Tuesday, September 24, 2013
Review - Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
It's here! New TV from Joss Whedon (and brother Jed and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharden)! More marvelous Marvel action! Agent Coulson lives! In case you didn't pick up on it, I'm so excited for this new series. Whedon has been behind some of my favorite shows, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly and Angel. And The Avengers is one of the best superhero movies ever. So anticipation for this new series for me is very high. Did the pilot deliver?
The beloved Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg, The New Adventures of Old Christine, The West Wing), who died in last summer's blockbuster hit The Avengers, has been "resurrected" (great little story of his ... but is it the truth? DUM DUM DUM!) and now heads up a specialized team of individuals - Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement, and Logistics Division, a.k.a S.H.I.E.L.D. - to brave the post-Battle of New York world, believing a small team of regular humans, when working together, can make just as much of a difference as those with superpowers.
Fellow S.H.I.E.L.D agents include Grant Ward (Brett Dalton, Army Wives), an expert in combat and espionage; pilot and martial artist Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen, Eureka, ER); Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker, Lip Service), a brilliant engineer; Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), genius bio-chemist; and new recruit Skye (Chloe Bennet, Nashville), a computer hacker.
I smiled right away when the opening scene showed glimpses of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk, followed by a display of their action figures in a local store under the banner "Heroes of New York."
What followed was a whole lot of fun. Pilots have to include exposition since you are walking into a story that you don't often know much about, but Whedon shows does expo so very well - short, succinct and engaging. Right off the bat we are told in a briefing - with Avengers' alum Cobie Smolders - with Agent Ward what the organization is from his perspective:
"It means we're the line between the world and the much weirder world. We protect people from news they're not ready to hear, and when we can't do that, we keep them safe."
Gregg is as quietly and subtly humorous as ever, soft-spoken yet so authoritative. There are familiar Whedon-verse alums present - Angel's J. August Richards and Firefly's Ron Glass. Skye is a Whedon trademark character - fast-talking, quippy, sassy and quite the smart ass, and Bennet plays her well (can't help but think Eliza Dushku may have been up for the role - she and Bennet could be sisters). Fitz and Simmons - rather Fitz-Simmons - provide fast, fun silky (they're British) banter and everyone plays off each other smoothly, like they've been working together for a while.
There's a decent diversity of ages in the cast - Glass at 68, Gregg and Wen in their early 50s (though man, they don't look it, and Wen is a bad-ass!) and the others in their mid-to late 20s - and good racial representation, too.
There's a lot of cool tech (check out the bitchin' plane and command center above!), special effects and stunts featured and the show looks and feels sleek and modern without being obvious. The soundtrack is awesome and the whole show doesn't feel like a TV show, but a mini-feature that will happen to be on TV every week.
I really liked the pilot and I think it's a very strong start to a series I know ABC is greatly counting on to be a hit. Already it has a better chance - after all, it ain't on FOX, which previously cancelled Whedon's Firefly and Dollhouse - and with the combined pedigree of Marvel and Whedon (Yes, I'm a fan, okay?), S.H.I.E.L.D is destined to have a long and prosperous run.
And by the way: Best. Ending. Ever. (Well, one of, anyway ...).
BOTTOM LINE: S.H.I.E.L.D. a spot in your Tuesday night viewing for this terrific adventure series.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.