It turns out that I didn't like the show that I had most been looking forward to seeing from the new 2013-2014 television season: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. At least not as much as I was expecting to.
Now, don't get me wrong... there are elements I liked quite a lot...
- Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson. No explanation needed. Even when the character is going over the top, it's hard not to like him. And then there's his character's "back from the dead" mystery...
- Marvel Universe Shout-Outs. The show is tossing around everything from Maria Hill to Extremis to Super-Soldier Serum to Chitauri tech! S.H.I.E.L.D. is part of something bigger and an extension of what's come before in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This is essential to the foundation of the show, and helps make it feel bigger than it is.
- Clever Bits. There are numerous little "Whedon Touches" that kept me watching. I loved how Skye escaped at the train station. She's smart and can think on her feet. I love Agent Melinda May's reaction shot to just about everything. Agent Ward's opening mission was exactly what I wanted to show to be. If only it would have lasted.
But... and here's the hard part... that wasn't enough. I actually fell asleep half-way through the show. I had to rewind it when I woke up so I could find out what happened. And a lot of the reason for that can be summed up thusly...
- Drama Overdrive. The cool thing about The Avengers and all the other Marvel films is that they have dramatic moments without getting bogged down in absurd levels of actual drama... just like a good comic book should. S.H.I.E.L.D. is not so lucky. The drama is almost unbearable at times, and never seems to stop. Occasionally they break it up with a joke or two, but it just wasn't fun.
- Fitz and Simmons. Holy shit. How many fucking times are we going to be subjected to the geeky/awkward scientist bullshit stereotype? At least Whedon is consistent... this follows the fucking inane and stupid "Topher Brink" scientist geek character from the epic disaster known as Dollhouse. And just like "Topher," every fucking scene with "Fitz and Simmons" ruins the show for me. Here's hoping they die some horrible death or get turned into super-villains or something. Whatever it takes to get them off the show and replaced by character(s) that aren't brilliant neurotic morons.
- Cheap Special Effects. I realize that a television show isn't going to get a huge budget like a movie. But the writers should realize this too. I'd rather have a few awesome effects that contribute to the story instead of lots of cheesy effects that distract from the story. For example... the final effects featuring Lola, Agent Coulson's Flying Car, were just shit. So why waste the money? Take the budget you spent for that completely unnecessary ending and put it into servicing the story by beefing up the Extremis-powered effects, which was the whole point of the plot. Anything less is madness.
The good news is that the previews for upcoming episodes look like they're going to be more focused and interesting than what we got tonight. If they can just work on not making every moment be so life-and-death overly-dramatic... tone down the idiocy of Fitz and Simmons... shift towards a bit more action... and take a more balanced approach to the effects budget... the show has a chance with me.
Otherwise this is just going to be a bad retread of Heroes, and something that I won't miss when it's inevitably canceled for boring the shit out of the audience.