First off, can we dispense with the bloated title, complete with punctuation? From this point on, the show is called Agents of Shield on this blog.
I assume most people made up their minds about whether to watch this show before it aired. If you like Marvel comics, or, more importantly, if you like Joss Whedon, you are going to give this series a chance. If Marvel means nothing to you, if you aren’t quite sure who Joss Whedon is, then I imagine you’ll find something else to watch. Agents of Shield is at least momentarily critic-proof. Lots of critical hosannas might get the show a bit more attention, and a bunch of pans might turn potential fans away in advance. But basically, it will take a lot more than one episode for Joss fans to give up (I can’t speak for Marvel fans).
A couple of days before the premiere, I thought about my own Joss Whedon fandom. I began from the position that I wasn’t that big of a fan … certainly not compared to the hardcore. I never watched Angel, which is usually what I trot out when I’m distancing myself from his work. Buffy was my favorite, but I came late to it, not tuning in until Season Three. I passed on Firefly until it was released on home video … I found I liked it, and I liked Serenity even more, but the hardcore fans were out in front on that one. Finally, I jumped on Dollhouse from the beginning, which might have been a mistake, since Season One wasn’t very good. But the season ended well, the extra episode included on home video was promising, and Season Two was the best TV Joss since Buffy.
And I haven’t said anything about Dr. Horrible (thought it was fun), Cabin in the Woods (liked it a lot, although it wasn’t entirely his), or Much Ado About Nothing, which is my favorite Movie Joss of them all.
So yeah, I’m a fan.
When you’re a fan, you don’t mind some of the repeating trademarks. Certainly it was fun to hear Joss Whedon dialogue again on TV. There are ass-kicking women … I particularly appreciated Ming-Na Wen, who showed that you could be a 49-year-old woman and still be an ass-kicker. I can’t tell from the pilot if J. August Richards will stick around, but it would be nice to have a black character.
I felt the explanation for the appearance of Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson was clever in a proper look-at-what-we-did way (Coulson died in The Avengers movie). It seems at first like a unique take on the superhero genre, to focus on a bunch of people with no superpowers. On the other hand, it’s familiar ground for Whedon (Buffy was surrounded by “regular” folks, although as the series progressed, they became witches and such).
Agents of Shield may not have knocked my socks off in the pilot, but it didn’t have to … as I noted above, Whedon has a lot of goodwill from his audience, we’re happy to let him take his time. Perhaps this is best shown by the simple fact that I’m not a fan of these kinds of shows, but I’m excited about Agents of Shield, because he is involved. Grade for pilot: B+.