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.

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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.”

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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.

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