See what I did there? Ah forget it.
I want to love Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I really do. Like a lot of comic fans my age, too young to remember the heyday of The Incredible Hulk, my entire life has passed without a real live comic book show on primetime.
But I just can’t get into it. Here’s why:
Make Mine Marvel (Pretty Please)- For a show that touts itself as MARVEL’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the show has precious little Marvel in it.
No superheroes, one (lame) supervillain so far, and almost no references to the greater Marvel Universe set the show light years apart from the Avengers world it was supposed to have spun out of.
At New York Comic-Con, showrunner Jeph Loeb explained that the writers were purposefully avoiding turning the show into an “Easter egg farm,” and they were trying to carve their own place in the Marvel Universe.
That’s fair. But putting Marvel in the title denotes that the show is connected to stories and characters that go back 50 years. That’s the strength of the Marvel brand. Without that, you might as well call the show “The New Man From U.N.C.L.E.” or “NCIS With Laser Guns.”
The show doesn’t need to throw in the kitchen sink every week, but would it kill them to throw fans a bone every now and then?
Plots That Go Nowhere- We get it, Tahiti is a magical place. But why should we care?
The mystery of Phil Coulson’s death may have been able to carry two or three episodes, but we’re into episode seven without even a hint of resolution in sight. If a clue was dropped here and there, or we had some inking that Coulson’s Lazarus act held wider implications for his team or S.H.I.E.L.D., perhaps we could be assured this mystery was heading somewhere. But right now it’s just hanging out there, with no trail of crumbs or sense of stakes, and interest is wearing thin.
The less said about the secret of Skye’s mother, the better. She’s nothing even close to a sympathetic character, and if you couldn’t care less if she was dropped out of the plane without a chute, you certainly don’t give a rat’s behind who dropped her on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s doorstep. Although watching her mouse hover over a big, bold “REDACTED DOCUMENTS” folder (why not “OUR SHADY, SECRET STUFF” while you’re at it) did provide a little amusement.
And that leads right into:
Grating, Flat Characters– Were Skye and Ward really meant to be the glue holding this whole enterprise together? ‘Cause if so, we have a Level 8 problem.
Clark Gregg can do no wrong as Phil Coulson. We already knew that through years of Marvel Cinematic Universe familiarity. This show would be headed straight for the ABC graveyard alongside Work It without him, and for that we thank him.
I didn’t expect to like the FitzSimmons duo, but they’ve grown on me. Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Hentstridge may have the most chemistry among any pair on the show, and their characters have come a long way from their beginnings as irritating conveyors of Star Trek-esque technobabble.
Even Ming-Na Wen as pacifist ass-kicker Melinda May has her moments, though not nearly enough of them.
But Skye and Ward? Just no. How the two most annoying, one-dimensional characters on the show ended up getting the most screen time, I can’t figure out. It’s possible their characters will evolve into something closer to tolerable. But for now, Skye is defined exclusively by making the most illogical decision possible in any situation, and Ward lacks anything approaching a personality. And we’re supposed to wonder if they’ll get together? Nah.
Yes, an ensemble show needs time to find a comfortable place for its characters to settle. Watch an early episode of Supernatural or Buffy, and you see that there’s no kink that can’t be shaken loose in time. But this show is already so far behind, it’s tough to see how it can catch up to even the most modest expectations.
And if you want to complain about the grating, flat writer of this blog, have at it. I’m working on some kinks myself, and it would be nice to know someone at least read this.