Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 2: 0-8-4

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Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Review - Episode 2: 0-8-4

Motley crew of misfits packed together in an aircraft bouncing from adventure to adventure? Okay, Joss. It's not exactly more Firefly, but I'll take it.

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Good analysis, Bob. I wholeheartedly agree on the amount of "quipping" that's going on in the show. It's just wading too deep in it and it makes it hard to take the show seriously at times..

One thing I'd like your opinion on, if possible.. What did you think of Fury's remark to Coulson about "Trading you in for a Winnebago?" It kinda step in line with your idea of Coulson being a robot or android of some sort..

Im also wondering if they will use the show to introduce new heros as a taster for fans to see if they are movie worthy. Also I know Scarlet Witch and Quick Silver are in Avengers 2. But will they be introduced in this show, or atleast discussed in some way before Avengers 2? Maybe hints about Ultron set up in advance.

I just had an awesome thought about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Since it exists on television, it could allow the Marvel Movie Universe to include more characters that are out of reach due to various studios owning the rights. Spiderman could never be in Age of Ultron since Sony Pictures owns the rights to use him in movies, but that exclusivity does not extend to television.

Makabriel:
Good analysis, Bob. I wholeheartedly agree on the amount of "quipping" that's going on in the show. It's just wading too deep in it and it makes it hard to take the show seriously at times..

One thing I'd like your opinion on, if possible.. What did you think of Fury's remark to Coulson about "Trading you in for a Winnebago?" It kinda step in line with your idea of Coulson being a robot or android of some sort..

He said "Downgrading you to a Winnebago", not "Trading you in for a..."

He was referring to the damaged plane, not Coulson.

Sweet to see more of these reviews of Agents of SHIELD, Bob. I can understand the characters being a bit too perfect but I'm hoping it will work its way out as the show develops. I would like to see more villains and nods to the Marvel Universe pop up but I get the feeling that if they did that all the time, it might be a case of "too much of a good thing".

Still, I'd like to see a more cerebral villain take on the agents like Purple Man or Mister Fear. Someone who can manipulate the fears and weaknesses of these characters for their own advantage or just for their own sick perversions.

Also, when Bob brought up Tarantula and his pointy shoes, am I the only one who immediately thought of Wizard's Twisted Toyfare Theater?

Houseman:

Makabriel:
Good analysis, Bob. I wholeheartedly agree on the amount of "quipping" that's going on in the show. It's just wading too deep in it and it makes it hard to take the show seriously at times..

One thing I'd like your opinion on, if possible.. What did you think of Fury's remark to Coulson about "Trading you in for a Winnebago?" It kinda step in line with your idea of Coulson being a robot or android of some sort..

He said "Downgrading you to a Winnebago", not "Trading you in for a..."

He was referring to the damaged plane, not Coulson.

Hah, I just rewatched that scene "I have the authority to downgrade your a$$ to a winnebago" I took it literally, not talking about the Bus...

My bad!

Yeah -- the casting on this show just isn't working for me. I spend quite a bit of time during each episode thinking how lucky Whedon has been in this particular department in the past. Everybody really seems like a pale imitation of an earlier Whedon character -- May/Zoe (Firefly), Skye/Willow (Buffy), Fitzsimmons/Topher (Dollhouse), etc.

The only person who is spot-on with his precursor is Ward -- and nobody ever asked for the continuing adventures of Riley Finn.

I cannot express how glad I am at the show's "90s-ness"; it definitely wouldn't look out of place alongside Xena and the X-Files. I haven't been the biggest fan of the tense, breathless, season-long plots custom-made to give every episode a cliffhanger that have been trending since 2004 - they can be effective, but keeping up with more than two such shows saps all of my attention.

I prefer the episodic style that S.H.I.E.L.D. is going for. Not that 90s-style plots couldn't be terrible (Brannon Braga's Terra Nova is a good modern example of how NOT to do a monster-of-the-week show), but S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing it justice. I'm still worried (justifiably, based on some of the comments) that modern audiences don't really want something like that. The ratings probably plummeted this week, though I haven't checked.

craddoke:
Yeah -- the casting on this show just isn't working for me. I spend quite a bit of time during each episode thinking how lucky Whedon has been in this particular department in the past. Everybody really seems like a pale imitation of an earlier Whedon character -- May/Zoe (Firefly), Skye/Willow (Buffy), Fitzsimmons/Topher (Dollhouse), etc.

The only person who is spot-on with his precursor is Ward -- and nobody ever asked for the continuing adventures of Riley Finn.

Sorry, but Skye is Faith reborn, just a geeky version of her. She is so much like Eliza Dushku it's scary. Mannerisms and everything..

Seneschal:
I cannot express how glad I am at the show's "90s-ness"; it definitely wouldn't look out of place alongside Xena and the X-Files.

But is it a good 90s ensemble/monster-of-the-week show? Not yet -- those shows overcame the limitations of their budgets and medium with rock-solid writing, characters that defied easy stereotyping, and an intimacy of action (i.e., the struggles were small-scale ones but served as microcosms for bigger issues/struggles that were beyond the reach of the shows). SHIELD doesn't have any of those things, although it could build them up if given the chance. Will it be given that chance, though? Will the interested/invested parties allow it to have its Buffy season 1? I'm doubtful.

On the bright side, though, there are looks of examples to show that good 90s shows in that mold have never really gone away -- although they do tend to be a bit more Canadian nowadays (e.g., Lost Girl, Continuum). Maybe SHIELD should relocate to Canada?

EDIT: Forgot one relevant example (since it's also a new premiere) of a current show that does the 90s Xena/X-Files/Buffy thing right -- Sleepy Hollow. Right now it's a much better show than SHIELD -- and I would not be surprised if Giles popped into their secret base/library to ask how their research on the latest monster is going.

Makabriel:
\Sorry, but Skye is Faith reborn, just a geeky version of her. She is so much like Eliza Dushku it's scary. Mannerisms and everything..

The actress does seem to be channeling Eliza Dushku (did she read for the part? Because it seems like it was written for her), but the flighty hacker geek is pre-witch Willow grown up -- with maybe a dash of Kaylee.

Agents of Shield is Team Knight Rider without the talking cars.

If you take out Clark and Ming-na, it really just boils down to a puddle of nothingness.

Now, if they kept Gunn around (I forget the characters name), it may have had a chance, or at least... (puts on shades)... some color
(Yeaaaaaaaaah!)

unacomn:
Agents of Shield is Team Knight Rider without the talking cars.

To be fair, we don't know for sure that Lola can't talk. I agree about Gunn (J. August Richards) and Ming-Na, though. They were the only actors able to portray three dimensional characters in the premiere.

It's still pretty bland, but genre shows almost always need a few episodes to find their footing. Right now we're still in a housekeeping phase: introduce the team, bring the team together, start having them work as a team, hint that they have other things going on like mysterious past, etc.

And the bad guys would have gotten away with it, if they'd only used zip-ties instead of rope!

One slight tangent, though. I am so tired of those conversations where the resident smart guy/scientist character starts explaining things in techno-babble, only for another character to interrupt with, "English, please?" Can we ever get a smarty-pants character on a team who knows how to communicate with laypeople effectively? The snake expert from Snakes On a Plane is the only one I remember!

craddoke:

Seneschal:
I cannot express how glad I am at the show's "90s-ness"; it definitely wouldn't look out of place alongside Xena and the X-Files.

But is it a good 90s ensemble/monster-of-the-week show? Not yet -- those shows overcame the limitations of their budgets and medium with rock-solid writing, characters that defied easy stereotyping, and an intimacy of action (i.e., the struggles were small-scale ones but served as microcosms for bigger issues/struggles that were beyond the reach of the shows). SHIELD doesn't have any of those things, although it could build them up if given the chance. Will it be given that chance, though? Will the interested/invested parties allow it to have its Buffy season 1? I'm doubtful.

On the bright side, though, there are looks of examples to show that good 90s shows in that mold have never really gone away -- although they do tend to be a bit more Canadian nowadays (e.g., Lost Girl, Continuum). Maybe SHIELD should relocate to Canada?

EDIT: Forgot one relevant example (since it's also a new premiere) of a current show that does the 90s Xena/X-Files/Buffy thing right -- Sleepy Hollow. Right now it's a much better show than SHIELD -- and I would not be surprised if Giles popped into their secret base/library to ask how their research on the latest monster is going.

I wouldn't say it's a good 90s show...yet! Pilots are generally audience-baits and second episodes establish the formula & status quo, but the meat of the show will be revealed in the next few weeks. As of right now, I love the setting and find the characters funny and endearing - it has me hopeful that the meat will turn out good. Of course, if it turns out rotten, if the stories go nowhere fresh, if they forget to develop the characters and just retread the same old mysteries that Picard could solve in his sleep, then no amount of funny quips and Avengers references will save the show, but my first impression is good.

I'm currently in the process of watching Continuum, and it has pleasantly surprised me, but it doesn't seem episodic (yet) - there is no ensemble, no standard plot, no base of operations. I haven't seen more than a few episodes, though, so I cannot say.

And that sounds like high praise for Sleepy Hollow. I'll be sure to check it out.

MovieBob:
Motley crew of misfits packed together in an aircraft bouncing from adventure to adventure? Okay, Joss. It's not exactly more Firefly, but I'll take it.

Seemed more like Angle to me, what with all the seemingly helpless nerds being chaperoned after by a previously established fanfavorite. And was it just me or did Nick Furry seem a little... lost during his cameo at the end?

Falseprophet:
It's still pretty bland, but genre shows almost always need a few episodes to find their footing. Right now we're still in a housekeeping phase: introduce the team, bring the team together, start having them work as a team, hint that they have other things going on like mysterious past, etc.

And the bad guys would have gotten away with it, if they'd only used zip-ties instead of rope!

One slight tangent, though. I am so tired of those conversations where the resident smart guy/scientist character starts explaining things in techno-babble, only for another character to interrupt with, "English, please?" Can we ever get a smarty-pants character on a team who knows how to communicate with laypeople effectively? The snake expert from Snakes On a Plane is the only one I remember!

I think the Snake expert was taken this episode. Kind of a big deal.

:P

OT:
Pretty much how I feel about the show, but it's already looking like I'm not going to stop watching it. I'm not really a comic-book (or at least new universe fluff) nut, so I can't really get excited and start looking up potential enemies because it kind of kills the surprise.

Seneschal:
I cannot express how glad I am at the show's "90s-ness"; it definitely wouldn't look out of place alongside Xena and the X-Files. I haven't been the biggest fan of the tense, breathless, season-long plots custom-made to give every episode a cliffhanger that have been trending since 2004 - they can be effective, but keeping up with more than two such shows saps all of my attention.

I prefer the episodic style that S.H.I.E.L.D. is going for. Not that 90s-style plots couldn't be terrible (Brannon Braga's Terra Nova is a good modern example of how NOT to do a monster-of-the-week show), but S.H.I.E.L.D. is doing it justice. I'm still worried (justifiably, based on some of the comments) that modern audiences don't really want something like that. The ratings probably plummeted this week, though I haven't checked.

To be fair, the big thing that seems to be happening with this show is several continuous story-arcs that get resolved later down the road in the stead of typical "CLIFFHANGER, OMG YOU GOTTA KEEP WATCHING TO GET THE... NEXT CLIFFHANGERRR!!!!!" as you put it. Maybe it's trying to appeal to multiple types of people, but either way it's more interesting that way, at least to me.

Ferisar:

To be fair, the big thing that seems to be happening with this show is several continuous story-arcs that get resolved later down the road in the stead of typical "CLIFFHANGER, OMG YOU GOTTA KEEP WATCHING TO GET THE... NEXT CLIFFHANGERRR!!!!!" as you put it. Maybe it's trying to appeal to multiple types of people, but either way it's more interesting that way, at least to me.

It seems to me it's doing the Fringe/X-Files thing of appending snippets of the myth arc in every episode, even if they're totally self-contained mysteries-of-the-week, and then when they reach critical-snippet-mass, you get a myth arc episode that's all about the "main" story. At least I hope that's what it's doing, since I loved how Fringe did it.

I preferred the pilot. The story of this episode was yawn-inducing and the plottwists one could see come from miles away.

Thankfully the interesting characters and dialogue keep me entertained. I want to see more original storytelling though. So far this show is crossing off every single cliché and trope they can find. Including the inevitable romance between the tough guy and pretty girl. Ugh.

I never really get these TV episode "reviews". The writer spends almost all of it providing a synopsis for the events in the episode - after warding away people who haven't seen it with the warning of SPOILERS - and then includes their actual thoughts as a footnote. I mean, is this really a review? A pretty shoddy standard if it is.

And the Escapist isn't exclusively weird in this regard - I've seen lots of other episode "reviews" do the same thing. Pretty much the only part of them worth reading is the last paragraph, where they actually state whether the thought it was a good episode or not and the reason for that opinion.

On topic, I watched the first two episodes back-to-back (which is how they aired here in Australia) so I can't really separate the two in my mind, but I do remember liking the second episode more because it had a lot more character development and team dynamics, which is what Whedon is reputed for.

Falseprophet:

One slight tangent, though. I am so tired of those conversations where the resident smart guy/scientist character starts explaining things in techno-babble, only for another character to interrupt with, "English, please?" Can we ever get a smarty-pants character on a team who knows how to communicate with laypeople effectively? The snake expert from Snakes On a Plane is the only one I remember!

That's actually truth in television. People who are part of a profession and deeply educated, such as smart people in a field where they only have others like themselves for company, gets so used to speaking in their own "lingo" that it becomes their default state.
Just look at doctors or lawyers, sometimes they might as well speak latin, it's because they are so used to speaking like that, that they forget that people outside their field lacks the knowledge to understand what the hell they are saying.

It takes something special to escape from that stereotype. Your snake expert was an exception.

Coulson keeps mentioning Tahiti as a "Magical Place"... I think the people who brought up a possible Dr. Strange or necromantic connection may not have been far off.

What if Coulson's a zombie?

The episode felt a bit bland to me. A generic 'Problem of the week'. A little soon for that IMHO. Also, I already see the two scientists are going to get seriously annoying and their interaction with 'normal people' ('In English please') as well as between them won't be very fun unless it gets changed dramatically.

I hope the series won't sink into the typical Whedon style of '1 in 5-10 episodes awesome, the rest bland filler' but I am worried. Whedon works best when he only has a limited length to work with (see: Dollhouse season 2).

But hey, optimism.

Coulson is a powerful and likable character because his is a normal guy. He makes his way through this world populated by super-heroes and larger than life characters and so we relate to him. If they decide to turn him into a robot or a decoy, some magical concoction or other such nonsense I believe that will rob the character of the very spark that makes us like and gravitate to him.

Also, this show needs to cool it with the side references to the movies. We get it. Tell your own story. You don't need to keep reminding us of those other cool things. BE the cool thing.

I'm definitely over the whole "I'm in" plot hooks. I've seen a few shows do this recently, and none of them are real hooks because none of them involve characters that you would be surprised to find out are trying to get "in". I would take this as mildly interesting if she immediately shops her group in when they are ready to make their big (probably season arc) move...

Joss Whedon was only there for the pilot. Now Jebb is the Whedon in control. So do not expect this to get much attention from Joss anymore as he is pretty busy.

As for this episode, they actually identify the weakest part of the show - the kids. Then they proceed to do nothing about it. In fact, Coulson says that just giving them a common enemy is all that it would take to turn them into a team. If that weak writing is the best they can do, this is going to be another Revolution. They need to treat is like Buffy, not a slapstick CW show.

Errors that jumped off the screen and poked me in the eye
Cavalary breaks her wrist to get out of the cuffs? Not possible since the wrist is not actually the part that prevents the cuffs from coming off, it is the thumb. She also proceeds to use the wrist for the rest of the episode.

The inflatable raft plugging the jagged hole? It even has a rip in the bottom left corner, and never makes a proper seal (the edge bounces for the whole shoot).

The only Shield weapon demonstrated in this episode is the Serenity (movie) staff concussion grenade. Why is none of that kind of tech available on the jet (or any time else). Why were their no automated defenses (like stun gas). After all that is what Shield is known for.

The two Wesleys (biochem and engineering) are seriously annoying. Half their techno-babble is just that in this episode. At least for the pilot the science was well written, but in this episode - not so much.

Lobbing a tesseract (or even the energy from one) into the Sun is a colossally bad idea. Add the Gamma from the sun to the power cell and suddenly we have a solar prominence heading in the general direction of the planet, as the cell detonates. Especially when Shield already has these types of weapons (Avengers - the one Coulson used against Loki).

Finally, the hacker is flown to a class A restricted site and still has cell service that is not going through Shield routers?

I am still going to give it another few episodes to see if it can find it's post-Joss feet, but even with Joss, the pilot was mediocre. Starting to develop plot holes by episode 2 just brings back bad memories of Revolution. I really, really want to like this. So I am just writing this off as a single bad episode and waiting until next week.

Is it just me or is it obvious that Coulson was resurrected by the Asgardians (as neural cloning is far too advanced for Shield) with Tahiti being the code word for Asgard. If Shield had cloned him, then no one else can truly die (think Avengers), and that takes all the thrill out of it. Hell, if they can clone then Fury can get a new eye (or two - it never hurts to have a backup)!

Is it me or does Joss Whedon not understand what Gamma radiation is?
It's not magic plot juice, it's the regular kind of radiation that comes from radioactive elements.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_radiation
I first had my doubts about his knowing what it was in the Avengers with this line "Nothing dangerous, just light amounts of Gamma radiation" light amounts can still give you cancer.

Well... This ain't no Warehouse 13 (since that was the first thing I thought of right when this episode's plot started), but it will do for now... even thought the only thing that truly caught my "undivided" attention was...


...Other than that, I'll keep it locked until something else ends up distracting me and I forget to record the next episode... (only to watch it live, anyway...)

Makabriel:
Good analysis, Bob. I wholeheartedly agree on the amount of "quipping" that's going on in the show. It's just wading too deep in it and it makes it hard to take the show seriously at times..

One thing I'd like your opinion on, if possible.. What did you think of Fury's remark to Coulson about "Trading you in for a Winnebago?" It kinda step in line with your idea of Coulson being a robot or android of some sort..

He didn't say "trade you in for" he said "bust you down to a" as in he'll take the plane away and give him a Winnebago as his mobile command center instead.

edit: That'll teach me to read the whole thread first. Sorry about that as I see someone else already corrected you.

I like to think Coulson is another try at the Captain America serum and he was the kid in the street in the Cap movie, so he has extendedly long age. Also, saying Tahiti is a magical place, makes me hope for some Dr Strange loving. And could Rising Tide be HYDRA?

I hate to be "that guy", but I don't think I'm alone when I say that I don't find the characters interesting, and the whole episode was about (unsuccessfully) trying to convince the audience that they were.

Also, is it just me, or does everyone in the show have brown hair?

I'm hoping the show picks up because I really want to like it.

good call Bob, on the whole Coulson thing. Its kinda the vein I was going on too ever since I heard this show was post-Avengers. I swear, the ability to Geek out on cinema/comic-verse knowledge is very meta, and unnerving at times and the fact that Joss Whedon is the seeming architect here just feels like a fan-fiction dream... Can I wake up yet? If it is, do I want to?

I'm really not enjoying much of this show. Well, they do alright hand to hand fight scenes I have to give them that one. The Nick Fury cameo was helarious. The rest is eye-rolling, toe-cringing slapstick-teenage-drama-dribble.

Is it just me or does this show come across as insanely cheesy at times. I liked the first episode. I really did. The second one well... I tried REALLY hard to like it. I just didn't. I didn't even know there was a Samuel Jackson cameo till I read about it online since I kinda just switched channels the second that weird weapon was shot into space.

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