Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. episode 1 review: Pilot

Review James Hunt 26 Sep 2013 - 06:59

James has some reservations about Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s pilot, which isn't an unqualified success...

This review contains spoilers.

1.1 Pilot

As the first televisual outing by Marvel Studios, there was always going to be a lot riding on the pilot episode of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Off the back of critical smashes like the Avengers movie and Iron Man 3, it needed to show that the magic could be translated to the small screen. It needed to look slick, move fast and have a story so tight you'd struggle to slide a piece of paper into the cracks. And perhaps, with expectations that high, it's no surprise that it struggled just a little to meet them.

It's certainly not a bad piece of TV – the plot mostly makes sense, the cast is mostly good, and there's an undeniable thrill in seeing the likes of Coulson and Hill on screen outside the movies. But it's also not as good as it should have been: it looks a little economical, the pace is meandering, and it doesn't seem to know what story it's actually trying to tell. There are moments in which it shines – when plot clichés are slickly inverted, when the dialogue is rapid-fire and Whedonesque, and when it follows up the movies directly - but there are problems with it too. Problems that can't be ignored.

A small one is the show's look. Expecting blockbuster-style visuals wouldn't be fair, but this barely competes with the look of TV shows from years ago. The CGI is sub-Smallville, the costumes are ill-fitting and bland, and the sets feel cramped, dull, and worst of all, homogenous with a thousand other TV shows about People Who Investigate Things (using tediously-ubiquitous holographic-interface computers). On their own, any of these failings would be forgivable, but together they makes the show look tentative, like the paymasters were afraid to spend any real money making it.

Perhaps the biggest problem, though, is that having chosen to set the TV series in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we don't see it expand that world in ways that actually take advantage of its unique position. Appreciating we're just at episode one, rather than establishing its legitimacy by adapting an existing concept from Marvel's stable, or even expanding on an existing one, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. does the exact opposite. In a very literal way, all it can do is remix the MCU's existing elements. It doesn't examine or explore these concepts, they're just there to make your ears prick up. Coulson aside, all we see are easter eggs of varying sizes.

There are glimpses of greatness, primarily in the script. When Michael makes his speech at the end, which posits that "we were told it was enough to be a man, but now there are super-men" absolutely works as a motivation for his character and encapsulates what it must feel like to live a world where science-fiction has become real. It's a shame that they waited until the end of the episode to deliver that idea – what clearly should've been the story's hook – but at least it was present at all.

There's also a reasonable amount of charisma in the cast, if not a lot of actual character to go with it. Black-ops specialist Agent Ward is about as interesting as a glass of tepid water, his lone note interrupted only by a moment of (drug-induced) candour part-way through the episode. Computer hacker Skye feels like a stock Whedon bad girl (Eliza Dushku was presumably unavailable) and although she can do comedy, she struggles with the few weightier moments she's handed. Science bods Fitz & Simmons are essentially walking exposition machines which use accents to paper over the cracks.

As it happens, veteran SHIELD agent Melinda May is the only genuinely intriguing new creation – an ass kicker who hung up her ass-kicking boots, drawn back into the field by Coulson. I want to know why she quit. I want to know why Coulson wants her back. And I want to know how she feels about him manipulating her into coming back. The episode would've been greatly improved if the economy shown to her introduction had been applied to the other agents. We spent more time with them and somehow know less for it.

The pilot does leave us with some dangling plot threads to think about. The true nature of Coulson's "resurrection" is the most gripping, the motivations of various shady organisations, less so. When the credits roll you aren't thinking about any of these things, though. You're thinking about the opportunities they missed. The material they could've used, but chose not to. The characters you'd have liked to have seen, but didn't. No-one's expecting Robert Downey Jr. to swagger through a scene in full armour, but couldn't we at least pretend that's a possibility? Or how about Samuel L. Jackson in for a one-scene cameo? It does seem at this early stage that there's a gap between what the makers of this series want and what its audience wants. That may be a good thing longer term, of course.

For that's not to say there isn't time to turn this boat around. Whedon's last TV series, Dollhouse, went from being a problematic network-controlled failure to a smart and original sci-fi series over the course of half a season, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is starting from a better place already. But if you were hoping for a perfect launch, that ship has sailed. We'll no doubt return for episode two, but off the back of this, we'll at least know to be a little more cautious next time.

Marvel's Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. continues next Tuesday the 31st on ABC in the US, and begins in the UK on Friday the 27th of September, both at 8pm.

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I'm not sure how the reviewer thinks it is possible to fit all of that into a 42 minute pilot which has the primary mission of setting up it's own characters and show - not trying to be Avengers 1.5. I had extremely high expectations of this show, and the worst I can say is that the opening couple of frames (the scenes of people crossing the street) was re-used from the opening of Dollhouse. And a couple of times there was a joke about a joke without letting the first one breathe. But that is it. I was impressed with Ward, his "your fireplace is broken" line was genius. Fitz and Simmons may be a mystery but one I am eager to learn more about. Skye did well with her cocky attitude that was quickly found to be a brave front.

Episodes 2-5 will really show what the show is capable of. And I believe it will be great.

While the pilot wasn't as great as it could've been, Whedon's shows have always tended to be ones that grow over time rather than starting out perfect. Outside of Firefly I feel his pilots tend to be fairly standard with the characters and set-up still needing some work (in the first episode of Buffy the characters seem more like generic high-school cliches than the well rounded individuals, with their own voices, that they will become.)
The cliches tend to be subverted over a few episodes as he works out each character, so it is not surprising this is just a building block (hopefully to greater things.)

Whedon has a reputation for false starts. The only opening episode that I can remember enjoying from a first series was Buffy and it wasn't that great. Angel was a bit of a mess with one of the few highlights being when Angel throws Russell out of the window making a new enemy Wolfram and Hart. Firefly didn't have an amazing first episode either but it was one of the better ones. Dollhouse had pretty slow start as well. I guess that the point I'm trying to make is that many shows on average tend to peak on series 2 or 3. Whedon's shows like Buffy and Angel didn't really get going until about series 2 and both peaked much later. If the pilot is not that great, I'll still watch it because I know for sure that it will improve and even if some of the cast aren't up to the challenge, he can always kill them off.

OK I get it, expectations lowered accordingly

Its a freakin' pilot dude. How many pilots do you know that are 100% perfect? How many pilots have less than perfect CGI, - Fringe had some dodgy CG moments through out the entire show, and it was still awesome! How many pilots are used as a character set ups and establishing character position and story treads - I'd say every single one!
Of course its a possibility for RDJ or Sam Jackson to appear on the show. Don't you think they'd like to build up to that moment rather than saying ''coming next week, Nick fury is furious when Coulson walks in on him in the bathroom'' or whatever, you get the point.

Sorry James, but I think this review is wrong. You cannot expect to have everything mentioned above in a single episode. This is NOT the Avengers, its a series. There is plenty of time to do all the things you mentioned above. The show did a decent job of throwing together the premise and cast, and still have time to do a decent story. Dialogue was typical slick, funny and whedon-esque, and I thought the sets and FX were just fine for TV.

If I had any criticism, it was that the characters were likeable, but too cliched. Everyone was ridiculously good looking (hackers do not look like supermodels). I'm hoping Joss will subvert some of those stereotypes are the series goes on. It also had the usual hackers=magicians trope going on. I'm willing to forgive these points though because its the marvel universe. Everyone has always been ridiculously good looking in comics, and tech DOES equal magic in the marvelverse.

Also, I was disappointed that the super-guy didn't turn out to be an established character. A lot of people thought he was going to be Luke Cage, but if they didn't want to use him, they could have made him Rage or something.

It wasn't realistic or gritty, but it was a lots of fun. It felt like the sort of action based show that I used to watch on a Saturday evening when I was a kid (like Knight Rider or the A Team), but with better dialogue. I'm looking forward to watching this with my nephews and nieces

I can't be alone in feeling like I had seen this before - a mix of a retread of Iron Man 3 scenes and Alphas. It just felt very pedestrian Coulson excluded

INB4 Whedon fanboys start throwing hissy fits... too late.

It was alright. Didn't have the punch to make me go "wow, what a great new show!" like Sleepy Hollow surprisingly did. There is way, way too much tech in it, absurdly so, to the point that I was rolling my eyes. Melinda May, though, is probably the most interesting thing about the show. For such a second-fiddle role, she is the one I want to know more about.

Coulson is a clone, though. Or possibly a robot :) Should I have marked that with spoilers or is it just as obvious to everyone else :P Whatever he is, he isn't the "real" Coulson so the "big reveal" is sure to be "oh so dramatic!" (computers need a sarcastic font) It's hardly "gripping" because you see it coming.

As David O'Doherty has sung, 'Please Please Lower Your Expectations'. Think it's the only way we'll enjoy this show.

The pilot wasn't as good as I'd hoped, but then again I was hoping for a lot. However, it was great fun and was never boring.

As stated by others, Whedon's pilots usually come off a little lackluster (other than Firefly for me) as trying to find the tone from concept to page to screen can be tough. But as he's shown over and over, once the premise and characters are set that's when the best stuff is on the way.

Initially, the show will be power/monster of the week (with token season arc) while it finds its feet and we get to know the characters. After that? I think we'll be in for one heck of a ride.

Personally, I'll be looking forward to an inevitable body swap episode where Agent Ward is acting as Simmons.

Let's not forget, both Dr. Who and Star Trek had their initial pilots rejected, and were re-jigged. Pilots are for networks to test viability and audience reaction (through test screenings). Few lead to a series with no changes or tweaks. I haven't seen it yet, so cannot comment on SHIELD, but will try to keep an open mind, despite the spoiler (thanks Amanda! :D )

Yeah, hear that; James. Your opinions are WRONG.

You seem to be confusing "I think..." with "THIS IS A FACT!!!!"

You would be a fool then. No offence to you but to your comment as the reviewer has clearly explained why this show has issues and clearly the reviewer is a fan and wants the best and what we have been given so far is not that. To say you are wrong because it can get better is crazy. It is not currently great or good it is average. Yes it could get better but it already had as clearly explained above some serious flaws which can now not be removed so what ever happens it will have to drag that excess baggage through the show unless in an incredibly rare and brave move they literally cut atleast 3 of the cast if not 4. You know who they will be in your gut.

The question should be why is this not as good as ARROW ?
Why is this more The cape then Heroes series 1? How is it only as good as no ordinary family but with weaker characters?
Why is there no clear threat of evil from day 1 or what there was is a joke.

If a pilot with this director and writer and actors and budget and pedigree and universe and existing fans isn't amazing and a huge hit then I say roll on TERRA NOVA syndrome as there is water in the boat.

For all we know, the Coulson in the Avengers film might have been the duplicate :p

Haha. You shouldn't be reading this story if you haven't seen it yet! Anyway, that is just my guess. They didn't say it, just the whole "he can never know the truth" trope hanging over him.

Maybe Coulson will realise that his team looks just *too* perfect, and will come to the startling conclusion that his team are all fiendish Skrull duplicates, created just for his benefit. Or, maybe not.

my guess...he's an LMD.

And you seem to be confusing an internet review with fact. You don't agree with the reviewers opinion? Fine. But don't tell him you think "it's wrong". It's his opinion. His opinion is his opinion. Nothing more.

You give your reasons and they're well-balanced and interesting. You negate it by telling him his reasons are incorrect, so why should I pay yours any more heed?

I lowered my expectations back when I thought "Whedon's making a marvel show? I bet it's the Hulk! No? Lesser known heroes then? Moon knight, Luke cage, iron fi... No? Shield? Well, it's still gonna have hero of the week, right? No? So CSI: Marvel then." Hence, not disappointed. I was disappointed a long time ago, So I liked the show more than I probably should. Is that good or bad?

Of course, had the pilot been stuffed with cameos from RDJ or Samuel L Jackson or whoever at the expense of the other cast then it would have been written off as a lazy Avengers cash in. Genre shows; damned if they do, damned if they don't...

I came away from this episode feeling hopeful.

While the plot was weak and somewhat generic, there were moments that made me laugh out loud, and at least one intrigue that I hope they do justice to in future episodes.

Whedon excels at the ensemble dynamic and I got a very definite feeling that this cast will be able to deliver the brilliance we've seen in JW's previous outings once they settle in to their respective characters.

With Joss at the helm the future could be super.

Maria Hill: Agent Coulson is dead.

Coulson: then what am I? A clone? A robot? Or maybe I'm the real one!

Maria Hill: nope, he's dead. You're... Clark Gregg.

Clark Gregg: no way! He was on the Avengers!

Maria Hill: yes way and yep!

Clark Gregg: awesome, I met Cobie Smulders!

Arrow? LOL!

Michael's speech at the end was the WORST part in the whole thing. James Hunt gets it so wrong.

<sigh> Many people precede sentences with the phrase "I think..." to denote that the following statement is ALSO an opinion. I even explicitly apologized to the reviewer for having a different opinion. What do you want exactly? "Sorry James, but the opinion that you stated above differs to my own held opinions, although I do acknowledge that both are equally valid"?</sigh>

I totally agree. And my wife likes it. Can't beat that

Well. If only Den of Geek applied one-tenth as much critical thinking to some of the Doctor Who downers of recent times.

I like this show, but I'll apply some critical thinking to it.

This was a solid pilot, good not great, setting up the series and beginning, just beginning, to establish some sort of throughline of its own.

Complaining about the CGI seems pretty irrelevant, unless one expects feature film work on a TV show. Besides, this isn't The Avengers. It's a show about the, frankly, more humdrum agents of SHIELD who do whatever the frak it is that SHIELD does when they're not around Tony Stark and the rest of the super-friends.

And if they are going to bring in some special guests from time to time, that costs money. I'd rather have the budget go in that direction than in what would be minor changes to the look of some sfx.

I'm not going to go point by point on this review as that would be pointless. There is no TV show that could live up to all those expectations, as I see others have already pointed out. Not in 45 minutes or so of story, that is. In a feature film, maybe. But only maybe.

I'm not sold on this cast, which is almost too good-looking for its own good. But then we have Coulsen to ground the thing, so that works.

Lots of nice touches throughout, not the least of which was the callback at the end to the opening scenes of Captain America, when at his future fest of '43 Howard Stark debuted the flying car. Which wasn't quite ready for action then.

Lola certainly is now.

Incidentally, I wonder if the writer is getting a lot of "James Hunt" feedback now.

Great moment in Rush as Thor, er, Hunt introduces himself: "Hunt. James Hunt."

god it was bland. I can't believe they just went with pretty pretty people who cannot really act. It *does* feel like a show from 5-10 years ago. Weird.

I thought it was going to be way way way better than that.

Its the problem with whedon.
i hated the first season of buffy and dollhouse.
grew to love it especially buffy
this too by the end of first season will be AWESOME!

I don't think Arrow is great, the acting is wooden and the story lines juvenile, but it's still better than SHIELD. After one sampling of it I will give it a miss.

Should James have started his review with "I think" too, then?. No, because it's completely unnecessary. We know it's his opinion, just as we know what you've said is your opinion.

There's no problem with disagreeing (or saying you disagree) with points raised but labelling the whole review as "wrong" is just pointlessly rude. See how you get on in the real world when after listening to someone give a seminar, you stick up your hand and begin with "Sorry, but you're wrong".

Sigh away.

I just wanted to reply to everyone suggesting that no TV show could meet the standards I'm applying - you know, the lofty standards of having a coherent story, interesting characters and decent design & effects. Lost. Alias. The Walking Dead. Battlestar Galactica. The X-Files. Star Trek TNG. And those are just the ones I can think of.

I'm not expecting Agents of SHIELD to be as tightly-written and visually cinematic as the likes of Mad Men or Breaking Bad or Orange is the New Black, but can't we at least pretend to hold genre TV to the same standards we would any other?

Obviously you saw a different show from what I did.

Whilst I respect your opinion, it sounds like you were wanting this show to be the best thing since sliced bread. We all want it to succeed and be awesome, like it hopefully will get as the series goes on, but I think some people, not just you, were expecting to be as good as Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones immediately

I'm sorry Tim, I just am not getting it at all. He has an opinion, I have mine. I just do not see why this is a problem

Well, let's see.
Star Trek needed two pilots and a boost from Lucille Ball for NBC to pick it up, and we had to write to the network to rescue it for a 3rd season.
The X-Files was almost cancelled in its 1st season if FOX hadn't moved it from Friday to Sunday.
Battlestar Galactica needed a 4 hour miniseries and a ratings review before the SciFi Channel picked it up for series.
Firefly's 1st full season was cut short with two unaired episodes when FOX killed it.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has Marvel and Disney behind it. It has a better chance of survival than most new shows this year, and it was pretty damned entertaining.
This review is not one of Den of Geek's best.

This show is okay at best, mediocre at worst. Here's my problem: Jeph Loeb is an executive producer. I expect better.

Yes, the cast are way too young and good-looking. They need to get some older, more battle-scarred people in there. How is it that some kid in their early 20's can get security clearance higher than that of the Avengers themselves?! I will watch the next episode, but I wasn't overwhelemed by the first one; just mildly entertained.

I liked it and will definitely continue to watch, was a bit too cheesy at the end though. Not quite Smallville cheesy but would still make a good pizza topping.

Couldn't agree more. A total 'Meh' if ever there was one.

I reckon the world's gonna have a superhero overload soon... there's just way too much of it. Especially if DC go down the same road here and do that "Gotham" tv series.

As for this... was kinda bland. Actors were bland, characters were bland, the story was bland and the last few minutes were a bit too cheesy.

But Whedon's shows always seem to get better as they go along. I'm sure it'll get better. Well, I hope it does.

the Chuck and futurama pilots are two first episodes that spring to mind in terms of sheer quality and really getting, from the first possible moment, what a shows about.

In saying that I agree a show needs several episodes to be judged properly, and I just wished that more tv shows aired their first and second episodes together...

I didn't expect the pilot to be perfect, but I was expecting far more. MAoS reminded me a lot of "Alphas". That's good and bad I suppose, as I really liked Alphas and where it seemed to be heading before it was cancelled. I can only hope that the next few episodes hit the ground running.

You any many others. I think that's too easy though.

Considering Marvel's track record and the talent (but not necessarily the track record) of team Whedon, you bet he was wanting the show to be the best thing since sliced bread. Weren't you? If HBO and AMC can make incredible television, why can't Marvel and team Whedon?

It did feel and look cheap. I can only hope the upcoming few episodes have benefited from the additional production time.

Were you watching Bill Nye too?

Well yeah, I was wanting it to be brilliant. But I'm also a realist, and pilots are never great eps. They're not gonna pull out an ep as good as, say, Rains of Castamere or Battle of Blackwater straight away.

I have faith that it'll get better, as I think Whedon and co. can pull it off, but I knew it wasn't going to be incredible already.

The reviewer seems to want it to be the best TV show ever after just 45 minutes of viewing.

I had high expectations for this show which was probably unfair but I think the review is dead on. This wasn't Whedon's best work. It wasn't like watching buffy for the first time and I don't know the characters really weren't that interesting. Maybe it's unfair to judge from the pilot but the "On this Season of AOS trailer" there didn't seem to be that much there. Also I think they're going to get viewers tuning out once they realise it's not quite as close to the avengers as they first thought. I mean seriously they name dropped them like ten times but it just felt forced. It could improve but it wasn't pilot of the year, The Blacklist was better. Hell, Hostages was better. Ooh no wait Sleepy Hollow was the best pilot so far. Actually come to think of it that felt more whedon-like than this

I watched the entire first season of Arrow...hoping it would get did not ...IMHO there is no chemistry between the actors....I want a show about superheroes to have heroes with powers...Arrow has none...what I look for in a show is good or great writing first and characters I care about second....Arrow has neither.

If the acting is wooden and the storylines is Arrow better than SHIELD? I watched the entire first season of Arrow before I bailed...if you are bailing after one episode of SHIELD todays world you can always revisit it later and give it another shot...considering how other Joss shows have started out as "not must see TV" but morphed into great shows I rely on TV history telling me not to give up on this one.

Nope is are giving the show a chance...that is a good thing to do...if it follows the pattern of other Joss shows will take time to build...the characters will be memorable ....there will be a monster of the week, but there also will be a big bad....the characters will grow and change and their decisions will affect that growth.

Exactly. Character development. Besides, my Marvel geekiness won't allow me to miss it. It's way better than ghost rider or daredevil. Or ghost rider 2. Now what if some good guys come into the picture... as badguys? Or apparent badguys? Blade, punisher, ghost rider, daredevil... I think it could work towards their own movies or inclusion in the avengers or both. I hope the Kingpin makes an appearance.

Can everybody just remember that this is ONE EPISODE? If every TV series was judged and then possibly cancelled or allowed to air, based on its first episode, let me assure you, there would be very little of the TV shows we know and love still around.

The Big Bang Theory recieved mediocre reviews, based on its first episode. Now, 6 seasons on, it's won Emmys.

The early episodes of 2005 Doctor Who didn't always recieve *amazing* reviews, yet 8 years on, it's become a worldwide success.

Breaking Bad recieved "ok" reviews, based on it's first season. Oh look, it's won an Emmy.

I'm not saying that Agents is going to go on to win an Emmy or to become a worldwide success, but give it a bloody chance people. Honestly. Look at yourselves.

What you mean the truth that Agent Coulson is a real life decoy (a popular get out clause for Nick Fury being dead one minuet and alive in the next issue)

The same geekiness makes me give any comic based or scifi show a chance....I have been disappointed most times ...but I am still hopeful.

For me it's equally marvel, Tolkien, and the walking dead, and next to those Harry potter, becaus its over ( for now). Below that fox/xmen, then DC, below that under the dome, and last Spider-Man. I also watch avengers and hulk cartoons on Disney xd. Yes, I'm 31, married, and have 3 kids. Thing is my wife joins me in some geekiness and my kids join me in the others. We all like Potter and Hobbits though.

BSG had a coherent story?

I must have missed that episode.

And Lost didn't piffle around for 2 years just to rake in a bit more cash?

The X-Files didn't have the major plot hole of Mulder never buying a camera despite seeing amazing things on a weekly basis? That show wandered about hell of a lot towards the end as well.

Whilst admittedly a Whedonite of long standing, I really enjoyed it.

As with most things he touches, JW's interplay and dialogue is what sets this apart from every other investigative show.

I'm not quite sure what the writer of this review was expecting from a TV show, especially given various comments made about this series prior to it even being made.

At the end of the day, this show is about the smaller people, the back room staff behind the big-name heroes, I guess its closest bedfellow might seen to be The West Wing.
I didn't think the CGI was terrible, but then I do have a small TV. The open scene was very 'set in the lot', but after that, nothing about the settings or the graphics grabbed my attention in a negative way.

A new series by Josh feels like coming home.

Older person in charge of young recruits - check.

Intelligent, strong women - check.

People we've seen in his other series - check.

Humour - check.

In a dour TV land that all too often now resorts to graphics, violence and never-explained mysteries, MAOS already stands above most shows out there as something different and something better.

Richard's speech in the station alone was better than at least two of the more boring Marvel films.

About to read the rest of your comment, but have a ^ for the first sentence alone.

Looking back, Blake's 7 had the mother of all bad CGI, but was a wonderful series.

Maybe they should start making shows that are shot after shot of exciting CGI things happening, like buildings blowing up or trains crashing as there seems to be a large number of folks who care more about that than plot, character or dialogue.

I can live without too many guest stars, they'll get in the way and take focus from the characters.

I'd be happy with seeing RDJ walking out of a building as we follow someone in, or Fury exiting the bathroom as we pan past it.

Ok, my biggest issue with this (presuming it begins as not only The Avengers but as Iron Man 3 left off) is that they are dealing with Extremis. I know it would appear to be a cash in to have RDJ in the first episode but I imagine S.H.I.E.L.D are fully aware that Stark knows how to resolve the issue of the human bomb (he even cured PP) - a quick phone call and a cameo later would've been a great solution to the scene where Fitz and Simmons were having trouble understanding and resolving this issue - "We can't figure this out but our colleague who is a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist that everyone loves knows how to..."

That aside it was a steady if not spectacular opening and I eagerly await the second episode.

It's too bad ABC tends to drop shows rather then improve them. I've seen many good ideas with poor execution be axed by ABC without them even trying to refine what made them work. I'm scared Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. won't even get the chance it deserves.

Loved the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Pilot, yes its a bit cheesy, but its Joss Whedon, quite a lot of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was about as cheesy as you get, and you all love that, mostly. The cast seem generic, of course they do, all character seems generic in the first episode, Buffy was the pretty girl who can kick ass (not as rare as everyone made out), willow was the computer geek and whiz kid, Xander was the lovable doofus sidekick. Giles, older mentor (and British). i agree, it wasnt whendon's best work, but his tv series have always seemed to start off a little shaky. i for one cant wait to see where this goes.

I think this review is very fair and accurate. I found myself very disappointed with a few things in the show. But as this is only the first episode, we can hope that they can pick up their missing pieces and wrap it up well within the next few episodes, make this show what the fans really want.

The writing for this piece does have a lot of good elements, but some of the characters seemed flat to me. We get a glimpse at who Fitz and Simmons are supposed to be, but they seemed like basic cardboard cut-out geniuses: quirky, feeling under-appreciated (Fitz), and very into their work, but nothing we haven't seen before.

For the fans, like myself, I am looking forward to seeing more in depth characters. The most interesting characters were Michael Peterson ("What will happen to him?" we all wonder) and the Agent Melinda May, who showed real human emotion and really caught our attention.

The characters need more... umph. More zazz. Not like movie zazz. But real people zazz. We, the viewers, the fans, need to watch this show and feel satisfied that we are watching people, not just characters, go through things in a world from Marvel, not a world with Marvel characters.

I was very disappointed. The show looks so cheap! Shouldn't there be Disney money behind this? The actors all look like audition head shots come to life. The story was nothing special. The only high point was Coulson's "return." I hope it gets better than this. Granted I really did not like the first couple episodes of Firefly before I came to love that show. So we will see. But man, they better get their Sh*t together.

There are only 30 days in September.....

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.? More like Agents of Deus Ex Machina.

My thoughts: thin plot, loved the Whedon banter, mostly uninteresting characters. It's only the pilot though, so hopefully it will get better.

If the suspense of if this is the 'real' Coulson or not is what they hope will hold watchers, then count me out.

Resolve it quickly so you do not piss off 3/4 of the audience at the end of the season.

Give us a show that is worth watching based upon it's merits, and not some cheap stunt.

Whoa, man, Whoa! Mind blown!

Why are you going on about how shows ended? This article is about the pilot. Even if all those shows had plot holes and petered out towards the end doesn't mean they didn't have great, strong, coherent pilots. They all did.

I enjoyed it. It didn't blow me away but it made me smile in the right places, it had just the right amount of intrigue and any excuse to see more Coulson is fine by me. I agree the cast are a bit too "beautiful", to the point where some looked interchangeable - if not for the red hair, I'd have trouble picking out Skye from the shady doctor. And why is everyone aside from Coulson and May in their late twenties? The show needs more variety. Also, weren't we supposed to have a husband and wife team from the Item 47 short?

Anyway, it's got me waiting on the next episode, and it has plenty of room to maneuver in the coming weeks. I'm just going to sit back and enjoy the ride :)

I really am reserving judgment until I get a couple of episodes in. Whedon tends to set up premises that seem 2 dimensional at first, and then subverts them more and more effectively as those shows progress (exception being Firefly which established its tone in like... seconds).

Wow, now that's what I call harsh. Personally, I think you came to this show expecting something so phenomenal that nothing could ever have lived up to your expectations.

Main lead who can't act - check
Cocky new boy - check
Tech nerds - check
Incomprehensible plot - check

I hate to naysay everybody but this was an excellent pilot, especially when ranked against Whedon's other TV efforts and not major feature films! I enjoyed it immensly because at my advanced age (59) I love the quality of genre TV against what I viewed as a (UK) child. By the way, ARROW Season 1 was an an astonishing achievement. I'm not sure if anyone (haven't read every comment - sorry) has commented upon the final flying car image and the original SHIELD comic book sequence introducing Nick Fury with a ..... flying car!!!

I agree. Shows should not be judged and then possibly cancelled based on their first episode.

Should they, FOX?! *cough cough Firefly cough cough* (No, I'm never letting this go(

pretty harsh there. it was a good beginning, and honestly, about what you could reasonably expect considering they couldn't have any of the avengers cast aside from hill and coulson. though a little surprised by the michael character, for a while I was thinking luke cage/powerman, or once I saw the gadget on his arm, was thinking it would be something to do with Extremis from IM3. Fitz and Simmons are names in the MU, wasn't there a time traveler named Fitszimmons? so they took the name and split it as the pair of tech guru's, but Skye is a bit much to bring in. 3 tech people on the team is 2 too many for most audiences, and wasn't Skye the name of a character on the short lived 'The Cape?' played by Whedon favorite Summer Glau?

Erm, Blake 7 had no cgi. They didn't use computers at all back then, But I take your point.

I found it a bit all over the place... but it was the first one so let's give it time :)

Kinda feels like the reviewer wanted far two much from less than 45 minutes of TV. For me this pilot episode, if you can really class this as a pilot, was a lot better than that of some shows that have gone on to great success.
Clearly the show is not going to shy away from the universe in which the inhabit, with references throughout to the events of Avengers and Iron Man 3; indeed the plot of this first episode could almost be seen as a sequel to IM3 in some ways.
We also saw the beginnings of some elements of story arcs, from the "He must never know" quote to Mikes status at the conclusion of the episode.
This, in my view, was a fantastic opener to the series, which left plenty of questions unanswered, whilst giving the viewer so much detail to take in that multiple viewings are a must to get everything out of it. just like the Marvel Universe movies that spawned it.

Having watched the "Avengers" film on a plane, and Iron Man 1 (couldn't
really be bothered with "2", nor "3"), I just took this on its own
terms. And thoroughly enjoyed it. The opening Agent Ward in action
scenes were a tongue-in-cheek delight, I actually laughed when he
climaxed with that ridiculous James Bind helicopter/rope trick. Plot inversions were great, too. Looking forward to the rest of the series!


In retrospective "Encounter at Farpoint" for example did significantly worse with twice the airtime. It shares similarities with "Welcome to the Hellmouth" in that it's only supposed to set the ball moving.

Not everything can have a 3 part extravaganza like BSG.

I get a lot of grief from my GF for watching cartoons. I've given up trying to pretend that it's for my son's sake. I blame Lovefilm for enabling me to relive my childhood by having the 90's X-men cartoon available to stream!

I think you're wrong...

I was just saying 2 or 3 days ago that that cartoon had the best intro music (well after Hey, Arnold! You just can't beat "move it, footballhead!"), but xmen was also very cool. That was one wolverine you'd never snicker at for the blue and yellow. Hugh jackman does fine, but to me wolverine is a mix of Stallone and Eastwood. But it did all the xmen justice, and had loads of great villains.

The Apocalypse storyline was my favorite. That cartoon was awesome man.

"Well Thor technically isn't a god" ???? Wtf who thought that line was a good idea? Other then that I really enjoyed it. Loved the use of Extreamis which will tie iron man 3 in further down the line. Looking forward to next week :)

I agree that I would have liked more of a mix of characters of different ages and attractiveness*. That being said, I think they did well in their roles. The British couple were a bit too stereotypical in their roles (i.e. the American idea of what British folk are like) but then again so was Rupert Giles. And boy was that turned on it's head a series down the line when we found out about Ripper. Much like the archetypal blonde cheerleader type, right from the start, for that matter.

Turning archetypes on their heads is something Whedon does well.

This was a good episode, in my opinion. Could it be improved upon? Couldn't most pilot episodes?

*bearing in mind attractiveness is subjective but this young bunch would be considered attractive to most people.

I found the banter to be too cute at times. The Lola joke and some others just made me cringe a bit. Also, they are a secret organisation are they not? So why on earth do they have logos on the side of their cars?! And could of done with out the hover car at the end.

However I will definitely give it a chance as there is too much potential to dismiss it after one episode. Just hope it shows signs of improvement now that the awkward first episode is out of the way.

Agreed. Also agree that Firefly contained his best pilot ever. That was such an impressive first episode.

Did the episode make clear whether Iron Man 3 had happened yet or not? I almost got the feeling that it occurred simultaneously with IM3, unless I missed something...

I think that line was in reference to the fact that the folks from S.H.I.E.L.D. see everything in terms of science. Whilst the MU mixes both magic and science, these folks are firmly set in the science camp.

Got it on Sky+, working all weekend, don't worry, Amanda, just kidding!

It was fantastic theme music, although for me the catchiest is Spectacular Spiderman (just from typing this I will have it stuck in my head for days). They really should make more of those.

Personally I enjoyed it, liked the way it didn't take itself seriously. Sure it had flaws, what pilot hasn't? The 'pretty' factor for the cast was slightly annoying, and the actress playing Skye seems to just be channeling Felicity from Arrow but there was more good than bad imo. Once they find their feet and iron out a few teething problems this could be a truly great tv show.

I thought it was a decent start...basically Season 2 of Heroes.

Not sure if it was just the HD, but the sets really looked like sets.

With respect this is based on an intellectual property that was used in the Avengers film and preceding movie series. Why are we not subjecting this show to the same standards we expect from Avengers? If they put Shield on the front cover, you expect the same if not better quality from our previous encounters with them.

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