ABC Playing it safe with their new Marvel Comics’ branded drama.
Marvel’s movie machine has been in full swing over the past few summers, and few shows have generated as much buzz as Avengers bi-product Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Produced by geek hero and veteran TV showrunner Joss Whedon, the show benefits from having some of the star power behind the Avengers movie. Part super-hero action series and part government agency procedural, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. looks to be attempting to attract a broad audience while staying true to the subject material. The result of which is a surprisingly safe show somewhere in between sci-fi action romp and spy agency procedural.
Leading the ensemble cast is Clark Gregg, reprising his role as Agent Coulson. Gregg has been a supporting player in almost all of the recent Marvel comics’ movies and provides the star power to the project. Beyond that there aren’t many names of note, with the exception of a brief cameo by Cobie Smulders returning to her role of Agent Maria Hill from The Avengers and some Whedon alumni from past shows (J. August Richards and Ron Glass) the core cast is mostly comprised of untested talent. Despite this, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t turn into the Coulson show, and the supporting cast does a decent job of holding up their end while Gregg shines in a role he has come to own inside and out.
The plot of the pilot is not the most original setup, it opens with a pretty rote superhero origin setup, super powered man saves woman from a burning building, catching the attention he’d rather not get the attention of. This cues Coulson and his S.H.I.E.L.D. team to seek him out and find out what’s at the centre of his super-powery goodness. In their search the team abducts Skye, a vocal ‘hacktivist’ part of a group of anarchists known as the rising tide. Her capture and recruitment become the secondary story of the episode which ties itself nicely into the main story of tracking down the conflicted super human who is battling with the morality of his situation and cannot decide whether to abuse his power or to try to be a good man. Ultimately, the story is passable but not incredibly strong, it is clearly more about setting up the assembly of the team and the events of the plot seem to have little consequence.
When it comes right down to it, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a solid pilot with a lot to like about it. The production is clearly impressive, with high quality special effects both on the practical and the post production side of things, the camera work looks slick and clean and the acting is strong all around. The writing leave something to be desired but there is still charm in the dialogue. It looks very promising that Marvel and ABC will have a hit on their hands with this show, though it may not be the Whedon product die-hard fans have come to expect.