September 25, 2013

TV: Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Tue 8, ABC)

Corporate shilling and excessive capitalization be damned: I'm just going to call the show SHIELD and be done with it.

The action picks up shortly after the climactic Battle of New York from the movie The Avengers, as humanity copes with its discovery that there are superheroes among them. The government agency SHIELD is made up of non-super people, and their task is to locate and recruit the superpowered, both to gain access to their skills, and to help them adjust to life as a superperson.

The show gets off to a reasonably good start, cheerfully explaining away the resurrection of Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson (for non-Marvel fans, he died in The Avengers) in a way that clearly doesn't actually explain anything, and leaves his non-death as a mystery to be slowly revealed over the course of the season.

Coulson's team is introduced in efficient fashion, and while none is really a full-rounded person yet, they are given enough individuality that you're never left muttering "which one is he"?. There's Grant Ward (Brett Dalton), the dashing black-ops guy who hates the thought of working as part of a team; Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), who doesn't want to leave her comfy desk job and go back into the field, and only agrees to go when Coulton promises that all she'll have to do is "drive the bus;" Skye (Chloe Bennett), the team's newest recruit, a gifted computer hacker. Effective comic relief is provided by the tech team of Fitz and Simmons (Iain De Castecker and Elizabeth Henstridge), who complete one another's sentences and think so much alike that everyone just calls them FitzSimmons.

As good as the pilot is, though, I can't shake the nagging feeling that there just isn't much here. I worry that the show will devolve into a lightly comic version of The X Files, which a new super-powered freak brought on as the villain every week. And since Joss Whedon isn't going to be involved with the show on a week-to-week basis, I'm skeptical that the bantering dialogue will be good enough to hold my attention for long. I'm in for now, but I have my doubts.

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