Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. the Hero Series That TV Deserves, Or the One It Needs Right Now?

MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Premiere RecapThe Broadcasting Company of America threw its mighty S.H.I.E.L.D. at you on Tuesday night — but was it truly super?

A small-screen follow-up/companion piece to The Avengers, Iron Man 3 and other Marvel-ous movies, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. resurrects (or did it?) Agent Phil Coulson (again played by Clark Gregg) for the purpose of assembling a team of agents that will investigate extra-normal and superhuman people (but never “mutants,” says 20th Century Fox’s lawyers!) and events worldwide.

RELATED | Ming-Na Wen on Playing S.H.I.E.L.D.’s ‘Bulldog’ and Joining the ‘Really Cool’ Whedon Family

The cast is populated by ER alum Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May, a revered soldier coaxed out of retirement to merely “drive the bus”; Sam Page Brett Dalton as rising star Agent Grant; Elizabeth Henstridge and Iain De Caestecker as the science-and-tech team of “Fitz-Simmons”; and Nashville’s Chloe Bennet playing Skye, a superhero-obsessed hacker who ultimately joins Coulson’s crew.

How I Met Your Mother‘s Cobie Smulders, also hailing from the Avengers film, puts in a decent-enough cameo as Maria Hill, who has a hand in the exposition that Coulson did not only stop breathing for less than a minute before recuperating in “Tahiti.”

RELATED | Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Books Ghost Whisperer‘s David Conrad for Top-Secret Gig

For its premiere Case of the Week, J. August Richards (Angel) guest-starred as Mike Peterson, an ordinary Joe/father who has acquired extraordinary powers. His public display of derring-do catches Skye’s eye at the same time he lands on S.H.I.E.L.D.’s radar. In the wake of The Battle of New York (see The Avengers), Coulson’s directive is to identify other humans with special abilities and bring them in before their powers are used for evil or, as he comes to realize, possibly co-opted by a dark organization known as Rising Tide. In the end, Mike’s condition leads to a callback to the Extremis virus from Iron Man 3.

By and large, the cast is solid, as much as can be determined by some fleeting introductions. But among the newer faces, Bennet definitely “pops” as a sassy cybergenius, while Dalton is, well, best served by action/fight sequences.

It’s Whedon, so the quotables are plenty (plus, I had one screening, two months ago). But here’s just a few that weren’t spoiled to death by a summer’s worth of promos:

“This is a nice set-up you have here. Ever think about adding a moat?”

“I don’t think Thor is technically a god.” “Well, then you haven’t been near his arms.”

“Under ‘People Skills,’ she drew… it looks like a little poop, with knives sticking out of it. That’s bad, right?” Then: “In Espionage, she gave you the highest marks since Romanoff” — Black Widow shout-out!

“I’m not Hermione, I can’t create instant paralysis with that.”

“With great power comes… a ton of weird crap that you are not prepared to deal with.”

Oh, and: flying Lola.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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149 Comments
  1. Sidney.B says:

    Surprised and entertained , definitely coming back next week. So yes , it’s A for me so far.

  2. sladewilson says:

    Okay, for “regular” folks – it was probably a nice outing. For comic book geeks, it rocked. Nice easter eggs. A very respectable pilot. It’s Whedon. It will come… This is gonna be a fun ride…

  3. Babygate says:

    I liked it a lot. Didn’t love it. It lacked a certain something but I can’t really pin point it. It’s like every time I expected a punch line, it wouldn’t happen. Or every time a moment would be built up, it wouldn’t deliver. Skye so far is the most interesting character, IMO. Of course, Coulson too. They both have charm and wit. The two tech geeks lost me most of the time. The tech speak combined with the British accents and the fast speech was a bit much for me. I was most disappointed by how sparse Melinda May’s presence was. This was one of those buildup moments that felt flat. She goes out in the field, though she didn’t really want to, gets hurt, says they will discuss it, but that never happens. Then she actually takes down a bad guy but the scene was so short and without context that it actually became rather anti-climactic. And Lola’s flying ability immediately took be back to Back to the Future and the 80’s and my immediate response was: now, why did they have to do that? The whole episode it felt like something was about to happen but that big moment never happened. It does look by the previews that there are some big moments coming up so I am looking forward to that. Overall, I like it enough to continue to DVR, but probably will not watch live again.

  4. Tess says:

    I don’t know if anyone else would agree with me, but the show felt a bit like “Torchwood” meets “Heroes” to me – not necessarily a bad thing since I was a fan of both those shows but I think I would’ve liked it more if SHIELD had reminded me less of those two shows and stood out more on its own. I’m willing to come back to it next week at least, but not entirely sold yet on the show.
    I wonder if the response people are giving to this show so far has anything to do with whether you have seen the various movies the show is based around or not – I would assume those that have were probably more excited by it and rated it higher than those who have not seen the films and thus didn’t get some of the scenes and dialog that referenced them.

  5. James D says:

    um I’m hooked. would it be possible to have two episodes a week, id really appreciate it ABC. Wheadon is perfect parts camp and pure epic awesomeness, with a gift for oneliners thrown in. the question is how much will Marvel and ABC invest into it, because I think only works if theirs high quality fx, big set pieces, and exotic locals. seeing how its Wheadon I expect it to follow an overarching storyline through out the season which makes me wonder what this show will actually be, is it a procederal? is it a serialized drama? or is it a pure action show with some humor? maybe all of those things, I don’t care to be honest i’ll watch it anyway. we’ve already got Ron Glass, will the rest of the Serenity crew drop in for cameos? I hope so.

  6. Mimo says:

    Okay, I’ve been reading a lot of the comments and I have to say it seems like a lot of people are judging this a bit harshly. I mean, it’s a spin-off (from a movie franchise) show about people who live in a world with superheroes, I for one wasn’t expecting something super high brow.

    Anyway, I personally enjoyed it, if more for the potential than anything else.

  7. LOL says:

    Disappointing. Expected so much better considering everyone involved. Too clichéd and formulaic.

  8. Missy Kelly says:

    Wish I could have seen it. The DVR recorded black screen! Now, I have to wait for On Demand to load it because it’s not playing again this weekend due to football. Dag nabbit.

  9. A Fan says:

    I enjoyed it. The Marvel inside jokes were fun, but I gotta say my favorite was seeing Gunn (J. August Richards) again. Love him (Does showing up on this show make him the first actor to act in both a Marvel piece and a DC piece on the small screen? I just realized that. That’s kinda neat.) Anyway, the episode wasn’t the greatest, but definitely entertaining, and in interviews the cast has made it very clear that they like the next episode better. I’ll be looking forward to that (and hopefully more stop-ins from Cobie).

  10. bobbie says:

    Joss Whedan – ’nuff said

  11. Jon says:

    For the most part I was disappointed with the show. After all the hype it just kind of sat there and really did nothing. I was looking forward to this show and it was one big let down. The plot for the most part was non existent. There was zero chemistry between any of the actors. The writing was very weak at best. Actually at times I found myself wanting to nod off. I really want to like this show I really do. I will give it some more time. I’m really surprised anyone really loved this pilot tonight as I read in some of the comments. Do you really feel that way, or you are convincing yourself you like it because your a fan of the movies and the comics. For me it was a letdown on a grand scale.

    • magreeda says:

      I agree with you, Jon. The people that say it was amazing are the ones who watched the show in their heads, not the one on the screen. I watched it, it was…competent. A pretty generic “government agency team” show pilot with some MCU references thrown in. It reminded me a lot of the original NCIS pilot for the show (not the backdoor one on JAG) and it was just as generic as that. Can it get better? Of course. But the pilot was nothing great.

  12. Tiffany says:

    Love it. Glad to see Ming-Na back on tv. I loved her on ER and as Mulan. Now I love her as Agent Melinda Nay Go Avenger.

  13. wordsmith says:

    Other Freakishly Over-Observant Viewers – did you catch the thing Skye did in the diner lining up the three sugar packets? And then later in the van with the three little SIM cards?
    Both times were very deliberate but they went by quickly and were never explained, unless I’m missing something.
    What’s up with that?

  14. murley says:

    I really enjoyed it. I am not sure what people were expecting. It introduced the characters, set up the premise and hinted at some intriguing mysteries with action and humor on top of all that. It has those great Joss moments where the expected outcome gets turned on its head and some funny throwaway lines. I definitely want to see more so it did its job!

  15. Lore says:

    Hermione!!!!

  16. Thecla says:

    I enjoyed the episode. I loved the writing, even though it was a bit cheesy at times. However, that’s fine by me! The only thing that really annoyed me were the special effects. That opening scene was just cringe worthy.. But I’ll definitely tune in next week!

  17. Amanda says:

    It’s Primeval with superhero’s. But I like it.

    I don’t think Ming-Na Wen is going to stay. I love her and her character but a cast this large needs more heavy-hitting characters to support the supporting cast. This feels like ALL supporting cast. Fitz-Simmons only works with both of them and you can’t have one young leading-dude without a potential love interest, hence both Skye and Grant are sticking around, too.

  18. t says:

    I loved the cheese…this will be a good show for families to watch. My daughter and i laughed quite a bit and i was very happy to see Cobie in the first episode!

  19. greysfan says:

    SHIELD was good but not great. I expected a bit more from this. I still enjoyed the pilot though despite it being a tad slow. I think it will improve in the coming weeks, well i at least hope so. I hope it doesn’t end up like other hero type shows. No Ordinary Family? Remember this one? So far The Blacklist is the best new show pilot this season.

  20. Kristina says:

    I liked it. I don’t think it was as good as it will be in a few episodes or so, because we’re getting used to a whole new set of characters in a familiar universe, so it seemed a little awkward at times. But I definitely liked it!

  21. Alice says:

    Meh- Not all pilots have to be super, and this one wasn’t, but I will stick with it because Whedon’s shows usually pay off. But I don’t get the reviews that thought this was the most amazing pilot ever. It was…fine. It didn’t suck. But I also didn’t come out of it thinking- OMG must tune in next week. I can deal with the incredibly cheesy stuff- like the final speech they gave J. August Richards (never have I so wanted to see someone shot in the head).

    If they could fix one thing, I would beg them to fix FitzSimmons- which baffles me, because Joss has plenty of experience writing the tech person/super smart/magic fixer character- and they are usually my favorite characters : Willow, Fred, Kaylee/Wash/River,Bennet, TOPHER. But with these guys, I don’t know if it was the sound that was messed up or the combination of the technobabble/accents/talking WAY too fast, but their dialogue was near unintelligible. And I don’t mean, “they used words I don’t understand” unintelligible, I mean -sounded like a rush of noise could not distinguish words at all. Which was super annoying because those type of characters usually have really funny references thrown in that I LOVE, but I can’t hear, because they seemed too focused on showing “Oh look, how cute, the British people talk in sync.” Blech. FIx it.

  22. Kristin D says:

    I liked it. As a pilot it did what it should have- set up the world, introduced the characters, and gave the general mission statement. I’m not sure what people were expecting. Yes it is Joss-but it is also tv. You have to adjust expectations. Also it is a pilot, as a general rule they are never that good. If I’m interested in a new series I give it at least 4 episodes to decide if I’m in. So far Coulson & Melinda May are the strong points for me but there is so much potential. Can’t wait for next week!

  23. mac says:

    I love Joss and treat Buffy/Angel like a religion but Shield was just meh.
    The characters are absolutely obnoxious, I’m not here to watch a show about a teen squat fighting against aliens. But that’s what we got, Grant, Skye, the techie and his assistant are alltogether basically carboard cutouts you put on your ad to appeal to teens

    Coulson, Hill and the guy played by J. August Richards were pretty great but they didn’t control the episode, the episode was dominated by characters I can’t bring myself to care about.

    Actually to rethink my original statement that the episode was ‘meh': it was a miss. The effects were neat, some jokes were spot on but the storyline didn’t grab me because some characters basically ruined all seriousness going out from it and smashed Shields (the organisation not just the show) credibility.

    This show needs to seriously step up its game

    The Avengers worked with a lot older cast because all of those characters were both believable in their roles and there was a level of experience to every single of these characters with Shield I felt I was attacked by cliche characters

  24. Morisot says:

    I found myself humming “Go, go, Power Rangers….”

  25. DG says:

    I liked it, will definitely stick with it for the season at least, even if just to get me from this years marvel movies to next years. I hope they don’t always do it in a monster-of-the-week format, I think it could really benefit from having 2 or 3 multi-episode arcs this season to create tension/cliffhangers from week to week. And there absolutely must be character development and decent relationships between the characters so it’s not just about set pieces and cool gadgets every week. Thanks to shows like Breaking Bad, we kind of expect more from TV now and it’s easier to lose viewers if it’s not provided or at least shows signs of trying to provide it.

  26. csr says:

    Not perfect but has Joss Whedon potential. Will keep watching.

  27. Cynthia says:

    I don’t understand why everybody said they were ‘expecting more’. What ‘exactly’ were you expecting? Shakespeare? Robert Downey Jr.? Some pompous, boring exposition? Stiff, immobile characters?(talking to ‘you’ D.C.) Aliens and Predators (like that would sell on t.v.) Yellow spandex? Sociopathic murderers that nobody cares about being relentlessly beaten up before being put in the slammer (Talking to you ‘again’, D.C.)
    In case you didn’t pay attention: the name of the show is “Agents” of Shield, not ‘Expensive Movie Actors Taking A Pay Cut’. That is to say, no, none of your favorite actors are going to appear in this t.v. series.

  28. Tom says:

    Paraphrasing a Batman reference for a Marvel property in the post title is just bad writing. The show hopefully will grow, like all Joss shows tend to.

  29. Whatever says:

    I was happy to see J.August Richards from Angel and I enjoyed Coulson.
    The show was pretty good I’ll watch it again.

  30. Tee says:

    I’ll keep watching for now because it’s Joss and because there’s not a whole lot else this fall that I’m interested in. It wasn’t terrible, it just wasn’t anything super special that made me want to watch more. Also Chloe Bennet’s acting was cringeworthy at times.

  31. Asashii Fustazi says:

    If i was twelve years old this show would be great, iam not, but after watching top notch cable original programs its hard to watch commercial heavy watered down network television. I dont see this show making to season 2 not in this day and age!

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