Tapping My Nose at S.H.I.E.L.D.
My Tuesdays were to be exciting this year with the announcement that Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. and Supernatural were going to be airing on the same day. I am just glad that New Girl is online, but I was willing to make that sacrifice for Whedon and my boys. I haven’t been this excited about a Tuesday, since they aired Angel right after Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But alas, I am now firmly planted upon the fence that sits between love and loathe when it comes to Whedon’s newest television endeavor.
Agents of S.H.E.I.L.D. is kind of a radical concept in film and television. We have had television shows before that were adaptations of a film or simply spinoffs or continuations of one. This show stands out, because it sits outside of the normal film to television construct. It is a spinoff choosing to focus on one of the more important aspects of the Marvel movies that has yet to be fully explored. The presence of S.H.I.E.L.D. is in every Marvel movie that has been made, and now we simply get to learn more about them. But why is that so unique? The world that the show exists in is the very world that the Marvel movies exist in. What happens in this show can effect what happens in Marvel movies to come, and vice versa.
I have yet to see any kind of ripples from the show make it into the movies, but that is okay for now. It isn’t a device that should be taken lightly or overused. It will take away from making the show its own. What the series is currently developing into its own is what I am having issues with. Being that it is the first season, which can be rough for any new show, and that it is a Whedon production are the only two reasons I am honestly sticking around to see what happens.
When any new television show is being introduced my first question to ask is could this show be interesting for five seasons. It doesn’t mean that a show will get five seasons, but it has to move forward. This question only needs a yes or no answer and should be found in the very first episode. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. clearly defined its intentions in its first episode as a specially assigned group of people out to find the extraordinary, a concept vague enough to be answered in hundreds of ways throughout five seasons.
Then we have to have people to care about and connect with, a reason to continue to tune in weekly. We already have Coulson, a beloved character from the films. His familiarity brings us in along with the question of his mere existence, since the last time we saw him was his death scene. Unfortunately, one man cannot do the show by himself. He has to have some kind of support, which comes in the shape of his chosen team.
Now we have a cast that is mostly new to fans and needs to be developed. We also have a beloved character whose questionable existence cannot be answered immediately or the draw of the show will be lost. We also have well known superheroes that exist in the world and could very well pop up. Everyone would love to have Tony Stark constantly barge in and irritate the S.H.E.I.L.D. agents, but how would we get a chance to care about the show and continue watching it on the episodes he did not. While I assume and hope that these characters will make appearances in the show it will be rare and only for exceptionally big events. Outside of quick cameos by Maria Hill and Nick Fury, cameos that honestly couldn’t really be avoided too long considering their place in the organization, the show has only made well placed comments or dealt with connected issues concerning the characters and movies like the quick opening scene cleaning up the mess in England left over by Thor after the events in the second film.
The show has really done a great job not leaning on these easy tactics that would guarantee instant viewers. It has been focusing on building the characters. Unfortunately, that is all it has been doing, and we only really know half of them. The problem I have with the season so far is a clear overall focus. Yes, we have had to track down relics and stop them from getting into the wrongs hands in each episode, but there is yet to be a clear pull that we are looking forward to being resolved or flipped over by the end of the season. Not only is it unclear, but there could be more than one avenue they choose to follow from what has been aired so far. Being halfway through the season, we should have some idea by now.
Does this mean that there is no hope left for this show? Absolutely not. It could very well be suffering from common first season afflictions, where shows test out characters and plot devices trying to latch onto those that work and remove that which does not. We as an audience play a massive role in what happens, because believe or not writers and creators do listen to the audience. They are not going to give you full creative control, but they are very aware that if you don’t watch, they can’t keep making the show. We are very powerful when it comes to our favorite televisions shows. If they didn’t listen to us, Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Castiel from Supernatural would have only been in one or two episodes. We are the reason they had many more.
What I am hoping for in the last half of this season is a direction of what is going to carry us to the end. If this happens, then I guarantee one hell of a cliffhanger that will force us back for season two’s premier. I want this show to succeed. As a comic book fan, S.H.I.E.L.D. was everywhere, meaning this show has so many stories to tell. It is not closed off to one teenager’s hard realizations about responsibility. They have full access to all of the possible stories from the comic world as well as being completely believable with anything new they come up with. Because of this, there is no reason for this show not to succeed. As a Marvel fan and a Whedon fan I will probably hang on regardless of quality till the end, because I am loyal. I just don’t want that to be the only reason.