‘You’ve seen the movies, now watch the TV show’ seems to be the premise behind Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., a superhero series with a difference…the difference being that the main characters wear the kind of corporate office wear that wouldn’t look out-of-place in the Apprentice boardroom, rather than the standard yellow-spandex-and-cape combo.
The premise is quite simple. Fictional espionage and law-enforcement agency S.H.I.E.L.D. are creating a specialised team to handle strange cases lead by newly resurrected Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg). What these strange cases involve we don’t know, we just know they’re strange – a carte blanche for the writers to do whatever they like, basically.
The characters have each been drawn from a great big bag of team member clichés. First we have Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) our lone hard man who doesn’t play well with others…although of course by the end of the series he’ll undoubtedly have more friends than Justin Bieber on Twitter.
The second recruit is Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), a retired field agent who now does desk work because of something happened on her last mission. What are the odds that it is because her old partner died in arms one day away from retirement? Then we have our resident geeks, a brother and sister style pairing of Fitz and Simmons who share the genetic trait of being highly slapable. Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) is a geekier version Scotty from Star Trek with a more accurate accent. Meanwhile Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) sounds like a cut price Keira Knightly who is highly excitable about goo.
However, one member of the team was written before the writers remembered about their great big bag of clichés: Skye, a fun, intelligent hacker who can handle the Whedonesque dialogue that almost all the other characters struggle with. So many times the dialogue feels overly knowing or written for the trailers – see the return of Coulson at the start of the episode for the best example.
With such clichéd team members the villain of the week (J. August Richards’ Mike Peterson) is far more interesting than our heroes. That is until the script forgets that fact and makes him a generic evil bloke prone to spouting lengthy monologues about origin stories.
So with all these criticisms why should you watch? Potential, the show has so much potential. When Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. gets it right, it so good that you forgive all the issues. I would happy watch hours and hours of Coulson and Ward interrogating Skye. Let’s hope there is more of this over the rest of the series.
Marvel Movie Reference of the Week: As this was the pilot episode there were more Marvel movie references that you could shake a Chitauri horde at. However, this week’s reference is a twist on the famous Spiderman quote “With great power comes…a ton of weird crap that you are not prepared to deal with!” said by Skye to Peterson.
Friend of Joss Whedon alert of the Week: The big one this week has the already been mentioned as J. August Richards is of course from Angel. However, there was a second with the two-minute cameo of Ron “Sheperd Book” Glass as a S.H.I.E.L.D. doctor being mysterious – which isn’t a surprise really.