Posted by Mark Bridge On October - 7 - 2013 11 Comments

With two episodes out for Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.l.D., I gotta say that I’m really disappointed.  Not in the show, but in the response it has been getting from fans.  It’s as if they never saw a trailer or read the countless interviews from the show’s creators, or even seen a film set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).  There are some who have more subjective criticisms, such as the acting or even the “generic” cast of characters.  I’m on the opposite end of that conversation but I won’t argue with their preference.  This column is more geared towards people who were somehow delusional in what kind of show this would be, and to the ones that are complaining about the very thing they were excited to see in the first place.  I decided to break down their criticism into sections.

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“Too Many Avengers References”

Are you kidding me?!!! It’s a show set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  Why wouldn’t they make reference to characters and events previously established.  What’s even more angering about this complaint is that if it were the opposite case with no mention of the Avengers or anything in that universe, there still would be complaints. Probably from the same people complaining about too many Avengers references.  Look, if this were your first foray into the Marvel universe, then maybe I could see you being overwhelmed by the references. But let’s be honest guys.  At least 90% percent of the audience have seen at least one Marvel Studios film, and judging from the massive box office take of The Avengers, I would say that statement holds true.  Besides, they have been doing these kinda references in comic books for decades.  Welcome to the world of shared universes.

“It’s Not The Show I Was Expecting”

This complaint shocked me the most considering all the press materials that were released prior to the show’s premiere.  I don’t think I’m the smartest person on the planet by any stretch of the imagination, so I don’t think I cracked the code after seeing the show’s trailer and correctly identifying the kind of show that would be airing.  What I saw in the two episode aired were exactly what I was expecting after seeing the trailers and interviews.  You might say that not everyone watches trailers or read interviews.  And to that I say, if they don’t, they weren’t that interested in the show to begin with.  What’s more upsetting is the fact that people who make these complaints often have no answer as to what they were expecting, making them look like even more of a trolling ass.  They are like, “I don’t know, it’s just wasn’t what I was expecting.”  Great conversation starter guys, good job.  And can you believe that they are people who thought this would be the Avengers on TV.  Really guys?  At least be a little realistic with your expectations here.  That’s not to say that we won’t be seeing any member of the Avengers or any new super hero in future episodes.  So far we already have cameos from Maria Hill and SHIELD director himself, Nick Fury.  I’m sure Mr. Stark isn’t too far behind.  And remember.  This is TV.  We won’t see the production value of any of the films on a show airing on ABC.  It just won’t happen.  So relax a bit and enjoy what we do get, which in my opinion looks above what is expected for a TV show.

“I Don’t Like The Tone”

This particular complaint gets my blood boiling.  If you’ve ever seen a film set in the MCU and liked it, I can’t see the basis for this complaint.  Unlike the DC films (The Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel), Marvel films have always had a sense of levity.  And this sense of levity is greatly displayed in films involving Tony Stark.  Joss Whedon wrote The Avengers and the pilot episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  So it would make sense that they would have similar tones.  To me the best kind of series or sagas are the ones that start out light and slowly transition into darker territory.  When the material gets darker after spending some significant time in the light, it makes the turn much more grander in scale and more emotionally involved because you remember where the characters are coming from.   This is something that Joss is known for doing in his previous work.  So don’t expect the the lighter tone to last forever.

“I Don’t Know Where The Show is Going”

They just aired two episodes and certain viewers expect all the characters so far to be open books.  What happened to leaving some mysteries for future episodes?  We already know that Coulson’s return from death will be an ongoing issue, Skye’s affiliation with the Rising Tide is described by Fury as “a problem”, and there is a secret organization out there (AIM?) that could be the overall threat of the season or perhaps series.  The show is described as as partly serialized and partly procedural.  The procedural episodes of the show I suspect will be used to further delve into who each character is, which to me is an awesome way to go given that we have 22 episodes a season to tell a great story.  So with that I say, two episodes aired is a bit too premature to make that complaint.  Give it at least 4 more episodes will ya?

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Look guys.  I’m not saying that we can’t critique things that we are passionate about.  But do so within reason and logic.  We finally get a shared universe on film and on TV and all of a sudden we start to take it for granted.  10 years ago we would be shocked if a project like this was conceived, and we would be eating it all up.  So please, don’t start getting entitled now.  They may take it off the air because of the spread of the unreasonable bad word of mouth and we won’t get to see all the cool stuff I’m sure the show runners have planned.

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  • Daoofgeek

    Completely agree, Mark. I’m not saying the show is perfect by any stretch but it is just what I and, I thought, others wanted. It does a bang up job tying together events of the film and giving us a different perspective from the Avengers. Also, remember folks, no matter how established a character or idea may be, we are only 2 episodes into a new series. I really can’t name any shows that didn’t get better as they went on and I think we’ll see that with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    I especially like your point regarding how a show starting off a bit lighter has a more profound ability to impact us when the tone invariably gets darker. There have already been hints of this (Skye’s ulterior motives, Coulson’s resurrection) with 20 episodes left, there’s plenty of time for those darker transitions.

  • Border

    I have only seen the first episode so far and I’m enjoying the show. I’m not one that reads comics or follows all the superheroes in Marvel so maybe that is why I like the show. The characters each have their own identity and are unique in their own way, especially with having vocal female characters that just aren’t eye candy.

  • Gonne

    Too many references – AoS can be described in terms of a spin-off. A new storyline with new characters in its’ own corner of an existing universe. With other spin-offs, they reference back to the source material, often through characters temporarily visiting and/or permanently moving acoss. However, by episode two, they have set their sights on making their own story. They don’t want to be “just another spinoff”. They want to be a story in their own right.
    I counted twelve Avengers-side references in the second episode. But, simple references isn’t at issue. They could spend their time harvesting from the larger universe, forging new mythos out of old, just as the movies did, but without referencing those same movies.
    Not the expected show – I’m kinda with you on this. Personally I was expecting Stormwatch; Team Achilles; the TV show.
    The tone – This isn’t Joss Whedon’s work. It’s Jed Whedon (and co.)’s work. Joss co-wrote the pilot and then walked away. The “as schedule allows” as you reference in your other piece is euphemistic for “I’m not going to be involved”. If he was, then this would be a different show. The writing is Joss Whedon-lite. It’s bad fan fiction from someone approximating Whedonesque’s voice.
    I would also add that there are three show runners, two of which don’t have the credientials to warrant that position (Jed and his wife) and Jeffery Bell; none of whom have a strong voice in their own right.
    Show’s direction – this is a problem. And yes, by two episodes, there should be a direction. Hell, by the pilot, there should be a direction. But, granted, one can say this is a slow-burning show. But, even slow burning shows have to entertain while they are putting their pieces in place.

    So far, the show has been very humdrum. Whether it’s the points you raised, or the points herein, or something else entirely, something caused a 37% drop in audience from 1.01 to 1.02. If it is people expecting one type of show and being delivered another, then that can be said to be the fault of marketing. Those getting the type of show they were expecting, and being disappointed by the product, well, that’s a fault of the writing.

    Here’s my more involved take on it…
    http://allgonne.blogspot.ie/2013/10/firstfour-agents-of-shield-102.html

    • Musikonica

      The font you chose for your blog makes it necessary to zoom in to at least 120% just to read. Good font for headlines, horrible for articles.

  • Brian Sleider

    I keep forgetting to watch, I thought this was post Avengers, if so, can some one explain whats up with Colsen not being dead?
    I have heard largely positive things about the show thus far. I hope I remember to watch tomorrow.

    • steve c.

      His name is “Coulson” not “Colsen” and it is post Avengers. Sorry…I couldn’t resist irony. Anyways…His being back from the dead is a big secret that I am sure they will drag out for a while. Something about him being sent to Tahiti and it being a magical place. All we really know for now.

      • Brian Sleider

        There is no irony in misspelling a name.

        Thanks for the explanation of what is going on with Coulson.

  • Ian Ferguson Jr.

    It looks like a show that should be on late at night on the sci fi channel only they are allowed to make marvel references……utter dribble!

  • Ralph McQueen

    Here are some explanation Why the hate for AoS.
    Why The S.H.I.E.L.D. Hate?
    “Too Many Avengers References”
    The spinoffs that are successfull quickly form their own identity. NCIS, NCIS: LA and of course Frasier are all spinoffs that, while acknowleged their history wern’t bound by it and you didn’t have to watch the original shows to follow them. otherwise why watch the new when it’s just rehashing the old.
    “It’s Not The Show I Was Expecting”
    Mabey because, even thought they said it would not be 1 superhero/week, people thought ity would be. but more likely because anfter shows like Smallville and Arrow, that were more grounded and “realistic”, that is what was expected.
    Personally my problem is that it was what I expected. While not having the same production level as the movies the characters appeared to come out of a casting minimart with no mystery to them.
    “I Don’t Like The Tone”
    the problem was not the levity but there is no one who can embody the levity. Iron Man had Tony Stark. a millionare who personafied excess and outragiousness and Robert Downey Jr, an actor who excelled in the the role and played it it for every ounce of fun Stark represented. Who can do this in AoS?
    Call it the need for the “Han Solo Effect.”

    “I Don’t Know Where The Show is Going”
    The problem is we can see exactly where the show is going. the characters are so stock they’re cliched. here is a list of some future episodes;(no I haven’t read any of the scripts)
    -We find out Why “The Cavilry” transfered to desk work, probably because she lost someone she cares about during an extraction, and she has to work it out in order to save the team.
    -Fitz and Simmons have to shed their lab coats and go undercover. after making some humorus rookie mistakes the get it together and save the day. After which the team walks away from them after boasting about their success.
    -Mr.”I like to work alone,” agent and cute Superhacker discover they are attracted and want to be together only after she betrays the team to Red Tide and hten finally sees the evil red tide is and helps saves the team. Then a couple of episodes of her gaining back trust. trust will come back in this order, Coulson, Cavilry, Fitz nad Simmons, and finally the heartbroken but still can’t work with her and asks for a transfer.
    To make a long story short; It’s a superhero show without a superhero in it.
    Tinker with the show (mabey introduce a hero in training) move it to a better time slot(Opposite NCIS, The #1 Show! What were they thinking?) and mabey it hase a chance, Like it is and it won’t last one season.

  • Dalinkwent

    The show isn’t perfect, but I too am perplexed by how critical people are of the show and even more as to what their problems are. They basically dislike the show for what it promised to be in the first place. You guys really thought the show was going to downplay its shared universe thing…REALLY? At least the references are actually connected to the plot of the episode for the most part.

  • Interesting to come across this several episodes in. I still have the same complaints about the show. I accept that I had unrealistic expectations about the show, thinking it would be a weekly Avengers. I actually wish they had more connections to the Marvel Universe, not less. I’d like to see some more heroes and villains from the comics. I like your rebuttals, though.