Thursday, October 24, 2013

Five reasons why Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is failing



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.
The Avengers

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 greatness.

Whoops.

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 succeeded 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 of the

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 short?

2 Comments:

Blogger krazyrabbit said...

Agree with your assessment and would add that excellent writing teams from Buffy, Angel and Firefly are sorely missing from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The dialog between the characters is flat, the humor is not sharp, and the spark is just not there. Hate to say it, but as the Wishverse Willow would say, "Bored now."

October 25, 2013 at 8:58 PM 
Blogger William Cousert said...

The big problem - people expect a new Avengers quality episode every week. It can't be done. the show will never live up to peoples expectations no matter what they do.

October 29, 2013 at 7:20 PM 

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