling over in my grave if I was in one.

 

 

The Whedon

–          Dr. is the Firefly preacher

Preacher

Whedon better not have talked me into another one season series…

 

  • Being a Whedon-directed and written show, it’s pretty clear to see his dirty little nerd fingerprints all over the show.  One of those finger prints is the appearance of Firefly alum Ron Glass (Shepard Book) who plays S.H.I.E.L.D. medical man, Dr. Strieten.  Kind of gives you hope a few other Serenity crew members also show their faces at some point during the season.

 

–          Nods to geekiness / Cosplay / T-1000

  • Being that Joss is just a big nerd at heart, nerd culture references ran amok through most of the shows inaugural episode, including some Terminator humor, Thor jokes, and a funny mention about the current popularity of cosplay culture.  These types of nerd nuggets alone will have geeks watching the show in droves almost regardless of quality… almost.

 

–          Coulson is a Joss kind of character

Kissing Joss

It’s sick, and disgusting, and I’m incredibly envious of Mr. Clark.

 

  • Agent Coulson, who is essentially the leader of the pack, is in many ways a reflection of Joss himself, a nerd at heart.  From collecting superhero cards, to implementing tricked out gadgets in his car, Coulson is the epitome of a 13-year old wearing a suit all while getting the chance to play a secret agent, and more importantly, having fun with it.

 

For the most part, the first few episodes of S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to deliver some fun moments of geek TV; however, thus far has proved to be an unexpectedly formulaic and predictable onset of events that have felt more sappy than heroic.  For a highly anticipated Marvel universe-based series from Joss Whedon, I wasn’t overly impressed.  Maybe I expected more, or maybe my good taste is deteriorating as quickly as my bladder.

 

header-joss-whedon-explains-agents-of-shield-connection-to-films

Yeah, yeah… it’s a “shield”, I get it.

 

Again, this was only the pilot and follow up adventure, and as mentioned before, there aren’t too many shows out there that struggle to find their footing when attempting to introduce 97 quirky new characters on screen; all of whom are trying to establish their respective roles in about the same amount of time it takes for a cheese pizza with extra cholesterol to get dropped to your door.

 

Clevage

Your role has been established, please carry on.

 

The good news is, there is more than enough potential for this show to be a fun way to geek out on a weekly basis, and I truly have faith in Joss to deliver a more polished show that brings the Marvel universe to the small screen which can also bridge events from the big-screen and provide some teasers of what’s to come in the movie-verse (See Whedon quote above).

 

If the cameo from Mr. “Hold-onto-your-butts” Jackson is any indication of the stunts the show is willing to pull-off to get more eyeballs to the home media window, you can consider my retinas crazy-glued to future episodes.  Still, that’s doesn’t mask the fact the show needs to improve in more than a few facets, specifically the acting and story-telling department.

 

Sam Jackson Cameo

“No really, say “What” again and it will be the last time I do a network TV cameo.”

 

For the time being, in Joss I still trust… until the end of the season anyway.

 

3 Spurs

 

(Marvel’s Agent’s of SHIELD airs Tuesday evenings at 8/7c on ABC)

agents-of-shield-poster

Hey, at least the PR material is cool.

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