Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - "Pilot"

Phase 2 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially began this past summer with the release of Iron Man 3 and will continue when Thor: The Dark World is released in November. In the meantime the suits at Disney saw fit to create something to satiate the geeky cravings of the fans on a weekly basis – the television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Taking place after the events of The Avengers and Iron Man 3, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. begins with a superhuman hero rescuing a woman from an office explosion. A group of SHIELD field agents, led by the not-so-dead Coulson (Clark Gregg), are assigned to take this person into custody before an opposing group can use him toward a destructive goal.
I’ve been looking forward to this series since it was announced. I am a HUGE Joss Whedon fan and have loved all his shows. Well, not Dollhouse. That was a gigantic missed opportunity. But I digress. He not only made some of the best hours of television I’ve ever seen, but he knocked The Avengers out of the park and made it one of the highest grossing movies of all time. Now that he’s in charge of all the future Marvel projects, both theatrical and television based, the fact that this show is his baby and not based on any comic book source material means that he’s now able to play by his own rules and do whatever he wants.

This “Pilot” episode is a great jumping off point for a series. Starting with a literal bang and then setting up the new characters and the return of the previously deceased Coulson, with a welcome cameo by Cobie Smulders as Agent Hill, this premiere episode moves quickly and entertainingly to get the audience up to speed as to what we can expect from this show over its first season (if someone at ABC doesn’t get trigger happy and cancel it prematurely like Firefly). We also are introduced to a rival group that appears to be creating superheroes for mysterious purposes in what I can only assume will be the season long villain arc.
In the character department the leads are a mixed bag. Clark Gregg is fantastic as always as fan favorite Coulson. He’s charming and shows off his geeky side occasionally. The explanation as to why he’s still alive is what I predicted it to be, but there seems to be something else going on that, hush hush, no one is talking about. I’m thinking he’s a clone. Whatevs. Anyway, Ming-Na Wen (Street Fighter, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Stargate: Universe) doesn’t get much to do as the “Driver” of the group, Melinda May, regardless of her geeky pedigree. Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge are annoying as the fidgety autistic tech duo of Fitz and Simmons. Chloe Bennet as Skye is a little too hot and high maintenance for some hacker activist that lives in her conversion van stealing coffee shop wifi. Brett Dalton’s Ward is very one dimensional as the hard ass soldier of the group. I don’t necessarily like anyone in the group outside of Coulson, but I have a feeling this motley crew will grow on me.

I really liked Angel vet J. August Richards as the focal point of the episode, the down on his luck factory worker who has acquired superpowers, Mike Peterson. He gives an honest and heartfelt performance that really made me wish he was a part of the main cast. Seeing Ron Glass as a SHIELD agent put a smile on my face too. I hope he gets more screentime in future episodes.
Whedon’s signature sense of humor is in full force and I realized as I watched this episode just how much I’ve missed getting my fix every week. A lot of ideas are presented organically and seem to fit into the more “human” angle of the show. I was hoping for more info as to how the world has been dealing with the news that there are superheroes like Thor and The Hulk as well as aliens out to wipe us out. We get a few lines at the beginning on this topic, but it’s glossed over for the most part. I did appreciate seeing plot devices from Iron Man 3 pop up (EXTREMIS!) and the linking up of the other films. The show is well written, that’s for damn sure. I just wanted more from this pilot episode.

Everything looks slick and the production is top notch. For a first episode this has the typical issues that most new shows suffer from. I hope it is able to move past them and really blow the audience’s collective minds with all the potential I see brewing under the surface. So far this is a fun show that has a sort of a comic booky version of The X-Files that hasn’t settled into its groove yet, but I like what I’ve seen so far.

3.5 out of 5

No comments:

Post a Comment