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Marvel's Agents of SHIELD


Harsin
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Alan Sepinwall has a good article on what's gone wrong with the series so far:

http://www.hitfix.com/whats-alan-watching/review-whats-wrong-with-marvels-agents-of-shield

"SHIELD" has been designed as a superpowered tweak on a police procedural, much like the show it airs against on CBS, but "NCIS" works - ditto "Bones," "Castle," "The Mentalist" and every other successful show like it - because the audience invests in the investigators. Nine times out of every ten that I watch "NCIS," I could not care in the slightest about the case the team is working on, but I like Gibbs and enjoy seeing him interact with Di Nozzo, McGee and the rest. As I said, for all the early struggles of "Buffy," it had Buffy herself. "SHIELD" has worked exactly backwards of that: when the show has a decently-drawn guest character (J. August Richards as 99-percenter with super strength, Louis Ozawa Changchien as a fame-hungry magician who can shoot flames from his hands), it sort of works, and when the guest stars are completely forgettable, so is the episode.

I can see circumstances under which Coulson or May become more compelling in time, and I've even seen Joss Whedon work miracles on characters I initially wrote off (like amoral scientist Topher on "Dollhouse"), but if the next episode of "SHIELD" were to open with time-traveling supervillain Kang removing all six of these leads from existence and replacing them with new characters, I don't know that I'd genuinely miss any of them.

the second episode concluded with a cameo by Samuel L. Jackson as Coulson's boss, SHIELD director Nick Fury, who was very unhappy that Coulson and his team had done so much damage to the expensive flying command center Fury had given them. What was designed as an attempt to excite the fans and create more of a connection between the show and the Marvel films instead turned Nick Fury into the world's most famous example of the Disapproving Black Police Captain archetype, with Coulson just shrugging off all of Fury's yelling and screaming about the expense. In a couple of minutes, whatever mystique the Marvel films had built around Fury vanished.

In general, "SHIELD" has struggled to draw lines between itself and the movies, not only because Robert Downey Jr. isn't going to be appearing in a tag anytime soon, but because the show was designed to appeal to a broad audience - some of whom may not have seen "Avengers" or the other films (even though the box office success of those movies made them the definition of mainstream crossover hits) - and therefore the creative team is obviously worried about confusing new-to-Marvel viewers. There are oblique references to the Gamma radiation that created the Hulk, or the Extremis syrum that fueled the "Iron Man 3" villains, but that's usually as far as it goes. These are just boring spies who occasionally throw around a few keywords related to movies we all enjoyed much more.

Based on the shrinking audience, I would guess that they already lost most of the casual, Marvel-averse audience, and would be wise to play to their strengths. There are 50-plus years of comic book stories about SHIELD, and many, many more stories and characters from the Marvel universe. Don't resist going nerdy because you're trying to bring in a big tent audience that's already abandoned you; be about what you're actually about, to the best of your ability to do so. More often than not, works of entertainment designed to be accessible by everyone wind up exciting no one.

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I've only watched the first episode so far and I was pretty unimpressed. Is there evidence of a strong series arc or layering of a complex story to impel me to watch further, or is it monster of the week so far? And are there enough obscure comics references and in-jokes to make it worth Marvel fans' while? A nod to the Avengers movie doesn't really count.

None of that so far.

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There's supposed to be a sort of Thor 2 crossover in a couple of weeks. Something to do with the aftermath of the movie rather than within the movie. Thor himself won't be present, of course.

Without having seen the movie, and based on what we've seen of the series so far, I can pretty much guarantee the episode will be about Coulson's team being called in to sort out the aftermath of whatever damage has been done by the bad guy from the film. One of the annoying scientists will find an alien artifact which will activate and put the team in danger! Oh noes! And then the hacker girl will strip to her underwear again. Maybe a small cameo from the old scientist guy who is with Natalie Portman's character and ended up working for Loki in Avengers.

It's telling that 5 episodes in, I can't recall the names of any of the characters bar Coulson.

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We already settled that: Agent Boobs, Agent Bland, and The Rest. The Rest don't deserve individual names.

Agent Boobs, Agent Catalogue Model, Caulson, Agent Old Asian Lady Out Of Retirement For One Last Mission, two annoying scientists. Is that everyone?

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This show is enjoyable enough fluff and, to be fair, it's getting better week on week.

I think the hype has done for this a bit - if it wasn't supposed to be a TV event and had just been allowed to find its feet, as all shows have to in their first seasons, people would be giving it more latitude. It hasn't been helped by how the male action figure, Ward, is a total cliched Blandy McBland (a fact kinda referenced by the characters this week) played by a Hollywood pretty boy who's the epitome of bland (I'd almost prefer Sam Worthington), but the show is slick enough, there are some good one-liners and it's a very watchable hour. I wouldn't be at all surprised if it's pretty damn decent before the end of the season.

I have no idea what the whole "We'll be back in a moment" thing just before the end of every episode is about, but never mind!

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The way ad breaks work in the US, there's usually one inbetween the last scene of a show and the closing credits, tha "back in a moment" thing with a small scene before the credits is to stop people instantly switching over the second the ad break hits. NCIS:LA does something similar with a "Stay tuned for scenes from our next episode." teaser.

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Its getting better at least, however the lack of a central lead is making it suffer. I keep thinking they should have kept J August Richards in it, as their B list, hobo superhero. If you had him instead of Ward (who let's face it could have all his scenes/purpose in the show replaced by Maggie Chung - how cool would that be have a 50 year old woman being the sole kick ass jump out of a plane character!?) Then you could generate some tension between him and coulson, the 99%er and the government G man doing his best. Ward is just mister "yessir".

Or a younger better looking Luke Cage instead of Ward. That way you could also generate a bit of chemistry with Skye. Having a bit more superhero in it would make it buffy/angel mark 2 but given we are watching a TV show by Marvel that's what I want.

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(who let's face it could have all his scenes/purpose in the show replaced by Maggie Chung - how cool would that be have a 50 year old woman being the sole kick ass jump out of a plane character!?)

Considering that Ming-Na Wen is literally the same age as Maggie Chung and also does quite a bit of ass-kicking, I'd say they've already achieved your dream.

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Last night's wasn't good, plus the bad guy device was nicked from Arthur C Clarke's The Trigger (which this episode has made me want to read again). There was character development, but the dreadful plot you have to mentally skip past was much longer than last week's episode. Is this what it's turning into? Utterly forgettable hijinks, mixed with slow character stories?

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