With the popularity of the Marvel Comics films and, in particular Joss Whedon’s ensemble piece, The Avengers, it was with no surprise that I received the news that Whedon was creating a new television series based on S.H.I.E.L.D. featuring Agent Phil Coulson. Do not get me wrong, I greeted the news with fangirl excitement and may have released a squeal of delight at the thought of another Whedon television series with Buffy and Firefly a distant memory. Also, who doesn’t love Agent Coulson?
It started off with a little bit of exposition reminding us of the events of The Avengers and the “outing” of the Hulk, Captain America, etc. to the world and nicely framed in the window of a toy shop featuring action figures of said heroes. Not before long we encounter an explosion, action and the sight of our first hero ably portrayed by J August Richards (Buffy and Angel) as Mike Peterson, a down and out factory worker who believes he has found the answer to his problems.
We are then introduced to the main players of the series in the form of Agent Ward (Brett Dalton), Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), Agent May (Ming-Na Wen), Agent Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), Agent Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) and, finally, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) whose first appearance in the show was brought about with familiar humour. The cast also features other actors familiar to fans of the Whedon-verse.
Tonight’s storyline centred mainly on events that brought Skye (Chloe Bennett), a civilian with a talent for hacking, to the attention of S.H.I.E.L.D. with the ultimate result that she decides joins the organisation. It had a great mix of drama, humour, geeky in-jokes and references. There is also little bit of darkness hinting that something is not quite as straightforward as it appears with Coulson’s revival from the edge of death. The script was slick and rapid with good pacing and the cast appearing to gel well together. For car porn fans there is a lovely addition in the form of Lola, Coulson’s 1962 C1 Series Corvette convertible. Not only is it a splash of brightness on screen, it has more under its hood than they initially let on.
The cast were comfortable in their roles and appeared to relish them with Gregg and Smulders making a welcome return to their roles. The characters themselves, whilst appearing to play to stereotypes at time still retained enough mystery to keep you wanting more.
Interestingly, I note that it does not appear that S.H.I.E.L.D. had a great budget if the sets and CGI were anything to go by. Whilst unfair to expect Hollywood style effects and sets I have seen better on other television shows and expected better from a show that is based within the universe of a number of hugely successful blockbuster films. We have to remember we have only just seen the pilot so maybe this will improve as the series carries on.
Overall, I was riveted and remained entertained throughout. Whilst still a little rough here and there with the visuals there is no doubt that I will continue to follow this show having been hooked already with hints at future reveals and the expansion of character back stories. I believe it will keep fans of the Marvel Universe films happy until the next blockbuster in the form of Thor: The Dark World released on 8th November 2013. Also, with the conclusion of Breaking Bad fast approaching will this help fill the void?
For US viewers, you can watch on ABC on Tuesday nights at 8pm Eastern/7pm Central.
For UK viewers, you can watch on Channel 4 on Friday nights at 8pm with repeats on Saturdays at 7pm.