Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 7.236% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

This is the most fascinatingly lukewarm show I have ever seen.
A show based on super-heroes with this kind of mojo should, in theory, be super-exciting, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is just… not.  The three plots thus far have been almost straight out of a superpowered cop show, and barring Agent Coulson, the characters are pretty by-the-numbers too.  We have the conflicted hot hacker, the dedicated hot muscleman, the other dedicated hot muscleman (who is a woman), and the two “adorable” nerds.  Last night’s episode was an exercise in predictability: will the lead character who is mentioned in the opening credits as an ongoing personality betray S.H.I.E.L.D?  I’ll let you decide.
And yet Agents of SHIELD – I refuse to put in the dots any more – isn’t bad, either.  It’s got some memorably Whedony lines.  Agent Coulson is the kind of boss you’d love to have – clever, self-deprecating, possessed of a curious history, navigating thorny patches of bureaucracy and moral quandaries to achieve the best possible outcome.
It’s hovering perfectly in that “Not uninteresting enough to drop, not interesting enough for me to get excited about yet.”  Honestly, I’m more thrilled when a new episode of Hotel Impossible pops up on my DVR.  And yet I’m still there, because it’s so thoroughly and competently done that I’m not going to miss an episode.
Yet I wonder how much of that is conscious.  Buffy had some great opening starts, and it wasn’t great in the ratings.  I wonder if the network heads specifically said to Joss, “Hey.  Make this more like a procedural to rope in some of the CBS/NCIS/Law and Order crowd, and tone down those crazy character antics that got you cancelled on the other station.”  I’m wondering whether this sort of studied blandness is a feature instead of a bug.
At this point, Agents of SHIELD feels more like a promise than a show.  I trust Joss that the overall plot is going to develop.  I trust that I’ll come to love someone other than Agent Coulson.  I trust by the end of this season, I’ll be watching in real time as opposed to picking it up whenever.
But right now, it is coasting fascinatingly in a way that I’ve never seen before: perfectly-engineered nerd mediocrity.

4 Comments

  1. Lyn Belzer-Tonnessen
    Oct 9, 2013

    See, I adore FitzSimmons, but I have a thing for adorable nerds. Just ask my husband. 🙂

  2. Carolyn Mansager
    Oct 9, 2013

    Agreed. However, in a TV pilot, you should never have already seen the clever answer, or main plot point, in a feature superhero movie before. TV pilot cardinal sin #1? Committed by Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D and resulting in making it harder for me to care to watch Episode 1, past the TV pilot. [Sorry, no spoilers.] Episode 1 & 2 currently sitting on my DVR. Am I sold enough past the first plot and to take the time and watch them? Hmm.. unsure I want to give up precious time for lukewarm mediocrity. Although, the lukewarm mediocrity was created by Joss Whedon. The promise is there, and there *are* adorable nerds. What to do..What to do..

  3. JohnF
    Oct 9, 2013

    The biggest problem for me is Skye, who is almost the worst actor I’ve ever seen. She’s approaching Paul Walker territory.

    • TheFerrett
      Oct 13, 2013

      The acting is definitely not above par on this one. They’re very pretty. Not very expressive.

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