I’ll try my best to be spoiler free here, but consider this an advanced warning that I might just fail at that.
So last night saw the pilot for Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and with it the return of Agent Coulson to the land of the living. If you were expecting a good explanation of that, well, you get one. It just isn’t the truth. I think that right there is enough of a reason to keep me watching the show since Coulson is the heart of the show. I’ll be honest and say I wasn’t sure a character like Coulson had enough depth to really carry a series even with a team and I think I may have been wrong there. Sure there’s the mystery of why and how he’s alive, but it’s his personality that kept me watching.
One of the problems with taking a character like Coulson and putting him center stage is that usually, the writers alter the character. They flesh them out in all the wrong ways. I’m happy to say that this is the same Phil Coulson that I fell in love with in the Marvel films. He still has a witty and warmth to him that puts you off guard and makes you forget you’re dealing with a guy that could snap your neck like a pencil before you blink. The moments where he breaks that constant calm work. This is a guy who will gladly give you a good natured ribbing until it jeopardizes the mission. That’s when the agent comes out and it’s still the same guy and it works.
The rest of the team is a grab bag. Agent May is a bit one dimensional at the moment. She’s a pilot and she’s tough and she’s all business. Knowing Whedon I’m sure we’ll see another side to this character before long. Fitz and Simmons are part of a fairly recent trend of having a genius from the UK. This time it’s two of them. One British and the other Scottish. And they go collectively as “Fitzsimmons” which is kind of cute. It’s the usual “Oh no! There’s no way we can do this in time!” drama that works until you realize they’ll ALWAYS do it in time.
Agent Ward is possibly my favorite. Not because he’s the dashing hero, but because of his semi-antagonistic relationship with Coulson. It’s very much a comedy duo vibe between these two with Coulson always coming out on top and Ward looking like an idiot. The interrogation scenes are some of the best in the whole pilot.
Skye is probably my biggest problem. In a team with two geniuses, we have the hacker in a van who happens to be cute as a button and so witty and awkward she’s completely unbelievable. She talks a mile a minute with self deprecating humor and bravado. She’s written to be such an interesting and likable character that she immediately turns me off as a character and if that continues unchanged, then we may have a problem here.
The plot isn’t very complicated in the pilot, which is fine since the focus for this is to try and get people interested in the characters. It’s just interesting enough to keep you there but so complicated as to leave you scratching your head. It’s stuffed with references to the Marvel films that might alienate people who didn’t see any of them. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing for people who have seen them either. “Hey! Remember Iron Man and the Hulk?! Yeah. They’re not in this.” I’d rather just have it in passing than sort of slammed in my face. That’s me though.
I think the show was fun, entertaining, and a good ride. Because of that and being produced by Joss Whedon, I full expect the series to last a season. I sincerely hope that I’m wrong on that since I would probably watch Coulson on vacation ordering drinks, but I’ll go ahead and start writing my hate mail to ABC for when they give it the axe just to be on the safe side.