Agents of SHIELD Review
What Did Bless Think?
Let me start by saying, “It’s a pilot.” And as such, it’s not going to be the greatest piece of television history. The job of the pilot is to provide a taste-test of what the show will be like, and the rest of the season will prove whether or not the concept can or will be compelling. So, if like me the pilot did not floor you, it’s okay. You can still love Marvel and this show.
Having seen the full pilot at Comic Con in San Diego a couple months back, last night was an opportunity to see if it played well at home surrounded by fewer fans; four of us to be exact. And I can honestly say that I was entertained. The story wasn’t especially powerful or explosive. The locations felt painted on, rather than dynamic. All the New York scenes were, after all, filmed on a studio back lot. And maybe, in the Marvel universe, there is no need for pretense, because it is a fictional world. However, they’ve been good, in the past, at getting the details to feel intrinsically authentic. And this was a missing layer.
That being said, what I did find compelling was the charisma of Clark Gregg in his return as Agent Coulson. He wears this character like a finely tailored Italian suit. The only time I felt him force a line was when he got angry at the techs, Fitz and Simmons. But, all in all, he’s a wonderful addition to my weekly escape through the looking glass that is prime-time television.
Speaking of Fitz and Simmons, they were delightful. They have synchronicity and rivalry brimming from the start!
I also felt Ming Na Wen brings a deeper sense of credibility to the show. She’s a great choice to play Melinda May. There’s something compelling about someone who’s capable of not saying much and holding their weight in a scene.
But I think it bears noting that Joss Whedon, the architect of Marvel’s cinematic universe, penned the pilot. This may not be the case for the rest of the season, as Joss is somewhat busy these days crafting the rest of the universe. Here’s why that’s unfortunate: Joss has become the master of writing scenes that work easily without having to layer in a lot of exposition, which tends to make scenes heavy. Think about that scene in The DaVinci Code, where Ian McKellan’s character, Sir Leigh Teabing tells Robert Langdon all about the secret history of Christ’s line of succession. It feels like a book-on-film. Slow, heavy, and exhausting. And now think back to last night’s episode and none of those adjectives can be used. It clipped along on the surface of this universe that is rapidly expanding.
And before you harangue me for enjoying shallow work, let me say that this pilot needed to wade you in rather than drop you in the deep end. The Marvel universe is vast and complicated. This was a means to get your feet wet without drowning you in information. So, they did an “Assemble the Team” pilot. It focused on the people you will be following week to week, rather than on exploding the Internet by sending nerds and newbs alike to their wiki page.
The best part of this pilot was the trailer for the rest of the season at the end, where you got another taste of what’s coming down the pipeline. I really believe this will be a fun, exciting season on the small screen.
Marvel will use this show as a means for bringing more of its universe to the surface in a way that doesn’t interfere with the silver screen romance that we’re all invested in. And to that end, there will be lots of formulaic introductions of villains and heroes that demand you break out your Marvel encyclopedia and your best bottle of booze. Let the drinking games begin!
What did Bryan Think?
I loved this episode! Was it a perfect episode? Of course not and it of course had problems. However, there was so much potential and promise in that hour that in my state of fan boy freak out I didn’t notice them while watching!
If you missed the show last night (Shame on you), then the best way to describe it in my mind would be Law and Order: Criminal Intent. We saw the big problem of the episode upfront and now the team has to figure out how to deal with it. Then take all of that and put it against the back drop of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course since this was the pilot episode much of the time they had was devoted to getting the band together. While most of that was quick and not too heavy on exposition, it did take away from the story about the “Unregistered Gifted”. Yes that is what they called him and that name itself seems weighted with possibility despite sounding very ridiculous.
The pilot sets up a few mysteries that will be revealed as we get to know more about the team and the world that they now have to live in. The biggest being Agent Coulson, played by the utterly charming Clark Gregg. (I have a man crush on him and it is a big one) How is Coulson still “alive” and what really happened after the Battle of New York? However, we also get a secondary mystery surrounding his second in command Melinda May. Melinda May is portrayed by the oh so badass Ming-Na Wen, and let me tell you she is awesome. Ming does an incredible job of hinting and showing signs about how awesome Melinda really is, I can not wait for more of her! The rest of the team is a lot more straight forward, the James Bond like Brett Dalton and his gadget crew Fitz and Simmons. Ultimately this show will succeed or fail on the dynamics of the group, and so far I think they have the right mix.
The episode was very much a surface episode with not much depth, but that is fine, It was just the Pilot. One thing that may get old quick if they try to do it too much is the Marvel fan-service. This was the first episode so it totally makes sense to throw in all the quick lines and references to the comics. However, this could get overplayed very quick. We all know this is the Marvel universe, the writers don’t need to keep reminding us. I am not saying don’t do those things, but there is a fine balance and those lines can often get in the way of the shows pacing and story telling.
So do I recommend this show, whole heartily yes. It suffered from some problems, but these are problems that every pilot has. This show will get better every week and will really fill in the spaces between the movies.
Did you see it? Let us know what you thought and if you will be tuning in next week with us.