There weren’t a lot of television shows to get excited about
this fall season. One of the only ones that everyone could agree they wanted to
check out was Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – a spinoff of their popular
super hero movies.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
looked like a slam dunk on paper. It
was following last summer’s blockbuster – even utilizing (and
ultimately resurrecting – kind of) the popular Phil Coulson character.
It was being helmed by the ubertalented Joss Whedon – a man
that has created two of my top five favorite television shows ever (Buffy the
Vampire Slayer and Angel, respectively).
Sure, other than Clark Gregg and Ming-Na Wen, the cast was
pretty much unknown, but who knew the names Sarah Michelle Gellar, Alyson
Hannigan and David Boreanaz before Whedon got his hands on them?
So, when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. landed – everyone expected
When the show debuted, it was the biggest drama premiere in
four years. This past week? It barely edged out NBC’s Biggest Loser – which is
like in its 50th season.
So, what went wrong?
5. More action-oriented plots need to be implemented: Most
of the comments I’ve seen about this show say that it’s kind of like The
Avengers but there’s not as much action and there’s a little too much kitsch. I
would have to agree with that. I understand the budget for a television show is
far more limited than a big budget movie, but there’s got to be a happy medium.
I don’t think it’s too far-fetched to think that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could
go the Alias route. You don’t need a lot of money for practical effects and
realistic special effects sequences that won’t break the bank. Instead of
wasting money on flying cars (totally ridiculous), invest in the foundation of
the show and the center of the mythology and let the show grow from there.
4. Too many gimmicks:
I understand the inclination to try
and draw on the success of The Avengers
, The Avengers
, no really.” The Avengers
because it was witty, funny and visually stimulating. You can’t throw in cheeky
cameos to give fans a thrill when you don’t have the basics for those cameos to
build off of firmly in place.
but bringing in Samuel L. Jackson and
Cobie Smulders for cameos didn’t scream “smart nod to the fans” as much as it did “see, we’re just like
3. You can’t make both comic book fans and general
television fans happy: The show runners seem to be trying to straddle a line
here. They want to appeal to a broad audience and not tick off their core geek
audience of comic book readers. That’s kind of like trying to mix oil and
vinegar. It may stick for a second – but it won’t last for the long haul. You
have to pick an audience and make them happy. You can’t do both. A general
television audience gets lost in too much mythology. That’s why genre shows
usually have a smaller – but fiercely loyal – following. In depth plot arcs are
not for everybody. ABC needs to stop trying to draw in people that will sit
there and watch a procedural one hour and then flip over to a genre show the next. In
general, that just doesn’t work. If Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to be a
genre show, let it be a genre show. If it’s going to go more mainstream, then
do it. This straddling the line stuff isn’t going to help it last.
2. The cast is unbelievably bland: Whedon is known for
casting along a broad spectrum. With the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are all generically interchangeable. They’re also
boring, vanilla and pretty. They’re really, really pretty. That doesn’t mean
they’re entertaining to watch. All that means is that they’re really pretty.
Just because you’re pretty, that doesn’t mean you can act (just ask Keanu Reeves). The only two actors
with any range on this show – again – are Clark and Wen. You could stick any
one of the other actors in any one of the four remaining roles – it doesn’t matter if
it’s written for a male or female – and you would get the same bland reaction
shots and line recitation. That’s just not good television. You need to kill
off most of this cast and start over.
exceptions of Clark and Wen, the rest
1. There’s no heart: Say what you want about Buffy and Angel
– and if you’ve never seen them, you can’t understand their true greatness –
but both of those shows had a lot of heart. Whedon created them to be more than
genre shows, more than teenage shows. These were about extraordinary
characters doing extraordinary things. They were also surrounded by ordinary
characters that helped them do the extraordinary. Sound a little like Agents of
S.H.I.E.L.D.? That’s where the similarities end. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not
only vapid but empty. The only character
you care about is Coulson – and he’s not enough to anchor the show. In the
Buffy universe, you couldn’t just care about Buffy. You had to care about
Willow, Xander, Oz, Giles and Cordelia, too. A television show cannot survive
on the shoulders of just one character.
What do you think? Where did Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fall