Questionable Friday: Marvel's? Agents of SHIELD

Every Friday, unless I think of something better to do, I'll be answering a geekery-related question from Facebook followers (though if you leave a question in the comments below, I won't hold it against you and will put it in the magic hat). You can ask for opinion or fact, and I might even do proper research. Then again, my answers may turn out to be... questionable.

The question THIS week comes from my old school chum Doctor Mi, and it's in several parts because he's a harsh taskmaster: "Have you been watching Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? Can you give a full critique especially looking at how well or not has Whedon stayed to established cannon, or feel/mood of the comic book equivalent. What are the best moments of the series so far and the worse parts also. And why do you think Tahiti is a 'magical place'?" (He further adds that he's not that far along so doesn't want to be spoiled. Well, ok.)
Wouldn't it be horrible on my part if I just answered the first part of that question with a simple "No"? If only I could. I did watch most of the 2013 episodes, Doctor Mi, and missed only one, but I admit I was working on this here blog the whole time and could never give it full attention. I just find it so BORING. It comes off feeling like Torchwood-lite, and what's "lite" is the characters, most of which are impossibly banal. The quirky neurotic scientists, the square-jawed hero, the audience identification character who also happens to dubiously be a super-hacker... Only Agent Coulson, cool from the movies (but dropping fast), and hot and kickass Melinda May (but then, my ongoing crush on Ming Na-Wen has never been a secret) can hold my interest, and even that hasn't been enough. See - and this is in no way an original thought because everyone's been saying it - despite spinning out of the super-successful movie franchise and having the word "Marvel" right in the title, Agents of SHIELD seems intent on not using the Marvel Universe. I don't know if it's because every character in the MU now has potential for their own series or movie franchise (certainly, who would have thought Rocket Raccoon would be poised for movie stardom), but somebody somewhere is keeping all the cool toys away from the small screen. The pilot COULD have starred Luke Cage instead of a character with similar powers, for example. Instead we get echoes of Marvel characters, people who could have been named villains, but just aren't.

Just watch Arrow for how to REALLY make use of a superhero universe. Arrow does the same thing Agents of SHIELD does, like throw in obscure cameos only extreme fans would notice (like the scientist in that anti-gravity episode being Graviton's civilian identity), but also puts ACTUAL superheroes and supervillains on the screen, like, ALL THE TIME. And it's doing it on a TV budget, making it all very "street" and "realistic", but geez, Marvel has always been considered more street than DC! So what's their excuse? I get the idea of being "backstage" of a superhero universe, but then the series would have worked better as Damage Control or something.
Absurdly, Marvel isn't even supporting the show with a SHIELD comic, either in its regular continuity or as a TV tie-in. I guess they don't need to. SHIELD appears in half their books these days. It's kind of annoying. I remember when superheroes didn't need government oversight. DC's gotten into that racket with the New52 as well, and it's boring as hell. So I'm not sure I can compare the TV show with the "comic book equivalent", but I'll say this: Every SHIELD comic I've ever read, from the old Steranko stuff to Hickman's Secret Warriors has been way cooler and much more super-powered than this Joss Whedon-produced misstep. I like everything else Whedon has ever done, pretty much, but it feels like he's rather far from away from this particular project.

Best moments: I dunno. Melinda May stuff. Some of Coulson's cooler lines from the pilot. Worst moments: You're asking me to remember things about a show I don't find memorable AT ALL. A show I've stopped watching even from the corner of my eye, by the way. It's not a moment, really, but if there's one thing that's an absolute turn-off, it's the HD look of the show that looks like it was made for 3D televisions. It's horrendous and looks incredibly cheap. Hate it.

So the Tahiti thing? Memory implant and I still say Coulson is a Life Model Decoy. I'm past caring though.

So yeah, sorry to have gone negative on my first Questionable Friday, but Doctor Mi took me there. Unfortunately. If there was any TV project I would have wanted to see succeed (critically, I don't care if it somehow does well ratings-wise), it's this one.

12 comments:

Martin Léger said...

They revealed Tahiti and Coulson revival. My only comment is LAME/BORING.

Siskoid said...

Did they? You miss one episode, you miss everything. But Mike DID say he didn't want to be spoiled so... the comment stands.

LMD would still have been cooler.

Craig Oxbrow said...

I liked the reveal. But then I like (although don't love) the show.

Delta said...

I found the show to be totally unwatchable (tried episode 1 and 6, I think). My prediction was that it would get canceled about 4 episodes in; I'm surprised it's doing as well as it is.

Siskoid said...

Someone made the point that it preyed on a public that was already used to supporting things they don't actually like and keep hoping will get better. I.e. comic book fans.

Calamity Jon said...

To Delta's comment, the show was pre-approved for a whole season - it was cancellation-proof by executive fiat.

Which makes it all the more ridiculous that it so ridiculously boring. It had all the freedom a show could ever want - budget, built-in audience, a ripe universe, studio support - to take risks at every turn...

Siskoid said...

I know! You have to want to screw it up!

Calamity Jon said...

I was actually chatting with some friends about this show yesterday and what amazes me is that, on the one hand, you have these older sitcoms and adventure shows from the 70s and 80s - many of them being largely unwatchable drek, admittedly, but some being surprisingly enjoyable and rewatchable - that were never meant to be watched more than once, maybe once again in re-runs, and MAYBE one time again far down the road in syndication, and yet they so often comprise some of the most compelling, legendary television in our culture (See Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Prisoner, etc).

Meanwhile you have a show like Agents of SHIELD that is, from the git-go, deliberately intended to be watched repeatedly, on first broadcast and then again on demand and again in the streaming service and again on DVD and again with the commentary track and again with deleted scenes, and then watched again over and over whenever you drag out the DVD box set, and it's a slog from start to finish. It basically had too much freedom to succeed...

American Hawkman said...

I just noticed yesterday that it seems to be on the exact same trajectory as Angel' s first season... I would bet we'll see some staffing shifts really soon.

Oh, and Marvel DOES have a SHIELD series... they just call it Secret Avengers.

JohnF said...

AoS is finally getting good. Not great, but good. As in, I don't have to force myself to sit through the whole episode. Now I actually enjoy them.
Mind you, it's only been the two most recent episodes that felt like this for me.

Delta said...

"Someone made the point that it preyed on a public that was already used to supporting things they don't actually like and keep hoping will get better. I.e. comic book fans."

Ha! Creepily observant.

Matt Celis said...

Only watched 4 before I quit it. Sounds like I ain't missing much. What a waste of opportunity.

One thing that bugged me about the Marvel movies was SHIELD's ubiquity; I didn't know the comics are that way now too. But I stopped buying new Marvel comics in the late '80s.

Chloe Bennet is cute; she should have stayed on Nashville instead.

 

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