By D. Lanier Shook September 26, 2013
Where were you at 8 p.m. EST on Tuesday night? If you’re like millions of Americans you were watching Marvel Comics and ABC present Agents of SHIELD. If you weren’t, I’m here to tell you why you should have been. You’re about to get Ten reasons why you should watch it next week.
CAVEAT: I’ve only seen one episode. Things could change, but this is my review from the vantage point I’m sitting at.
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE SHOW
1. It’s honest
The show’s title is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and that’s exactly what it is. Even though the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division is part of the Marvel Universe the show is just about the Strategic Homeland… umm, SHIELD. You shouldn’t expect to see the Hulk or Iron Man or Thor. The show is about SHIELD.
CAVEAT: That’s not to say you won’t get guest appearances by superheroes. I suspect somebody may make one or two occasionally.
2. It’s about Agent Coulson
If you’ve watched Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor, or The Avengers then you remember the mild mannered character that Clark Gregg did so well, Phil Coulson. Agents of SHIELD is about Phil Coulson. More specifically, its about a team he’s assembled to handle the revelation that superheroes are among us.
This isn’t a bad thing. Clark Gregg does a great job of understated humor. His character is a likeable civil servant. The first episode reinforced this with lines like “Nobody’s nobody.”
3. You don’t have to be a comic book (or Avengers) fan to enjoy the show
This show doesn’t appear to be about the comic book universe. Without spoiling the first episode for those who haven’t seen it, it’s about family and helping people. The show is about a quasi-secret government team traveling around the country (in a really cool C-17) handling sensitive situations that could easily get out of control.
Will the comic book universe show up? Yes. But I suspect that will be less than 33% of the show.
WHY AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. IS A GREAT SHOW
1. It’s well written
Joss Whedon is a great writer with a series of hits both on the small and big screens. He’s bringing all the tools to the table and this time Disney is paying for some really good tools. The first episode included subplots to be explored later, interpersonal conflict/chemistry to be explored, and great lines like “Nobody’s nobody.” (Another great interchange was “Technically Thor’s not a god.” “You haven’t been near his arms.”) I liked “This is where you make the red tape, isn’t it.”
2. It’s well acted
Disney’s pulled in a great set of talent to crew the show. The chemistry between the actors seems to be incredible. I’m not sure how much these folks are being paid, but the first episode indicates they’re worth every cent.
3. It’s a Goldilocks show — not too Marvel, but just enough Marvel
If you’re someone who doesn’t like comic books then you should still be able to watch this show. I mentioned it before, but the Marvel universe only intruded slightly into the first episode. On the other hand, if you are a fan of the Marvel universe, you’ll enjoy the understated references to the Marvel universe.
This is a show like little bear’s porridge, chair, and bed in the Goldilocks story. Its not too much Marvel, not too little Marvel, but just right.
WHY YOU SHOULD WATCH THE SHOW
1. Its just similar enough to other shows you probably already watch
One issue Agents of SHIELD faces is its “comic book” association. While this will attract about sixty percent of the viewing public, it won’t necessarily attract the other forty percent. That’s why I keep bringing this up
Joss Whedon is a genius and so are the folks at Disney. They want a show that belongs on ABC. They want a show that appeals to a broad audience without alienating the core fan group. And that’s what they’ve done.
At its heart this is a show about a team of government experts who travel around the country, dealing with highly sensitive situations. That could describe alot of other shows. Criminal Minds is a good example. NCIS, Bones, CSI, and JAG are other good examples.
Check out Agents of SHIELD. Watch one or two episodes. If you don’t like it then don’t watch anymore. But at least check it out.
2. It’s funny, but not too funny
You won’t find a laugh track on this show, but there are moments where one might fit in. The interrogation scene in the first episode is a good example. The description of Agent Ward’s people skills is another. Its a light-hearted show. ( “What do you think when you think of SHIELD?” “I think somebody really worked hard to come up with an acronym.”)
3. Its on broadcast, not cable
Let’s send broadcast television a message. If you go out of your way to put a great show out there, we will watch it. For me, this is Agents of SHIELD but for you it might be another one. ABC (and, to be fair, other broadcast networks) have lots of great shows, so lets reward them so they’ll keep them coming. That way we can see great shows without paying a tax to national networks that you might not even watch.
4. It has likeable characters with good chemistry
The best part of this show are the characters. They aren’t stereotypes, they’re people and they have a good chemistry. Joss Whedon has done a great job creating them and a great job casting them.