Hello folks! Fenrir here with an exciting review for just one of the highly anticipated shows for the fall season. Seriously, people have been waiting for Agents of SHIELD for a long time now, and I think the enthusiastic 12.2 million viewers was enough of a (Hulk) “smash” hit for ABC execs. And with Joss Whedon on board as one of the show’s creators, and yes, the long-anticipated return of fan-favorite Phil Coulson, played by the talented Clark Gregg, there’s little wonder as to how the hype-bus got a-rolling to bring in views.
But is Agents of SHIELD worth it, or is it mere corporate pandering cashing in on the latest interest in superheroes?
Running on a sort of new-monster-of-the-week style, Agents of SHIELD follows SHIELD agent Phil Coulson and his ragtag band of SHIELD misfits as they solve new cases and learn to cooperate and act as well, a team. (HEY, doesn’t that sound familiar?) His team is notably made up of people who lack super-human powers but are specialized in some unique skill or other. Besides the lovable and familiar Phil Coulson, we have a stock cast of familiar roles: Grant Ward, an antisocial but competent agent with a brooding “lone wolf” attitude suddenly thrust into a team, the mysterious Melinda May (also notably, the only person of color), who we can only assume is an agent of impressive skill but is only comfortable being the team’s designated driver, Leo Fitz and Jenna Simmons, a quirky pair of scientists that specialize in tech and biology and who come equipped with a heavy artillery of pop-culture references, and finally the mysterious “Skye”, a hacker-type who is obsessed with superheroes.
They’re not the Avengers, for sure, but they are charming and quirky in a very Whedon-like way. And their distinct roles and archetypes are quite fitting for this first pilot that thrusts this ragtag team together: a mysterious new superhero sighting catches the attention of our intrepid heroes who must blunder and work together to save the day.
Really, it’s not terribly complicated or new; if anything, this is all sounding like the “standard” of a superhero show, with a very safe cast choice that fills distinct archetype roles and a monster-of-the-week set-up allowing new cases each episode. Casual viewers who may tune in or stumble upon this show can pick up what’s going on. It’s almost like that CSI/Marvel fanfic you’ve always dreamed of.
But does that make a good show?
Honestly, I unabashedly loved my first viewing of Agents of SHIELD, and based on my first impressions, it’s a pretty fun show. Okay, the plot was kind of expected–down-on-his-luck errant superhero attracts the attention of SHIELD and acts as the perfect “first case” for a volatile crew of unique people that may, or may not, actually work well together. It’s a safe start with an easy-to-follow plot-line, with twists and turns lining up rather easily. And you know, as expected and wanted, the team does pull through in the end, signaling the start of more team adventures–yay! There’s even a clever reference thrown about here and there, and yes, the show is a cheese-fest. Pop-culture on top of your pop-culture, some pun filled moments, and plenty of light-hearted camp? Yeah, you have to walk in here knowing you’re not getting the dark, gritty reboot experience.
Whedon also has a lot of fun when it comes to pulling back on the drama and bringing in humor to balance out the (arguably) melodramatic pilot. Of course, there are some who are offended by the “cheese” and those who more or less expected Agents of SHIELD to be a lame spin-off.
But therein lies the beauty of it–this isn’t a major Hollywood production, and with Whedon manning the reigns, you can bet that he’ll put a cap on the drama in favor of something that is playful and fun to watch.
So what would I ultimately say about Agents of SHIELD? Well, it’s a fun show that won’t open the doors to enlightenment, but it’s got the capacity and the beginnings to be a bright spot of camp during the work week. If anything, just give it a shot, see if the Whedon characters are pulling you in, and if you don’t feel it, don’t sweat it!
Who knows, maybe down the line Agents of SHIELD may surprise us all with something vividly profound about the human experience; but for now, it’s definitely going to make my Tuesdays a little brighter with something lovingly made and suitably light-hearted.
Remember kids–we’re not watching this for anything terribly complex and earth-shattering,; we’re here for fun! (Although if Whedon proves me wrong, I will be quietly eating my words, but we’ll have to wait for the season finale!)