Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. :: Television Review

SHIELD-cast

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013)
Tuesdays on ABC
Pilot, September 24

Trailer

The most anticipated show of the season, the Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Department, or The Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., was also one of the most talked about television pilots in my household. We are a group of comic book geeks and Joss Whedon fan girls and boys around these parts, and this seemed to be that one show that would touch us all. We were all geared up to love it, to be hooked from the start and to be talking about it just as much after, as before watching. Expectations that high in the air is hard to sustain though, and I am trying to stay slightly airborne with hope and not let the gravity of inevitable let down pull me back down to the ground.

That said, I would be lying if I did not say I was slightly underwhelmed.

But, let’s start with the things I did enjoy. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) for one, who is impossible not to love, has been resurrected from his assumed death to be secretly running “Level 7” of S.H.I.E.L.D. His character was beloved in all of the recent Marvel movies, by fans and fictional characters alike, so it was wise and wonderful to have him “assemble” this team of post-Buffy “Scoobys in suits“. Of course, we have already been served up some foreshadowing, enough to make us contemplate his existence, but not enough to not be damn glad to see him. Clark Gregg is brilliant as this character, and he was the best thing about the pilot, keeping each and every scene up in the “wanting to love this” air. I also loved the return of Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), though I am quite sure she was just a feature in the pilot to help bridge the television series from The Avengers film. I do wish she was actually a regular, as I love the chemistry and connection between Maria and Coulson, but who knows, as her ready to end show winds down its final season she may have a new home here.

agents-of-shield-set-photo-cobie-smulders-clark-gregg

Some of the characters came to me life a little flat, others more likable and interesting to me. The discovery of the first person with power for the series felt a bit too much like the series Heroes to me, but I know that his character (Mike, played by J. August Richards) was a plot device to link together all our characters, from Skye (Chloe Bennet) who seeks him out and runs the one-woman radio show seeking to expose super powers and debunk goverment agencies like S.H.I.E.L.D., to the members of S.H.I.E.L.D. themselves, including the science experts themselves, Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), and the reluctant participant with a “mysterious past“, Agent Melinda May (with the illiteration comic book name, played by Ming-Na Wen, my least favorite of the bunch, thus far). There are a few others thrown into our band of suited up misfits, too, all painted in a mix of broad strokes and television trope stereotypes, that we all hope to grow to care about and believe in.

What do I believe? Well, I believe in Joss, and his exceptional ability to write ensemble casts, and not just write them well, but write them in a way that makes you adore them and root for them, even when they falter and fail. I want to get past the pilot, past the expectations and buzz and “oh my stars this will be the best thing ever” chants and just let this show become a show, and hopefully, carry me up in the air and into this fictional universe – I want to believe.

My husband’s take: Joss did what Joss does well, that is drop you into an ensemble cast and did it quickly. You knew immediately what each character brings to the table – the badass, the nerds, the outsider looking in, and the mysterious stranger. 

One thought on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. :: Television Review

  1. Wasn’t able to catch the pilot but I’ll get it on demand. I was afraid of being underwhelmed w/this one too…taking something that was so BIG in every way in the movies and crunching it down for tv.

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