MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.
Airs: Tuesdays at 8/7c on ABC
Premise: Picking up where The Avengers left off, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is resurrected from the presumed dead to lead a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) agents to handle a series of strange cases involving people with super powers.
Behind the Scenes: Fanboy favorite Joss Whedon, who wrote and directed The Avengers and is serving as key creative consultant on all Marvel properties these days, is co-creator of the show (with his wife and brother), and also co-wrote and directed the pilot. Cobie Smulders reprises her Avengers role as Agent Maria Hill - S.H.I.E.L.D. is probably a better use of her time than H.I.M.Y.M. these days.
The Good: The Marvel logo that opens the show sends a clear, early signal to viewers that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. shares a continuity with the film universe, a fact that bears out as the episode progresses. Fans of that universe (myself included) will find plenty to enjoy, as story elements from The Avengers and Iron Man 3 play a big role in the plot here. Bringing back Coulson was a stroke of genius; his return from the dead is quickly explained and accepted. Clark Gregg is such an endearing performer, and he works subtle magic with all of the great lines that Whedon and Co. give him. The character's introduction is definitely a highlight. Equally good is Chloe Bennet as a civilian new recruit and computer hacker. She also seems very adept at Whedon's dialogue. And, let's talk about that dialogue - so much of it bears Whedon's unmistakeable imprint. The smart-alecky lines and witty repartee come at the viewer fast and furious. There's a good bit of mystery introduced about what really happened to Coulson and why he was brought back that should hook viewers.
The Bad: Is it too niche? If people don't give a damn about superheroes or the Marvel Cinematic Universe, will they even tune in? Hard to believe such people exist, but it could happen. Apart from Gregg and Bennet, nobody else on the S.H.I.E.L.D. team really stands out yet. Ming-Na Wen's character is particularly given short-shrift in the pilot. It's a bit jarring to see Whedon limited by a television budget again, when he had every $$ at his disposal on The Avengers.
Stick Around for Next Week?: Yes. This was a fun hour of television that rewards both Marvel and Whedon fans, to the extent those two don't already overlap.
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