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Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. Spoilers to follow!!!
I don’t think I liked the pilot of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. 
There, I said it. In fact, I’m pretty sure the only thing I actually did like about it was Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson (which was sort of a given). But wasn’t the whole show supposed to be a given? Wasn’t this a geek no-brainer? Like, no matter what: Whedon(s) + Coulson + super hero stuff + spy stuff + Marvel universe = A thing that all geeks will love until the coming of Galactus? I don’t know. It just didn’t hit for me in any of the areas I expected it to, or hoped it would.

Characters: Coulson – Great. Just great. I love Clark Gregg as Coulson and I want to see more of him all the time. Also, he’s probably still all or mostly dead.
Ward: Pretty guy. Delivers lines about being a by the book bad ass, but doesn’t seem to believe them. I hope he gets better.
Fitz/Simmons: Whedon demands a Willow. Willow was great and got greater. Topher (Dollhouse) was a better Willow than Willow. Fitz/Simmons are a lesser Topher, further divided by being incased inside of two different people who serve the function of one character. Not sure about these two. I will either love them by mid season or pray for their deaths.
Skye: Whedon has cast another Dushku. This does not bode well.
Dr. Shepard Book: Hey! It’s Shepard Book! As a doctor!

Story: What is even going on here? S.H.I.E.L.D. was this massive organization with a Hellicarrier and tons of foot soldiers and Quinjets and all these resources and now it seems to be a small government agency run out of a small government building and a large airplane that spends most of it’s time on the ground being an office. I don’t remember them establishing that Coulson was putting together a special unit or a tiny team that would carry out certain missions of importance. It seems like he’s just randomly recruiting new people to… keep doing what S.H.I.E.L.D. already does (police the activities of super heroes booth good and evil/protect regular dummies from knowing so much that they can’t get through their regular dummy lives). I needed a mission imperative or an event that creating a new team would be a response to. They hinted that The Battle Of New York (The Avengers) was an escalation point, but I didn’t see it as the impetus for “Getting Super Serious” and gathering new talent. Maybe I missed something.

Things are further complicated/confused by the fact that Skye reveals herself to be the villain/organization/terror threat they are fighting/seeking out in the beginning of the episode, The Rising Tide. Then they sort of ignore this and recruit her for S.H.I.E.L.D. for her l33t hax0ring skillz. This is where my comprehension of the story totally jumps ship. She already KNOWS what S.H.I.E.L.D. is and isn’t her whole purpose to BRING THEM DOWN?! To prevent them from keeping people from knowing the truth about super heroes? Doesn’t she make this abundantly clear? Don’t they catch her in the act of doing this? Coulson doesn’t say, “Work for us or go to that prison hole from Batman 3 for the rest of your life.” He just ignores everything and invites her to sign up for fun times in a flying car.

Then the whole, “They used everything we know from The Avengers and Iron Man 3 (super solider serum, gamma radiation, alient metal, Extremis) mixed together to make a super hero,” plot line just rubbed me the wrong way. Just seemed like a lazy tie in to the movies and an easy way to blow there “How are we going to get more super heroes/villains?” wad for the whole season in the first hour.

Writing: The pilot felt like a script that had too many rewrites and ended up with a lot of incongruous elements. The humorous moments were all Coulson’s and seemed like Whedon did punch up on a script that he didn’t write (though he does have a writing credit).

Acting: Too early to judge. Clark Gregg is great, but you already knew that. Everyone else seems SUPER green. J. August Richards seemed out of his element. Again, like a guy that knew the words he was supposed to say, but didn’t believe them. The more the “Centipede/super serum/Extremis/whatever” takes over, the less believable his performance becomes. Baby Dushku is… baby Dushku. Ward seems like a blank slate. At most I expect he will be inoffensive.

Bottom Line: I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO BELIEVE ANY MORE! Maybe I’m too old, or maybe my tastes have changed too much since the last time Whedon had a TV show I really loved. I didn’t care for Iron Man 3, but I loved Iron Man 2 (the one EVERYONE hates), and I wouldn’t loose any sleep if  Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t have a second episode. I found it unfocused and boring. What is wrong with me?

COMMENTERS: What did you think of Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D? Mild spoilers are OK.  

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Comments (63)

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Kschenke's avatar

Kschenke · 90 weeks ago

I liked the majority of the pilot, but yes it wasn’t necessarily mindblowing. The plot was a little jumbled, but I thought it set up the characters well enough considering we’ve only met two of them before. Plus it’s an action show with three women of various skills in a team of six, so that’s a good thing in my mind. I’ve seen weaker pilots for better shows, so I’m at least up for the next few episodes to see how the momentum builds. Also the “With Great Power” and “Journey into Mystery” references made me happy.
Dave's avatar

Dave · 90 weeks ago

Depends, do you mean “Serenity” or “The Train Job”? I saw “Serenity” first, as Whedon intended, and fell in love immediately. I can’t say how I would have received the show as it aired. I’d say I liked the Dollhouse pilot better than this one.
Good question. Other than Firefly I probably never saw a Whedon show starting with the pilot. Buffy I came in at season 3, and Angel doesnt count because we already knew all the characters.
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

Firefly got me with the first episode, but I saw it in college as part of a marathon so it was soon followed by others. Dollhouse felt like excessive scenes of Dushku being sexy but the meat of the episode grabbed me, then I lost interest around episode 5 or so (apparently it got better, but it just felt too muddy). Buffy and Angel were never my thing, I liked some bits but wouldn’t tune in.
Yeah, pilots are nearly always info dumps. Buffy had a few good gags in the first couple of eps, but took half a season to hit it’s stride and didn’t iron out character inconsistencies until s3 (and then started making new ones after that). i thought SHELD ep 2 was an improvement (albeit with the pretty darn unoriginal `team bonds’ plot) so/but i’m willing to wait & see
Gregory Lynn's avatar

Gregory Lynn · 90 weeks ago

I loved it.

Also, Willow is the Willowest Willow, so while Topher is awesome and all, he’s not a better Willow, because Willow.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

What about Fred. She’s a pretty great Willow. Considering she eventually becomes an Old God, she might be the best Willow.
Dave's avatar

Dave · 90 weeks ago

Ugh, I have to agree. The pilot was painful. At one point I turned to my wife, both of us fairly quiet through the first 20 minutes and said “Boy… they’re really trying WAY too hard aren’t they?”

This Sky character… I absolutely cannot get behind. During the interrogation scene Wife says “Oh no… she’s going to be a regular isn’t she?”

If I have to hear one more time “I did XYZ with a laptop” I’m going to scream.

The only characters that don’t seem like cardboard cut outs are Coulson and Mel. The rest? Throwaways at best, annoying as hell at worst.

I would like to second the question “What happened to the organization that has the resources we saw in the Avengers?” I get that you can’t show that on TV, so show me WHY this group is smaller.

Just… Yuck. Here’s hoping it’s all just a bad case of pilotitis.

5 replies · active 90 weeks ago

Dave's avatar

Dave · 90 weeks ago

Elaboration: There was not one moment… NOT ONE… as simple as Jayne kneeling down to look in on poor gut-shot Kaylee. Just a simple moment like that to give a character some personality and depth. Never happened once in SHIELD.
Exactly. The reason they arent in the Helicarrier is because it would cost a hundred million an episode, but have Coulson say “Im creating an special team to blah blah blah and we arent operating out of the Helicarrier because the Avengers are there and they need to think Im dead or this team needs to function as a splinter cell or WHATEVER.” They can still do this, but it needed to be in the pilot. Skye annoys me like Dushku annoys me and that’s because she’s all looks and attitude and no substance.
Oh and regarding Ming-Na, I love her. I really hope they do a lot with her character. She didnt have two lines in the pilot so I actually forgot her when writing my review.
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

Are we supposed to know what her character IS from past movies? I get “used to do that crap, doesn’t anymore” but the whole time it felt like there was something I was supposed to know that I’d missed.
Nope – they’ve set her up as someone who’s big in SHIELD but not in the wider universe, just laying the foundations for a big character arc.
Kirby's avatar

Kirby · 90 weeks ago

I really liked it. It didn’t really flow that well together, but it did seem like they were trying to set up lots and lots of plots at once, which led it to be disjointed.

Coulson’s comment about the one agent’s family seems like it’s trying to set him up as some kind of son of a mafia don or something like that.

Who is Skye, really?

Why doesn’t this agent want to do field work?

Hill’s comment about Coulson.

Centipede seems like they’re trying to lay the groundwork for a Mr. Fix/Tinkerer character to serve as an overall villain, with someone trying to learn how Extremis and other things work.

Other than that, I think they’re trying to bring it in as this is the quick in and out team. He did say he was putting together his own team, but I don’t think they really gave a particular reason. Probably kind of a quick and quiet response team.

I think we’ll probably come back to the whole Red Dawn things. In the beginning I think she sees them as this big government conspiracy set to keep people in the dark and maybe starts to see things in a different light as things progress? Maybe it’s a buried lead? I on’t really know.

But I loved it, and I think it might be worth seeing how it progresses.

2 replies · active 89 weeks ago

I agree. Especially if they delve into why Agent Mey was reassigned to a desk
DuckAmuck's avatar

DuckAmuck · 89 weeks ago

Yeah, I pretty well freaking loved it too. I thought “This is SO Wheedon.”

“She drew.. I think it’s a poo. With knives sticking out of it.”

Agent Coulson – YES! (set up for more What’s Behind the Curtain He Thinks is Tahiti.)
Cobie Smulders – YES! YES! Love her. Love her. Not wasted on not meeting someone’s mother now.
Ming Na – YES! YES! YES! Wasn’t expecting that one. Set up for her back story.
Fitz & Simmons – YES! YES! AND YES! I just hope they can not talk quite so fast so I can better understand what they’re saying – but YES!

EvilJorge's avatar

EvilJorge · 90 weeks ago

Joel, just accept that you don’t really like anything that doesn’t have an Apple icon on it and move on. It’s fine. We don’t think less of you or anything.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

With regards to television series, that really doesn’t come close to making sense.
thelogos's avatar

thelogos · 90 weeks ago

I didn’t hate it. But, compare it with the first episode of Firefly and how the characters in the latter were fleshed out. It didn’t good job (in fact, I’d say it was crap) of showing why “Rising Tide” was ebil. They made the group out to be like Wikileaks (/political) which is fine by me, screw the patronizing “We to need to keep secrets from you proles” (/political). I give it a “meh and a half”.

3 replies · active 89 weeks ago

Huttj509's avatar

Huttj509 · 90 weeks ago

See, I didn’t get the vibe that Rising Tide was SUPPOSED to be “evil.”

“People need to know what’s going on! I want to know what’s going on! Don’t hide reality from me, I mean us!”

“Hey, come with us, we could use your skills, you get to be on the front lines of what’s going on, cause that’s what you really want, and as a bonus, you get to see some situations where it’s probably better the public DOESN’T know about it, and thus stop spreading secrets willy nilly.”

Yes, SHIELD could probably back off hiding things behind the curtain, but indiscriminate information spewing can do more harm, especially since it gives info not just to the public, but to the actual bad guys.

“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.”

Huttj509's avatar

Huttj509 · 90 weeks ago

To clarify, I don’t think RT’s just Skye. I think she’s a prominent/key piece in their infogathering, but I don’t think she’s supposed to be the entirety.
isn’t `rising tide’ supposed to be a wikileaks/anonymous analogue? They think they’re the good guys themselves, but not everyone (and especially not those in government) agree? Good on em for trying to have some kind of depth to motivations. One thing i love about the MU is the various organisations that variously work with or against each other depending on whatevs.
Candace's avatar

Candace · 90 weeks ago

I was not super-impressed with the S.H.I. E.L.D. pilot, either. I agree that it was derivative and lacked cohesion. Also, I wanted Skye to die so hard within about five minutes after she came on-screen. I’m disappointed she was still alive at the end of the episode and appears to be intended to become a regular character. I’m willing to give it a chance, though, because, Whedon.

I have actually enjoyed all the Iron Man movies, although I did like 3 better than 2.

The pilot got a resounding “eh” from me. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t the SUPERFANTASTICMEGAAWESOMEBETTERTHANSEXBESTSHOWEVAR! that every blog and magazine was hyping it to be.

I’m still going to give it a chance because even Buffy took a few episodes to get into the groove.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

Season 1 of Buffy is all pretty rough. It’s good that it’s short. Season 2 picks up the pace and quality pretty quick.
the captain's avatar

the captain · 90 weeks ago

How can you ignore Ming-Na Wen? I felt like there was a lot of “meh” in the episode as a whole, but Ming-Na’s bored attitude and hinted-at troubled history (with authority?) is what I want to see more of. Coulson is good at doing more Coulson. I think Skye looks like a combination of Aubrey Plaza and Summer Glau, and gives off a similar air. I hope Book has a lot of tiny cameos and that Ming-Na gets to beat up a lot of people. Actually, I would watch this show just for the latter. I don’t know; there’s something about getting so used to someone’s voice in your childhood that sticks with you.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

I actually did forget about Ming-Na because she had so little to do/say in the first episode. I loved her in SG:U. I really hope they do a lot with her character in this.
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

The show got a solid “meh” from me but we’ll see if it finds its groove and if that’s a groove I like. Most of my comments echo stuff above me, but I will say that I liked the “throw every origin story in a blender and see what happens” nature of Scorpion. It feels like what real people would do if they had access to that stuff (which, since it’s the Marvel universe, probably involves throwing a rock and hitting a secret archive).

I didn’t like the “working for some other shadowy organization” thing though, if you have the organization to be a big secret force then just handing everything you’ve got to a doctor to inject into people seems… a bit blase. If one person gets ahold of that stuff I can see them being crazy with it but if it’s doled out it doesn’t work for me. If they make these guys into a black market “we’ll sell anything to anyone who has the money and if they blow their hands off with it it’s not our problem” instead of the currently-implied sinister agenda I’ll like them a lot more.

4 replies · active 90 weeks ago

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

To work on my comment a bit more, Scorpion feels like someone playing with a new toy. Since the doc got it from someone else if it was a “we want you to weaponize this” it feels irresponsible to put all the tech they obtained in one place and not develop them independently.

When I heard about this show I expected a bit of a monster-of-the-week. Investigating a cluster of cases of gamma radiation sickness in one, some Asgardian artifact (not world-ending but “how did it get here and are there more”) turning up in a pawn shop in another episode. Dealing with some new supers who have no idea how it happened (“Have you always been able to teleport?” “I dunno, I never tried before last week.”), that kind of thing. For that kind of approach to things though, Scorpion feels like something to end a season with rather than begin it.

Scorpion? I thought it was called Centipede
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 90 weeks ago

Blargh, you’re right. I should just start calling it a different bug every time on purpose, I’ll feel less silly when someone points it out.
The Biggest Unanswered Questions from the Agents of SHIELD Pilot
http://io9.com/the-biggest-unanswered-questions-f…

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

Huttj509's avatar

Huttj509 · 90 weeks ago

Why does a superhacker have to steal someone’s driver’s license? She didn’t. She wasn’t expecting to be rebuffed, and when she was, the license was easy.

“Well, I could go hack the DMV to find his address, but that would take 5 minutes, including the walk to the van. Why bother?”

Neil's avatar

Neil · 90 weeks ago

So I take it your forgetting/ignoring Melinda May sums up your opinion of that character.

I’m hoping the problems here are the teething troubles you get in a lot of pilots. As long as it’s better than Enounter At Farpoint there’s always hope.

I pretty much agree with your assessment.

I thought the recycled explodey super powers theme was weak (although I liked the visual of how it was implemented, on his arm). I was really put off by the brainy pair. They just seem super cliched. I didn’t get the plot line with the super hacker woman who lives in a van, either. She’s… against them? But she’s… working for them now? Maybe? Will she betray them? Will she not? Why wouldn’t she? I just… I don’t know?

My husband’s been looking forward to this show for a long time, and set it up to DVR. He came home from work and even though it was late and he was tired (He regularly works 12+ hour shifts and gets up at 5am to get to work on time) he still wanted to watch it instead of saving it for the weekend. He wound up playing Candy Crush and only half paying attention to the show.

A friend of mine pointed out that Whedon pilots are always pretty weak and the shows don’t usually hit their stride for a few episodes which seems incredibly wrong to me. I mean, the pilot is supposed to capture attention. How can you make ti weak? What’s wrong with you as a writer/director/etc if you consistently pump out weak pilots? IDK.

I wasn’t impressed by this show, will check in a few times more, but will probably end up just watching with my husband while actually reading a book or playing computer games.

Which is frustrating. I’m in general a fan of Whedon and am an old school Marvel fan and have liked the recent movies quite a bit. And then this? I wasn’t expecting The Best Show In The History Of Ever, but if the highest note for me is Ron Glass something is wrong. I mean, Ron Glass is great and all, I’m not trying to diss him and his career, but still.

1 reply · active 90 weeks ago

“He wound up playing Candy Crush and only half paying attention to the show. ”

This is also my wife’s measure of quality.

Did they make the level 7 thing clear? I need to watch it again.
I remember all of that, but “Level 7″ just seems like a high level of clearance to me. Not an elite task force.
mist's avatar

mist · 78 weeks ago

I think it “goes to 11″
Tom's avatar

Tom · 90 weeks ago

I’m very surprised by the comments here. My wife and I have been Joss Whedon fans for a long time (since Buffy started, back when we were a lot younger) and were big fans of the Marvel films. We both really liked the pilot and are excited to see where it goes from here. I actually really liked Agent Ward, it made sense to me that Coulson would recuit Skye, and I totally called the method by which Coulson got Skye to trust them enough to at least help them find the “hooded hero.”

In short, we both thought it was solid, and I really don’t understand all of the criticism.

“Mostly I suspect that without someone like Tim Minear, Joss Whedon just doesn’t get much of an edge.”

You might have the answer right there. Very interesting.

Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 89 weeks ago

All of the above still holds for me, but today’s episode? THIS is what I wanted. Yay.

2 replies · active 89 weeks ago

Id agree it’s an improvement. Still the writing and characterizations are very flat. Everyone seems to say everything they are thinking.
Bruceski's avatar

Bruceski · 89 weeks ago

Yeah. It felt like it was intended to be the premiere episode, they kept restating things from last time.
I literally started jumping up and down in my chair when I saw Shepard Book appear. And Coulson’s first lines had me laughing out loud. I really liked the Pilot, and I can see much greater things happening.
Hotsauce's avatar

Hotsauce · 89 weeks ago

I really enjoyed it. I felt like they had to work hard to establish SHIELD as essentially a global NSA, during a time when the NSA is really looking like the bad guys. Hence the trope reversal with the truth serum. “I know you think we’re the bad guys, and it’s really not unreasonable to think that, so here’s proof that we have nothing to hide about who we are.” I also don’t think they really established Rising Tide as the bad guys, and I don’t think they intended to. Just like SHIELD is “the NSA, if it were run by people you could actually trust”, Rising Tide is “Anonymous, with the hint that it’s being manipulated by people you shouldn’t trust.”
It seems to me that it’s Whedon’s return to a monster-of-the-week ensemble show, and I’m optimistic. Does nobody remember how extremely cheesy season 1 of Buffy was?
Mitt 's avatar

Mitt · 89 weeks ago

Generic Whedon show with predictable Whedon jokes. That schtick was cool and interesting when it was new on Buffy, but that was 20 years ago. Whedon’s act is just stale.
The acting was pretty bad too. That my be because of the bad writing. Ming Na Wen was the only one eve trying.
mist's avatar

mist · 78 weeks ago

Out of the new season I find I’m looking forward to the SHIELD stuff. It’s small enough to be friendly, the Whedon0-esque billion plot subline thing is confusing and will weaken the show, but make for a better story over all. Hoping he keeps away from the Whedon cliches (super girl, super tech expert) and concentrates on the world, the people, the story. I find the tech-twins a bit annoying, and strongly suspect one (or both) of them is going to make the “pull team together” sacrifice to be replaced by a single uber techy. I think they’re supposed to be kind young and hyper but they just come across as immature, and much of their tech stuff can just be “starttrekked” (buzzword and faked props) away. They’re interesting characters but very shallow.

1 reply · active 78 weeks ago

mist's avatar

mist · 78 weeks ago

Just to show I’m not just being a whiny dick – What I’d love to see connected to the SHIELD show is a Fitz&Simmons offical website/webinar connected to the show.

A lot of the geeky tech is cool and the pseudo babble works as a plot device, simply because exposition into what makes things tick would kill the story momentum – yet the geeks would love to poor through the designs and inventions and crazy ideas. Stuff that can be done online without disturbing the online flow of the show.

It could even be used as an open-source skunkworks platform for “Whedon-SHIELD” development. Writers could put up “real world” (ie story) devices and situ-reports, (just the tech side) and say “we need Agents to be able to scan in real time and transmit holographically” F&S & team, lets brainstorm some solutions. Then whatever fits the story best could be used on show…and to get your tech buzz without F&S having to sound hollow with pseudo-babble, they have an following coming up with good sounding ideas.

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