TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: “Pilot”

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has now expanded into television with the debut of the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. pilot episode written by director Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen. Following the events of The Avengers (also written and directed by Joss) and because of them, the series opens with S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) organizing an elite team down to a manageable size of good-looking agents for no other reason than to make it easier to keep track of on a television series because there’s no other reason S.H.I.E.L.D. wouldn’t use all of its resources in every instance needed.

Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), last seen killed by Loki, is the team leader. Nick Fury used his death to motivate the Avengers into action, but Coulson reveals doctors were able to bring him back from the brink of death. He had been recuperating on Tahiti before this new assignment. However, the audience learns Coulson doesn’t know the truth, which is an interesting idea to run through the series. In the comics, S.H.I.E.L.D. has a long histoy of using Life-Model Decoys, “a robot that takes the form of a living person.” but there may well be another reason he was able to return.

The first mission finds the team going after Michael Peterson (J. August Richards), a man who has recently developed superpowers as a result of participating in experiments with the serum Extremis. That’ll sound familiar to people who saw Iron Man 3, which was released on Blu-ray/DVD the same day the pilot aired. Unfortunately, Peterson’s new powers come at a high cost because his body can’t handle the Extremis and becomes unstable, turning him into a living bomb.

After seeing it at the San Diego Comic-Con, Steve Geise wrote “The episode contains the Whedonesque humor we’ve come to expect in his productions, with funny exchanges about the definition of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a sly homage to a Marvel comic book among others, but even with its decent cast, I’m left wondering how sustainable it is in the long term. I got a bad sense of Heroes déjà vu, and felt like a reveal at the end was a bit of a ridiculous jump-the-shark moment, but I’ll give it a few episodes to find its footing.”

I agree with him. The writing had good humor and there were Easter eggs for Marvel Comics fan, but there wasn’t enough to make the agents very memorable. I watched the episode more than once and couldn’t name the entire gang. More time needs to be spent developing them into interesting characters I want to spend time with. Also, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has a look and feel that seems better suited for a cable channel or the CW. I am mildly interested in the next episode, expect to check it out, but wouldn’t be phased if ABC cancelled it.

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Gordon S. Miller

Publisher/Editor-in-Chief of this site. "I'm making this up as I go" - Indiana Jones

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