Well, like everyone else, I was all fired up for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., hereafter called AoS because damned if I’m going to keep on typing all those periods.
And that’s kind of how I feel about the show — damned if I’m going to keep on with all that… blah.
I consider SHIELD the most disappointing “most anticipated” show in my memory. Not that it’s terrible, just that it’s so terribly mediocre. I wanted to like it. I tried to like it. But it’s just not worth the effort TO like it.
Don’t get me wrong. If you want NCIS: Marvel, this is your cuppa. If you’re all for mediocre TV, loaded with lazy writing, wooden acting, and plot holes with every episode, again, this is the show for you.
However, if you expected witty, fast-paced writing, a cast with chemistry, great acting and direction, nifty plots, and an overarching, twisty plotline — in other words, if you expected Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly or a movie anything like The Avengers — there are a lot of other shows out there that can fulfill this need, including the original NCIS which has all of those things. AoS has none of them, however.
But, in a desperate effort to be journalistically fair and balanced, let’s review just what this show does that puts it firmly in the Blah Zone for me.
First off, it’s always a risk to take a supporting character, minor or otherwise, and build a show around them. For all the success of NCIS, Maude, The Jeffersons, every Law & Order that has other words following, and many others besides, TV Land is littered with the likes of Joanie Loves Chachi and Joey and many more. Most of which I can’t even remember because they were that bad and forgettable.
So, this show is built around Agent Coulson, who we all saw die in The Avengers. In fact, his death was hugely meaningful, the pivotal moment of the movie. And now he’s back. Which destroys all the meaningful of his death, because, hey, resurrection! And which also creates a “mystery” about how he was saved and revived. Is he a clone? Does SHIELD have some kind of resurrection machine? Does anyone actually care?
I did care, for about five minutes. But I’m tired of Coulson now. I loved him in the movies, but what were endearing traits are now just tics. The supposed “depth” we’re getting on the character isn’t real, and it also isn’t consistent with the character from the movies. Didn’t want to have to be totally faithful to the movies? Then don’t put the guy who died as the anchor character in this show and it won’t matter.
As for the rest of the cast of Pretty People Behaving Predictably, we have the Stoic Warrior Woman, the Brooding Super Agent, not one but TWO Annoyingly Twee Scientists, and the Super Hacker With A SECRET. I guessed her secret, btw, first episode in. It’s not an exciting secret. You can guess it, too. I’ll give you the same info I had: she’s an orphan, and she’s dedicated to Finding the Truth.
This extremely non-diverse cast (I don’t call one Asian, one supposedly half-Asian-but-you-can’t-actually-tell, and a couple of black guest stars diverse casting) has zero chemistry, either with the screen or each other. Considering that at least two of the actors I’ve adored in a variety of other things, I have to say that whoever did the casting failed.
But not as badly as the writers and directors are failing.
The acting is uniformly wooden, and I put this on the directors at least as much as the actors, because, again, I’ve seen some of these actors on other shows and movies and they didn’t suck in those. Everyone has one, and only one, facial expression per scene. Some, like our Stoic Warrior Woman, have only one expression per show, potentially per the entire series. Every episode has plot holes, or gibberish (the actors playing the scientists shared in an interview that when they’re doing background “sciencey stuff” they’re given gibberish science speak to toss out…which I find lazy and insulting), or incorrect facts about something real. Once or twice, okay. Every episode? Come on.
Speaking of the science… in the pilot, and this is a spoiler alert, the solution to what to do with a tesseract item is NOT to call Thor and have him take it home, NOT to lock it away in some very secured vault, but instead to… shoot it into the sun.
Now, as I remember from three different Marvel movies, the tesseracts can move you through time and space. And blow things up in a way Michael Bay only dreams about. They are incredibly powerful. And so, instead of doing something smart with this weapon of mass power and destruction, our team of protectors uses the sun as a garbage dump, and shoots the most dangerous substance known TO Earth into Earth’s only source of life-giving power. Fittingly, this goes right along with the same team that can’t bother to write real scientific dialog for it’s two genius scientists to utter.
However, the thing I dislike the most is SHIELD itself. Gone are any real ambiguities about the organization and its mission. It’s the GOOD side. Every episode stresses this in some way. These are GOOD GUYS doing GOOD for GOOD reasons. But that’s not what SHIELD actually is.
Before someone says, oh, but Gini, that’s the comics and this is TV, I’m going to say that in The Avengers, and all the Marvel movies leading up to it, SHIELD is not shown to be benign. They’re shown to be powerful, and useful, but not necessarily good. They ARE trying to take alien tech and make weapons, and Nick Fury knows about it, and, apparently condones it, at least to a certain degree.
The thing that makes SHIELD interesting is that they aren’t all good, they aren’t always driven by noble ideals, they aren’t always going to save the day. Sometimes them winning isn’t a good thing.
But in AoS, they are ONLY good. Worried about our Super Hacker’s secret? Don’t be. It won’t be anything interesting, anything that would make her less than GOOD.
This week’s episode (11-5-13) reminded me of an old Gilligan’s Island episode (wait for it) in that everyone is literally paired off into cute couples by the end of the hour. The difference between this show and the Gilligan’s Island episode is that there isn’t a 7th guy to be odd man out (poor Skipper). Now, I like romance. A lot. However, if, at the end of the hour, I’m gagging with the obvious “love is in the air” quality of your show, instead of cheering, and your show is supposed to be filled with action and excitement, then you’re not doing it right.
Speaking of action and excitement… I’m never worried about any of the characters. I know that, despite my hopes to the contrary, none of them are going to die. Oh sure, it may LOOK like they’re going to die, but they won’t. It’s far too safe and predictable a show for that. Characters die on NCIS, but not on NCIS: Marvel.
And if I’m going to spend an hour with an NCIS show, I’ll choose the one with a great cast filled with chemistry, nifty plots, and great acting, writing, and directing. In other words, I’ll watch NCIS or pull out my Buffy DVDs.
AoS? You’ve been decommissioned.