Agents of SHIELD: “Pilot” Season 1 Episode 1 Review

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe made it’s leap to television this week with the premiere of Agents of SHIELD, a spy series set in the same universe as The Avengers.

But The Avengers was a big movie. So how can a TV series in the same universe work?

Well, if you’re Joss Whedon, you throw a bunch of references in the mix and give the characters some funny lines to say and hope it all works out. Within minutes we see Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), resurrected somehow after his death in The Avengers, and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) as they stand in front of computer screens showing Iron Man flying in the background. It’s sets up the world with a few smart connections without being overbearing.

Granted, anyone who isn’t a Marvel fan will have trouble following just about any line of dialogue.

The pilot is mostly concerned with getting the team together. There’s Ward (Brett Dalton), a black ops specialist; Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), a combat specialist and pilot; Fitz and Simmons (Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge, respectively), the “scientists” of the group; and Skye (Chloe Bennet), the unlikely new ally and the only one who can challenge Ward’s personality (the eventual romance is obvious).

The issues is that the characters all seem paired off into personality types: the two scientists (Fitz and Simmons), the two experts (Coulson and May), and the two young rebels (Ward and Skye). Obviously this is a pilot and there’s time for the series to grow its characters, but for now they seem lifted directly out of Firefly. They make a few jokes and can kick some ass/are incredibly smart or tech savvy. The interplay between them just feels so obvious and overdone.

But, with this show set in the world of The Avengers, it has potential to develop into something really cool. Potential being the key word.

It’s a shame that the pilot also dealt with a “superhero” that had obvious ways of getting us to feel for him (seriously, the cute kid was overdoing it). He had a nice little arc, but Coulson’s speech to him was hardly anything new for fans of the superhero.

But it’s very easy to see that once the characters get rounded out, and the writers have less “origin story” telling to do, that Agents of SHIELD could be something really cool. Until then, I have to be cautiously optimistic. Grade: B-

By Matt Dougherty


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