Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D: Tuesdays at 8p.m. Eastern on ABC
Premiere week is in full swing, and that means an opportunity to look at the big four’s most hyped new shows for the fall, with a healthy mix of new high-concept dramas (Sleepy Hollow), stars making a triumphant return to television (The Michael J. Fox Show), and new shows from familiar faces (Dad, Mom). For me personally, I think there was, however, no new show that was more hyped or will dictate its’ network’s fortunes more than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ties very closely with the Marvel movie universe, which should come as no surprise as ABC and Marvel share a common parent company in Disney. Joss Whedon once again gets the keys to the car, and he picks up right where The Avengers movie left off, starting with the seemingly unexplained resurrection of Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), a secret agent working for the super-spy group whom died during the Avengers movie. Coulson recruits a new team in order to deal with the villain group the Rising Tide. However, the true promise this series has will be later on, as S.H.I.E.L.D. interacts with the larger movie universe.
ABC blew up it’s Tuesday night reality block to build around this show, so I guess the real questions are: does this show justify the hype, and will this show ultimately provide the sort of return on investment that ABC needs in order to keep this show on the air? Well first and foremost, let me say that the show definitely succeeds in giving off that blockbuster feel. The action scenes are slick and well choreographed, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D doesn’t shy away from showing off the toys from minute one (both of the action figure variety, and the super-spy sort as well).
Tonight’s episode also features some fairly tight writing, deftly weaving exposition into moments that also allow for character dynamics to further development or push the plot along. Furthermore, the twists in the plot line are well executed and set up in a reasonably logical manner (that is to say, you don’t see the twists coming the first time, but when you look back after the fact, it all comes together). Finally in true Whedon-esque (and for that matter a common feature in spy movies as well), we get a fair amount of comedy in our action soup, including one funny visual of a guy getting tossed 50 feet in the air after hitting someone with superpowers in the head with a pipe.
The acting, is what ultimately holds this all together. Particular kudos are to Gregg’s ability to capture Coulson’s unorthodox leadership skills in a manner that maintains a likable manner. Equal praise should be given to J. August Richards, whom in his guest stint in the pilot tears the house down as a desperate man who took to desperate measures and gives a powerful speech in the episodes climax that could have very easily been hammed into super-villainy and add an extra level of humanity that allows for some true empathy from the viewer.
The Final Verdict: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is the sort of blockbuster event show that ABC has yet to find since the finale of Lost. Whedon and company find an ability to juxtapose large effects and small stories to create a series that could sufficiently anchor the Marvel movie universe (and of course throw out cameos for sweeps), but also manage to keep the show light and fun. As a whole I’d recommend checking it out, but I think if you’re into geek culture (as I am prone to be) this can be safely bumped up to almost must watch territory.