Once More, With Secrecy

Warning: If you haven’t seen the pilot episode of ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., this post may contain spoilers.

Ah, fall. Where basic network TV shows welcome you back to your couch for three hours of your night, if not more. The time where favorite shows return, and people make snap judgements on pilots. Hasn’t anyone ever taught them you should not always judge a show by its pilot? A pilot is a wonderful thing: It helps networks decide whether to pick up a show, but that doesn’t mean it will be perfect.

Agents of SHIELD was a great pilot. Sure there was a certain amount of cheese factor to it, but it is a good family show from the Whedon brothers, Joss and Jed. (Jed Whedon’s wife and creative partner, Maurissa Tancharoen, is also a co-writer and co-executive producer.) For example, when Phil Coulson comes out of the dark and says he thinks a light bulb might be out, it works because of Clark Gregg’s delivery. Of course there will be cheese, but the good kind, like Velveeta.

It is the kind of show that requires multiple viewings for the viewer to catch all the details put into it. The identifier which recognized Coulson, Maria Hill, and Grant Ward told them to “say cheese.” I got a thrill when I heard it the first time and immediately rewound just to make sure I had heard correctly. I love it when a show pays attention to detail.

I also love the fact that a new viewer who hasn’t seen the Marvel superhero films would not be lost. Yes, there were several Easter Eggs in explaining the background for the avid Marvel fan, but it worked in a way that included both long-time fans and new viewers.

Casting is always a big deal with me, and the show has done an excellent job. There were some familiar faces from the Whedonverse, like J. August Richards (Gunn on Angel) and Ron Glass (Shepherd Book on Firefly/Serenity), but they were there because they are excellent actors. I enjoyed seeing Glass, who played the doctor for S.H.I.E.L.D., and I hope we get to see more of him. Also, Richards (Gunn) did an excellent job of putting emotion into the character of Mike Peterson. The father-son relationship was great, and the way Mike cared for his son was moving.

The decision to include Cobie Smulders in the pilot was beyond brilliant. It makes this feel more like home for Avengers fans, and Cobie is an awesome actor. Her interplay with Coulson brought familiarity, and I can’t wait until she reappears on the show again. Why did this have to be the year she’s getting married on How I Met Your Mother? Of course, this is HIMYM’s final season, so hopefully we will see more of her next year, if Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D gets another season.

Fitz and Simmons are adorable. They are the lab techies of the show, with Fitz being the genius in engineering, and Simmons in biochemistry.  They are a team, but they have their own personalities. I enjoyed their brother and sister interactions a great deal. It felt real, especially with them trying to talk over the other one.

Finally, the return of Son of Coul. Clark Gregg is the best part of this show. His character brings a big human element to a show about superhumans, geniuses, and gods. His character was already one of my favorites, and my love for him has already grown deeper with watching this pilot. I was entertained by everything he did, from the jokes to his affection for all of the other characters. I’m glad Joss Whedon brought him back from the dead, but after the conversation Hill had with the Doctor, I know all is not right. Perhaps Tahiti is apparently not all it is cracked up to be. I will probably want to cry once the truth is revealed later. For now, I’m going to push it to the back of my mind and celebrate the fact that Coulson is back with his beloved Lola.

Joss Whedon and company are known for character-driven shows; he writes characters with depth. I think it’s what he does best. This show will definitely be primarily about the characters, and less about the different situations they face week to week. The majority of the main characters have already received hints on their backgrounds with this show, and it will be interesting to see them delved into further.

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