Oct 09 2013
Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD was far and away the most anticipated new show of the fall, but now entering its third week, my enthusiasm for it has waned with each passing installment.
The pilot was solid, and Joss Whedon’s heavy hand could be felt in the tone and the script. But as a I feared, as a mere “creator and producer” his influence has now faded, and Agents of SHIELD feels more and more generic as time goes on.
SHIELD’s main problem is that it’s based itself in the Marvel universe, but in such a restricted way, it’s barely allowed to use any of it. Marvel references peppered the pilot, and Nick Fury stopped by for a cameo in the second episode, but this week? There was literally one line. When Agent Coulson is questioned about going back into combat, he smirks and replies “I saw plenty of action with the Avengers!”
“I was stabbed a god, do what I say.”
And that’s it. Because SHIELD is trapped in the Marvel movie universe where all the “good” characters and plotlines are reserved for future films, they have almost nothing to work with. So far, all three episodes have been about a singular piece of advanced technology that the newly assembled SHIELD strike team must dispose of. In the pilot, it was a device that gave regular folks powers at the cost of making them evenutally explode. Next, it was a Red Skull era weapon that shot lasers. Last night, it was a device that used an element literally called “gravitonium” that played around with what else, gravity.
Do you see where this is going? I don’t, and that’s the problem. I guess I should have expected that Agents of SHIELD would be somewhat procedural, but “alien tech of the week” is a lot lamer than even “monster of the week,” and the problem is that there isn’t even so much of hint of a thread that has connected any of these episodes so far. There’s no big threat, no overarching plotline. Hacker Skye is part of the “Rising Tide,” which seems to be Wikileaks with even less cultural relevancy. Agent Coulson is probably a clone or a robot after his death in The Avengers, and we’re just waiting to find out which. And…that’s all.
The show now presents itself as a dumbed down version of Fringe, a show I didn’t much care for because I thought even it was too procedural by my taste, but SHIELD makes it look like The Sopranos in that department. I understand the desire to make a family friendly superhero show, but…there aren’t any superheroes! This is like making a show about the Daily Planet, but Superman and all of his enemies are never allowed to show up. Hell, even Clark Kent isn’t in it.
But hey, plenty of pretty people.
DC has made this idea work by freeing their shows of their movie universes. It’s why Smallville lasted ten seasons and Arrow is a hit. They featured heroes, not the puny humans who maybe assisted them at some point or another. Even if SHIELD boasts a bunch of ass-kickers, it’s all very generic, and the scripts get more and more cheesy with each new episode, with an absurd soundtrack to match.
The pilot felt like a Joss Whedon show, but these new episodes don’t, even if it’s his family and friends running the show. The Avengers was great because it had blockbuster action, A-list actors playing beloved heroes, and the brilliant writing and direction of Whedon. Agents of SHIELD has literally only one carryover, Agent Coulson, and he’s the only good part of the show. Everything else that made audiences love The Avengers is missing, and I can’t see how this show is conceptually sustainable unless they get some creative freedom to use more of the Marvel universe.
Am I being too harsh? What do you think about Agents of SHIELD so far?
More Unreal Posts