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Flights, Tights, and TV Nights: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

TV Nights: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Episode 1 “Pilot”
airdate 9/24/13

I’ve been wanting to add TV shows to this site for a long time, but there are a couple big problems with that situation for me, one is that there were very few new TV shows that I could look at an episode at a time as they came out, I had wanted to do it with Arrow last year, but for whatever reason I just never got around to it. And if I wanted to go back to an older series I would want to do a full season at a time, and when I barely have enough time to watch movies, it’s an even taller order to take the time to watch a full season of a show, even if it could be broken up into smaller chunks. But I this year I was excited by a new series coming out this year, it’s based in the Marvel cinematic universe and it brings back everyone’s favorite Avenger, Agent Coulson. I’m talking about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And it started with a very impressive pilot. I just hope it lives up to its premier.

Agents of SHIELD

One of the first things that a pilot has to do is set up its world and its characters, and luckily a lot of the work has already been done for S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson is a welcome presence and he brings back exactly what made him likeable in all the earlier Marvel movies. He’s funny, he’s charming, and he does things not entirely the way you might expect, like a great moment in this episode where he uses truth serum on his level 7 trainee rather than the woman they are interrogating. But for the most part, this episode is all about bringing together and introducing all the characters that aren’t Coulson. We’re first introduced to Agent Ward through a fun little action/espionage scene where Ward recovers a rogue piece of Chitari technology. He’s one of the big audience insights into the inner workings of S.H.I.E.L.D. because while he was already in the organization, he has just been promoted to the super secret “level 7” and through him, we get introduced to several of the other characters.

It is worth noting that besides Coulson, most of the other characters at this point in the show are very broad and very much character tropes, likeable tropes, but tropes just the same. There’s the comic relief, somewhat bickering, somewhat socially awkward tech squad Fitz Simmons, there’s the old vet reluctantly called back into duty played by Ming Na, and the wildcard fly in the ointment hacker. I do admit that I do like me a good wildcard character, but at the same time I hope they do something more interesting with her. The opening mission follows a Joss Whedon vet J. August Richards who played Gunn in Angel as someone you first think is a hero but turns out to be involved in something much greater than that. And while this show isn’t really played up as a mystery I did like the fact that there were a few twists and turns here in the pilot episode.

The basis for this episode's "freak of the week" which they hopefully won't continue.

The basis for this episode’s “freak of the week” which they hopefully won’t continue.

The strongest moments are by far the humor, which is very familiar if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s previous works. But on top of that, there are also great moments of action and some nice special effects. I also really enjoyed a lot of the tie ins to the other Marvel releases like mentioning New York, Thor, and the Extremis project. It’s tough to say if the quality of the special effects, which were done on a pilot’s typically inflated budget, will continue on through the rest of the series or if they will falter off in favor of keeping the costs down, but this is a Marvel property and it did open to some huge ratings so time will tell. For now I have high hopes and as long as they keep Coulson in the forefront, I’ll be a happy camper. I also hope to keep up with the new episodes each week so keep an eye out, I’m also in the process of working through another series and might try to catch up with Arrow. What did you think of the pilot episode, are you going to keep watching? And what else are you looking forward to/excited by this fall? Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.

Quick note: On Hulu, there’s also a companion 5-minute show called M.A.O.S. Declassified which has a brief rundown of the episode, a little behind the scenes, and a bit of fun. I did like some of the humor in the short, even though it’s pretty much a fluff piece. No real extra insight, but it does show a clip of Coulson’s death scene from the Avengers. Worth a watch if you have 5 minutes to kill, especially if you’re watching M.A.O.S. on Hulu already.

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About Bubbawheat

I'm a comic book movie enthusiast who has watched and reviewed over 300 superhero and comic book movies in the past four years, my goal is to continue to find and watch and review every superhero movie ever made.

Posted on September 26, 2013, in Marvel, TV Nights and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Just finished the pilot about a half an hour ago and I liked what I saw. A lot. Of course there are the obligatory set ups, mysteries, references but it all came together really well. It was great to see Firefly alum Ron Glass back in a Whedon production. I do hope they continue the action, humor and cross stories. I will keep watching indeed and like you. totally have high hopes. For me the selling point is Coulson, all the way. Good review, Bubbawheat. Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Man, it’s been a long time since I watched Firefly, I knew I recognized the guy but I didn’t place him. I recognized Gunn right away, but missed that one. Very glad to see Coulson back and curious how long they’ll ride the “magical” Tahiti trip.

      • Ha! “Shepherd Book!” I love Glass. Always have. Cool cat. Used to be in a show called “Barney Miller,” a cop sitcom from a while back. A long while back, lol. I’m dating myself big time…

        Anywho, the “magical tahiti trip” should be interesting to follow and see how it plays out. I thought Coulson and Skye had some great chemistry and watching Ming Na getting down and dirty in some action scenes was pretty rad.

  2. As Victor already mentioned, my kids immediately piped up, “Shepherd Book!” when Ron Glass stepped into that scene. We all had a fun time with the pilot. Of course, it’s got to carry through with all that it is promising. I really want to Whedon to break the bad streak of late for short-lived television series. Good look at this, bw.

    • Thanks, hope I can keep up with it every week, and I hope they keep up with it every week. The pilot got huge numbers so there’s a good chance that it’ll do well, but you just never know.

  3. I also had a lot of fun with the pilot, though I agree that the supporting characters are pretty thin. I expect they’ll get built up as the season goes along. I like the tone of the show, which doesn’t take itself too seriously. It feels like a Whedon show, and it was great to see Book and Gunn back on the screen. There’s a lot to like, and I have a feeling audiences will stick around. Looking forward to your posts on future episodes!

  4. I had to rewind when Glass came on screen. He’s awesome! I thought this set up the show very nicely indeed and it’ll be great to see Marvel on TV again.

    • It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Aside from the short lived Blade and syndicated Mutant X, their last big live action show was way back with Bixby & Ferrigno’s Incredible Hulk. Wow. Plenty of animated stuff, but DC’s been the big hitter in the live action TV realm in the past 20 years.

  5. We’re pretty much in agreement on this one Bubba. I could only watch about 3 episodes of ARROW, the dialog is kinda lame. Despite the gorgeous lead actor, like Smallville I just can’t get into this one. Hopefully SHIELD would keep my interest though, we’ll see.

    Nice tip there about the Hulu companion piece. Might watch that tonight.

    • I’m not sure what it was about Arrow, I think it was mainly that I didn’t make time for it for the first few weeks, and then I didn’t feel like trying to catch up. I may check out the 2nd season when it premiers and see how well it lets newcomers in, and if I like it I’ll go back and catch up.

      The Hulu extra is major fluff, funny fluff, but still fluff. I’ll probably keep up with it and will definitely point it out if it has something significant.

  6. There’s a lot of potential here, but most of the new character feel very thin — and having them all be Generic Hollywood Pretty 20somethings didn’t help matters. It’s an ensemble cast and it takes time to flesh that out, but compare it to Whedon’s other work in Firefly. You had a good grasp on those characters right away, as they were incredibly visually distinct, with differing voices and roles and personalities. Here we have… um… nerd #1, nerd #2, woman with a mysterious past #1, woman with a mysterious past #2, and GenericBro McHeroGruff. Not off to a flying start.

    In addition I was hoping for a bit more of a connection to the Marvel universe. Not expecting a name character to show up every week, but beyond a generic mash of prior metahuman tech being used as the MacGuffin d’jour, there wasn’t much. Hopefully the evil science dudes behind this week’s crisis are A.I.M. or something.

    • It’s a bit harder when you’re dealing with a Men in Black type organization like S.H.I.E.L.D. instead of a freeform sci-fi show, but I agree with the character stereotypes anyway. Honestly, I thought they did a good job of connecting with the Marvel Universe. Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill was a welcome surprise, there’s the mentions of Thor (not just his arms, but the whole New Mexico incident), Stark, New York, Chitari tech, and Extremis. That seems pretty well connected in my eyes.

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