‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ is Very Whedon-y

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Pilot TV Review
Photo: ABC / Marvel

After watching the first season pilot for ABC and Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” I can see where the appeal for die-hard fans of The Avengers theatrical franchise comes into play as it plays heavily on the final events of the superhero team-up and introduces the continuation of the Extremis plan introduced in Iron Man 3. The character introduction and the return of Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson (whose death was faked in The Avengers) is cheesy, but all of the actors fit into the universe of what is essentially just more well-executed, somewhat tiresome Joss Whedon snark.

It ultimately works, but I can’t really imagine watching on an episode-by-episode basis. Even the after-show teaser for the rest of the season suggests we “won’t want to miss the final minutes of every episode”, which tells me this thing is going to be filled with cliffhangers galore. Not necessarily a bad thing, but just something that would become incredibly tiresome without having each episode available on an instant basis.

From a character perspective all the boxes are checked from the cute Chloe Bennet as Skye, who is essentially the Eliza Dushku or Sarah Michelle Gellar stand-in; Brett Dalton as new recruit Grant Ward who really isn’t sure he wants to be involved but we all know he really does; Ming-Na Wen as the mysterious Melinda May who has some ass-kicking ability of her own; and the ever-so-clever Iain De Caestecker and Elizabeth Henstridge as geeky S.H.I.E.L.D. scientists Leo Fitz and Jemma Simmons, or “Fitzsimmons” as Coulson so cleverly refers to them.

Cobie Smulders shows up for a minute or two as Maria Hill to keep the Avengers thread alive and I can’t quite tell how big a role J. August Richards will play as Mike Peterson, but his tie to the “Caterpillar” project (some Extremis thing) and connection to a doctor and some clandestine group trying to create superhumans seems as if it will be the season-long plotline so I imagine he’ll be back for more.

One thing I wonder is how they’ll handle the feature films. Will this play into Thor: The Dark World? Will this introduce Edgar Wright‘s Ant-Man? How much of this will be recognized in The Avengers: Age of Ultron?

Overall, the series seems far more thought out than “Heroes” ever was and has the advantage of learning from that show’s mistakes. On top of that, I imagine it will remain relatively safe so as not to buck the theatrical releases where Marvel will hope to continually make billions.

I expect I may return to the series once the entirety of the first season is complete or in multiple episode bursts, but the cliffhanger nature of it guarantees I won’t be tuning in each week, it’s just not interesting enough for that.