Tuesday 10:00 PM on ABC (Returning September 20, 2016)

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S01E01: "Pilot"


There are TV shows, and then there are Joss Whedon TV shows. If you're not sure of the difference, if you're not one of Whedon's acolytes, the difference is this: Joss Whedon TV shows aren't just about the shiny, or the witty dialogue—although both of those things obviously factor heavily into every Whedon production—they're about people. Oh sure, you could argue that every TV show is about people and you wouldn't be wrong, but Whedon shows tend to focus on the psyche, and what makes us human, what makes us strong, what makes us want to be better. Whedon shows explore humanity in abnormal circumstances and scenarios, and they're never really about what they appear to be about on the surface.

Whedon's four previous series—Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Buffy's spin-off AngelFirefly, and Dollhouse—all focused on good people fighting the good fight against whatever evil they came up against, whether it was a demon in the night or a corrupt organization that had the ability to wipe personal identities and free will and reprogram humans as it saw fit. They were all stories about people from all different worlds who fought evil. 

Buffy wasn't a pop-culture phenomenon because its main character was a tiny blonde girl who chased after the monster in a dark alley; it became a landmark series because it turned every notion we had about horror and the supernatural on its head, and it did so with heart and comedy. But more importantly, it was about how "family" means more than just a group of people who are related by blood. In fact, while most of Whedon's work doesn't actually involve many blood relatives, the concept of family typically factors heavily, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.—which I will be shortening to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and probably just S.H.I.E.L.D. by the middle of October, and maybe eventually I'll get really crazy and go with SHIELD—is no different. So let's take a second to review what we've just learned about the members of this new S.H.I.E.L.D. family, shall we?


Brett Dalton stars as Agent Ward, who I will be referring to as Agent Handsome for the rest of the series. Ward is your typical hard-ass who's all about the job and probably eats his frozen dinners by himself. He also likely believes emotions are a weakness, hates puppies, and doesn't play well with others. In the premiere, Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) explained to Agent Handsome that in her files, Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) had described Handsome's "people skills" via an illustration of a little poop with knives sticking out of it. Hill explained later that it was actually a porcupine, but whatever, poop + knives is way better.

Then there's Skye, though that's totally not her real name. She's played by Chloe Bennet (who, btw, was one of our nine actors who deserve to break out this season), and she's a hacker. We don't know much else about her yet, but it's probably safe to assume she didn't have the best childhood, and was probably forced to raise herself. She's great at improvising, always has really great hair in the middle of a crisis, and she's smarter than all of us combined. She was able to break into S.H.I.E.L.D.'s database, and she knows how to erase people's entire identity from government databases. If she could make my driver's license picture go away forever, that would be super cool. 


Making up the science-y part of the team—a staple of all Whedon shows (think Willow in Buffy, Fred in Angel, Kaylee and Simon in Firefly, and Topher in Dollhouse) are FitzSimmons, a.k.a. Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker), who's in charge of engineering, and Jemma "I'm not Hermione!" Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), who's a biochemistry whiz. They like to talk over each other a lot, and they seem to get along as well as they fight. Ming-Na's Melinda May—the veteran team member who's only function is "to drive the bus"—is a puzzle, because we still don't know why she's been out of the field for so many years. MYSTERY.

And lastly, but perhaps most importantly, is Agent Phil Coulson, who you'll remember bit the dust in The Avengers. He is the leader of this clan, but how he came to be where he is is shrouded in secrecy. Not even Coulson knows what really happened to him. He claimed he stopped breathing for eight seconds after being "shanked by the Asgardian Mussolini," and then spent several weeks in Tahiti recuperating. Also, the Avengers don't know he's alive (which is the easy way out of explaining why Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth won't be stopping by the TV series). 

It was clear very early on that Coulson doesn't know the truth about his own resurrection (was it a resurrection?), as was made clear by an ominous exchange between Shepherd Book (okay fine, Ron Glass's character on this show is Dr. Streiten) and Agent Hill:

Streiten: "He really doesn't know does he?" 

Hill: "He can never know." 

This story undoubtedly goes much deeper than a simple eight-second death, and I suspect it will be a major arc that plays out over the course of the first season, or perhaps even longer. And for the record, I'm not mad that the question of how Coulson is alive wasn't answered right away, because that would have been awfully cheap. And Whedon is not cheap.


Speaking of not cheap, as you probably already know, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a spin-off of the highly successful, kajillion-dollar 2012 summer blockbuster The Avengers—though you don't have to have seen it to understand S.H.I.E.L.D. (However, you should see it regardless, because it was A.W.E.S.O.M.E.) The series is not about the superheroes who populate the Marvel Universe, but about the little guys who "protect people from the news they aren't ready to hear" (and look out for the helpless/hopeless?). 

That being said, the pilot focused heavily on an "unregistered gifted" played by Whedon alum J. August Richards (Gunn on Angel). He plays a down-on-his-luck man who put his trust in a doctor (played by The O.C.'s Shannon Lucio) who promised she could improve his life. Unfortunately, and you'll know this if you saw Ironman 3 (or read the comics), what she did instead was pump him full of Extremis, a highly unstable new drug/serum that was supposed to create super soldiers. Did I mention it was unstable? Because it is, and people who've been injected with Extremis usually eventually explode because human bodies cannot handle it. So Gunn (okay, the character's name is actually Mike Peterson but I will call him Gunn because I want to and I can) was basically a ticking bomb. Sounds awesome! Where do I sign up?

The Extremis pumping through Gunn's blood made him extremely volatile. And after kidnapping Skye to "protect her from the scary men in dark suits" (she's said the same thing to him earlier in the pilot, right before she yanked his ID out of his pocket—sneaky!), and also so she could work her hacker magic to erase his identity so he and his son could start over, he completely lost his cool when he realized that Skye had alerted S.H.I.E.L.D. to their location. And for a second it looked like he was about to take out Union Station. Obviously, the new S.H.I.E.L.D. team that Coulson had assembled was able to save Gunn's life, because you not only can't kill off J. August Richards in the pilot, but because that's what this team does. They take relatively small (compared to the Battle of New York), odd, unexplicable (to the mass public) situations and diffuse them. 


Much like every other Whedon production, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will be a procedural with season-long arcs that tell a bigger story. Eventually, once the series establishes itself, I wouldn't be surprised if it pushed the procedural to the back burner, and brought the character development to the forefront. That's where Whedon shows really excel. And the pilot had everything you could ask for from a Whedon production: heart, witty dialogue, and enough action to keep even the most ADD viewers interested. But perhaps most importantly, it had the patented Whedon Deeper Meaning of Life Speech, which I've transcribed here because it perfectly sums up the underlying message of the series. As Gunn became potentially more volatile in response to S.H.I.E.L.D. trying to contain him—lest he he explode, taking out two city blocks—he said:

Gunn: "I'm not like that other guy. It matters who I am inside. If I'm a good person. If I'm strong... You said if we worked hard, if we did right, we'd have a place. You said it was enough to be a man, but there's better than man—there's gods. And the rest of us? What are we? They're giants. We're what they step on."

Coulson: "I've seen giants up close, and that privilege cost me nearly everything. But the good ones, the real deal, they're not heroes because of what they have that we don't—it's what they do with it. You're right, it matters who you are."

The Agents of S.H.I.E.LD. pilot was exactly what we expected to be. You needn't be a Whedon fan to enjoy this series, because it's shaping up to a fun action series that will probably tug on our heartstrings as much as it will pull out all sorts of cool gadgets and gizmos and take down lots of bad guys. There will be plenty of humor, but there will be plenty of real danger, too. The speech at the end of this first episode was typical Whedon, but it worked because it solidified what the show is about: people, and who those people are on the inside. It doesn't matter that they're not genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropists, or the Chosen One. Because being human, and being the best that you can be, is what's important. Believing in yourself, that's what makes everyone a hero (in their own way). 



NOTES

– While I am a Whedon worshipper, I'm not a huge comic book fan (unless we're talking Whedon comics). If this ever become an issue, I'd ask that 1) you guys forgive me for my terrible-ness, and 2) help me out with comics references in the comments. 

– Shannon Lucio's evil doctor is still on the loose, probably pumping Extremis into someone else as we speak. It'll be interesting to see how her character continues to cause problems for our ragtag band of misfits.

– Who or what is Rising Tide, really?

– The series is a full-on Whedon production, as Joss's brother Jed and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen serve as writers and executive producers. Trust me when I say this is a good thing. They're also partly responsible for Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Dollhouse, Spartacus: War of the Damned, snd Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.

– The pilot featured appearances by J. August Richards and Ron Glass, who starred on Angel and Firefly, respectively. What other Whedon alums are you hoping to see pop up in the future? Summer Glau is probably a given, but I'm holding out hope for James Marsters and Fran Kranz. Oh, and Tom Lenk, because imagine what he could do with this material.

– I do hope Cobie Smulders is able to return as Agent Maria Hill after she wraps up Season 9 of How I Met Your Mother. Because it's clear she is a key to Coulson's unlikely return, and also because she's a badass.


– Skye lives in a van by choice. And it's not even down by the river. Either go all in or find a real home, Skye. Don't half-ass this "good-looking hobo" shit. If you need advice, call Derek Hale. He's got the bum thing down.

– Agent Handsome: "I don't think Thor is technically a God." Agent Hill: "You haven't seen his arms."

– Coulson's entrance: *steps out of the darkness* "Welcome to Level 7... Sorry, that corner was really dark and I couldn't help myself. I think there's a bulb out." 

– Agent Handsome: "She might as well be one of those sweaty cosplay girls crowding around Stark Tower." Skye: "WHAT? I would... it was one time."


Well? Now that you've seen it, what'd you think?!! 

Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/17/2016

Season 3 : Episode 22

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as much as I like Summer, I kind of hope she does not appear on the show – because everything she shows up on seems to die a premature death. It's not her fault, it's just weird.
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Loved it. For reasons in no particular order...
Lola. If you're doing SHIELD you gotta gotta gotta have at least one flying car.
Mystery abounds. How is Coulson not dead? Why does Maggie May want to stay out of the action? What is Rising Tide? What's with FitzSimmons? There are more questions than answers. This is a good thing.
Potential guest stars.. A. Hannigan, N.P. Harris, E. Dushku, everyone for the Jossverse.
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I admit I expected Agent Handsome to be a bore but Dalton gives a pretty compelling performance that turned into a totally awesome one when he got injected with the hilariously unexpected serum of truth.
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I'm not usually a fan of that type of shows/movies but I really enjoy it because it was well done and really entertaining like a little movie of 45min... But before giving my final opinion I'll give it the 4 episodes trial...
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it was okay, I wasn't impressed with the cringy science crap, and i was definitely not impressed with the stupid flying car bit at the end. that was awful.

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Very disappointing premiere.
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SO HAPPY that this is being reviewed by a fellow Joss Whedon fan! Great review! Looking forward to reading them weekly!
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I really liked the first episode. Nothing too exciting and slightly too polished for my liking, but underneath the polish it still felt like Wheden and that buys this show a lot of leeway in my opinion.
To the people who feel cheated out of something or who didn't like the first episode or whichever reason has you doubtful about watching this I'd say, give it time. Even though The Avengers was really good, Whedon shows have to get in your bones. You have to give them time. None of Whedon's pilot's are IN YOUR FACE and they shouldn't be. Neither are they based on reality. They are about human connections and that stuff takes time.

I'm ready for the ride and ready for the second episode!
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Ya I'm of a similar mind. Pretty much any Whedon show (even the much beloved Firefly) do not start off with a big bang. They are much more serialized, and its much more about developing the characters and the overarching story. I think the show is going to only get better over time.
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I think the reason why the Firefly and even the Dollhouse premiere hold up well if because they aren't really based on anything else. They set up the shows. Buffy, Angel and SHIELD had/have bagage. That ways down any pilot. Doesn't make it bad, just means there are more pre-conceived notions and makes people more judgemental.
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I think from the very beginning Joss et all wanted to make an 'anti- 24' with Coulson serving as the anti-Bauer. The interrogation scene and the stand-off scene at the end nail home the writer's 'message' that they aren't going for the dark by any means necessary approach.
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Let's be honest here, the government would never actually act like they do in this show. They'd shoot the guy in the head and be done with it. This whole thing where Extremis guy gives his speech and they all look so moved is BS. Enough nonsense, please.
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It's a TV show based in the world of comic books. If you're looking for a "real" show, obviously this will not be it.
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The Avengers was based on the comic books and they managed to make that seem real by having the govt. try to nuke New York. Ward is a field agent fresh off the combat line. The idea that he would be moved by Extremis guy's speech is nonsensical.
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This first episode basically stank. I had to rewind so many times to figure out (or try to figure out) what was going on. First off, the talk about Rising Tide as some kind of enemy, but I have no idea what Rising Tide is, and still don't. I never saw the Avengers movie, but was told you don't have to in order to watch this. I disagree. Then Coulson gives his own agent a truth serum when I thought he'd give it to Skye. What was that all about? And finally, they put a bullet in Mr. exploding man's head and then smile when they see he survives. How could he survive? I rewind to find the scene when the two nut job scientists are told by Coulson to "find another way" to save the guy, but don't see them accomplish anything. I can't tell you how many times I said to myself "huh?". And even with the guy surviving and "in recovery", how did they get rid of whatever it was that was going to make him explode? I'm still scratching my head. And the whole show is field with the type of campy dialogue that I really don't like anyway. Based on this first episode, this show is crap. I'd rather watch Blacklist and Hostages which are way more interesting and understandable.
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The humor was so horrible ... it was so artificial and that the series down for me ... Don't know but a good example if Teen Wolf, their humor is sometimes so awesome and the only reason I watch the show ... similar to Walter and Fringe ... In Shield it just turned me off ... maybe it will become better ...
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as I watched the pilot episode of Shield, I realized that I've seen it before in countless other shows. Nothing was new really, absolutely nothing.

THAT is what is holding me back. I will give it a few episodes to show that it is in fact something new and better than what we've all already seen. The characters have so far been stereotypical (you have your supercop who has some kind of a people skill problem, you have your mystery veteran, you have a good looking female character that doesn't really belong in the team and you have 1-2 annoying characters (the tech team, that btw just never shuts up).
Even Coulson seems like a character we've seen many times before in other shows where you have teams that will catch bad guys or whatever.


I hope this show manages to show new things instead of tired old stuff like the pilot, coz I really need new shows to watch this year
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James Masters and Adam Baldwin. And Eliza Dusku. Maybe Alexis Denisoff. and it would be actually super cool to see Allison Hannigan and Cobie Smulders to face off at some point. And while he is not exactly a Whedon alumn, Freddie Prince Jr.
I love Fitz and Simmons, awkwardnes, amwesomeness, geekiness, speaking over each other, sexy tension and all :)
Agent Handsome is right. I wonder what his story is.
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Hope Eliza Dushku guest stars early in a role that can show up again and again. Same with Helo and if Glau guest stars make sure her character dies by the end with no chance of coming back.

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Have to give it a couple more episodes. I've learned not to get too happy about any of Whedon's shows, because I'm probably the only one on the planet who loved his shows that failed and didn't like the ones that succeded. Didn't like Buffy, though I may be biased because they cancelled Dark Angel because of Buffy, and Angel didn't do much for me either. I really hope it all works out, a successful Whedon show I like rather than one or the other.
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Can someone tell me the difference between the tv series "Heroes"?

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"Heroes" was about people, god and bad, who discover that they have super-powers (including time-travel and predicting the future) and a scientist trying to find them, in a world where no one knows or believes there people with super-powers among them.

"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is about a group of secret agents and consultants with no powers, trying to solve super-human or alien-technology related problems, at least so far, in a world where one year has passed since the people have witnessed "The Avengers" battle of New York and as a result everyone now knows there are aliens out there and that there people with super-powers among them.
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Can someone tell me between the tv series "Heroes"?
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Whedon Alum guesses/wishes: Tahmoh Penikett!!! (& Battlestar Alum), yeah, Summer Glau is a given, and would love to see Eliza Dushku, haven't seen her in a while.
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It was an awesome beginning and i'm looking forward to much more! :)
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So.. I was not into this AT ALL! Im gonna give it the 5 episode test but... I like to consider myself a huge Whedon fan and have a fair amount of knowledge of the Whedonverse, and so... I felt like Joss had almost nothing to do with this! I didn't get his vibe anywhere except maybe some of the comedy, but even then it felt out of place. I hate to admit it but I was not a fan of the Avengers movie and.... (I know I'm gonna get flack for this) I almost feel like Joss has lost what we all loved about Buffy, Angel, Firefly,..etc. I don't wanna say sell out or anything cause I think the man is a God!, but I think the success of Avengers is going to be his downfall in the eyes of his true cult fans. I feel like his projects are now going to adhere to what the mass majority wants and not what Joss wants and loves. I just don't want him to change his voice in order to be more mass producible... I still love you though Joss!!
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I'm a huge Whedon fan too, but my devotion to him is so much that I will watch every single episode of Agents of SHIELD, regardless of where it goes.

That being said, I wasn't a fan of The Avengers either (you're not the only one!), and for me the problem is that Whedon is working with a universe of characters and mythology that has been created and built on for years and years before he even went near it. The problem I have with all the Marvel films is that for me they are extremely generic superhero fare that has little to no substance, other than some cool costumes and special effects (that may be a little harsh on my part, but you get my point).

I think people are expecting a Whedon greatness from Agents of SHIELD, forgetting that , this is a Marvel product and therefore comes with its already pre-established tone and feeling. Yes, Whedon's snappy dialogue and pop-culture references make a welcome addition to what could be considered the pretty generic superhero fare, but it will never be as good as any of Whedon's other shows.

Is Whedon selling out to produce television/ movies that appeal to the majority? I very much doubt it. Writing stories for Marvel, it seems, is pretty much a dream job for Whedon, and he obviously believes that he has the ability to tell meaningful and insightful stories about humanity with these characters, otherwise he wouldn't be pursuing it at all. It's not that his voice has changed per se, it's that now he has to apply his voice to a world that isn't his own, and that's always going to cause some problems.

While I'm happy that he's back on television, I wouldn't want it any other way, and I wish him all the success with Marvel, I really cannot wait for the day he prodcues something else that his completely his own work (and look on the bright side, five successful years of Agents of SHIELD means a lot more money to do what he wants when he's eventually done with it).
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I was actually pretty excited when he joined up with Marvel cause I'm a huge comic book fan! Its not the fact of him doing marvel superhero movies/television series that I don't like... its just that I feel its missing his certain.... spark... I guess. I understand the idea that he can't tweak the heroes too much because of all the mythology that comes along with it. and personally I don't want him to! I'm one of those who angers at movies deviating from the original material. But I loved what he did with Astonishing X-men, and kind of wanted him to go more that direction. I guess I just want the type of characters he usually writes. I need more depth and emotion, to the point of truly loving these characters. I want these group of friends to feel as if they are my group of friends! I feel like he could accomplish that with both Avengers and S.H.I.E.L.D. if he didn't have to appeal to the popular mass with "oh yeah, I forgot.. I have to have a lot of explosions because most of America needs stimuli of loud noises and bright lights to feel entertained." I mean even Joss himself said he wasn't too satisfied with Avengers, I think maybe its because he couldn't really do him. I'm still going to watch the show(till I really just CANT anymore) and I"m stil gonna go see Avengers 2. Cause its Joss! Hello! But I am sooo happy and excited that he is finally getting mass recognition for the genius and God he is! :)
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Honestly, it was okay. It wasn't nearly as fantastic as I thoought it would be. I'll chalk it up to the hype. I was mildly entertained and occasionally amused, but to be fair, it is also the pilot, and pilots can be a chore to get through sometimes. Maybe I'm missing something and I need to watch it again.
-I thought it started off nicely. I enjoyed uh Agent Handsome's debut.
-I thin Skye could become a fairly interesting character. She wavered between being annoying and cliche and being amusing for me, but I think I can grow to like her.
-FitzSimmons. I'm usually all for my adorkable geeky characters, the more the merrier, duos...I'm all for them. I don't know, maybe they'll grow on me too, after I get accustomed to their talking over each other and the mildly irritating British Bobbsey Twins bit.
-I enjoyed Coulson.
-Peterson or uh Gunn, clearly we were all set up to sympathize or even empathize with hte man's plight, and the entire exchange between him and Coulson that was a total pause for the cause, metaphors and allegories bit as a reflection of society and humanity etc was, you know, expected and all, but there was some overlooking being done that I found odd, ineffectual, and contradictory? I don't know.
- The mysterious Ming-na could be interesting. As is the background of Skye and how Agent Handsome deals with being an agent at S.H.I.E.L.D.
-I always appreciate the witty and humrous dialoge, I believe these were some of my faves:
  • Hill: What does S.H.I.E.L.D. stand for Agent Ward?
    Ward: Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division.
    Hill: And what does that mean to you?
    Ward: That someone really wanted our initials to spell SHIELD
  • Hill: Then New York was invaded by aliens, and they were beaten back by among others, a giant green monster, a costumed hero from the 40s, and a god.
    Ward: I don't think Thor is technically a god
    Hill: You haven't been near his arms.
  • Coulson: [steps out of shadow] Welcome to level 7. Sorry, that corner was really dark, I couldn't help myself. I think there's a bulb out.
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Cobie Smulders is yummy.
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Am I the only one who went "Clone!" about the whole Coulson-coming-back-from-the-dead?
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Or robot . . .
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Yes!!!! That was my immediate reaction after Hill says "he can never know" Coulson clone!
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you definitely were not!
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Nice pilot, cannot wait to see where the show will take us. I already love Mei, she is super badass. Overall, loads of funny lines, lots of mysteries... As a Whedon and even more, as a Marvel fan, I am clearly excited.
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There was no way this could have lived to all I expected from a combination of Whedon and Marvel comics (which I knew already when expecting it) but I really enjoyed the dialogs, of course. I hope as the story progresses and the characters develop it will be easier to tell apart all the brown-haired ladies.
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I really enjoyed SHIELD and there should be a law that there is at least one Whedon series on tv at all times.

The scene I loved most was where Coulsen explained to Skye how powerful his truth-serum was and then inject Ward with it to convince her they were the good guys and get her to co-operate.

Really hope Coby Smulders will be back and looking forward to future episodes.
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I like that law.
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Just for the line 'Agent Ward, who I will be referring to as Agent Handsome' I loved this review... And I totally agree, it is about the people and so far I liked all the characters and the actors playing them. Also the mysteries we are already being teased with (Agent Handsome's parents, Coulson's nature which I am going to guess is either alien or robot, Skye's deleted identity...) and the two scientists are fun too... I hope we see more of Thor-loving Agent Hills... Work hard play hard kind of gal...

The only moment I hated was when Agent Handsome was at the apartment with the 'broken chimney' and they had to have Edith Piaff playing which is just SO cliche and silly...
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As much as I am an avid Whedon fan, and have been since Buffy first aired (really showing my age here..) it wasn't love at first sight with this show.
I definitely liked it, and I'm sure I will watch every episode, but it didn't seem to quite have that magic something of for example Firefly.

I'm more than willing to be seduced however, and am hoping to be madly in love with at least some of the characters (I already have a crush on Coulson) by mid season.
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I was pleasantly surprised by this show. After all the initial hype, then the lukewarm pre-season endorsement by TV.com staff, my expectations were pretty low. I was actually a little amazed when it didn't suck. You say it feels like other Whedon shows, but after watching Buffy, Firefly, and Dollhouse, I think S.H.I.E.L.D. stands on on it's own as a Marvel product, with a bit of a M.I.B. feel thrown in for good measure. It does have some witty, self aware dialogue to spice up the action, and lots of references to the rest of the Marvel universe for the fans, but that/s as close to other Whedon shows as it got for me.

BTW, stop giving them a hard time about the punctuation in the show's title. Whedon didn't just make it up - the show is based on a Marvel comic. The punctuation comes from the source material. See http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/nfury4.jpg for an example. And there's been at least one TV precedent: The United Network Command for Law Enforcement was always abbreviated as U.N.C.L.E., not UNCLE. See http://fiz-x.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/man-from-uncle-united-network-command-for-law-enforcement.jpg if you're too young to remember. I'm more concerned about them putting "Marvel" out in front of it, like it was something from Tyler Perry or Lee Daniels, like anybody actually interested in watching the show wouldn't already know where it came from. It smacks of hype and self promotion.
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I couldn't agree with you more about this being a Marvel show. I think people are expecting a Whedon greatness from it, forgetting that, as you said, this is a Marvel product and therefore comes with its already pre-established tone and feeling. And yes, Whedon's snappy dialogue and pop-culture refernces make a welcome addition to what could be considered pretty generic superhero fare (that's how I view the Marvel films anyway), but it will never be as good as any of Whedon's other shows.
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It's not that we don't get why there are periods. It's that when you have to write it several times in a review, it's a pain in the ass. And while we all know adding Marvel in front was some studio branding, when it was added it was also to help avoid some legal conflicts with FX over The Shield.
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I have also decided, Amy Acker please. As Illyria she was pretty much an ass kicker and really showed how differently she could play. She doesn't have to be a science geek (clearly there are enough of those) but I would love to see her!
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My two cents..The pilot graded out at a B/B-
Saw most of it in the countless hyped up trailers. (just like The Blacklist,Sleepy Hollow..gotta start cutting trailers a little tighter fellas)
It was a solid hour but there are plenty a plots to explore so i'm excited for the future..New series usually don't find their groove until about the 2nd half of the season anyway. I have really one gripe with the show so far. Couldn't the team have a little more ethnic diversity?(Everyone in the world has read a comic from time to time) Maybe it will be addressed down the line.
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You mean other than Ming-Na and Chloe Bennet (who is half Chinese)?
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Ming Na and Bennet are cool..but in this kind of a show their can't be more of mixture..They are gonna be traveling all over the world supposedly. A multi-diverse team would make sense. Not a big complaint mind you( it is still rare on TV) just something i thought they could bring to the table.
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Whedon's shows are notoriously white. Once people started complaining about it on Buffy, they were sure to add a black man to Angel and Firefly (and incidentally both these actors appeared in this very pilot), and then there was the female Asian in Dollhouse and now here in Agents of SHIELD. My point is - I wouldn't get your hopes up, apparently having one non-white cast member is enough.
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I hadn't seen any trailers for this, but even the buses here in Australia have been covered with posters this past week, so I thought WOW they're really laying it on thick and I personally liked The Avengers the most out of all the Marvel movies so far so I'll give it a watch, and... it was good? I didn't really have too many expectations, and I barely knew what it was about (beyond the name and Wheadon). It wasn't the strongest pilot I've seen, but it was the strongest I've seen in a while because it felt almost like a normal episode (lame as that sounds, that's the best I can think of to explain it).
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Where did you see said bus? I want to steal one! Did the series premiere here on Wednesday as well, or is it this week? I usually find other ways to watch...
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I saw several around Sydney :)

I didn't watch the pilot on TV. Ahem. So I don't know, but no doubt it premiered last week since they were advertising it so heavily.
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I didn't see any here in Melbourne :(

And I checked the TV Week, it'll start airing here on Wednesday, so we'll be a week behind.
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Really? How typical that we'll be behind indeed :( But one week is better than the movies that are month(s) late I guess.
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Is it just me or is this show basically Warehouse 13 meets Alphas?
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Is Warehouse 13 any good? I always avoid genre shows that look too much like procedural/ case-of-week fare, is there much serialised stuff in it? I might have to check it out if there is...
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Yes there is a different mission every week, although there is also an over arching bad guy/theme for each season. It is a show that doesn't take it self too seriously though, if you know what I mean. I recommend you check out the pilot.
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Ok after a second watch I am wondering if Coulson is really a Krull with his memories wiped. That would take a big understanding of the comics to explain but would be an awesome storyline.
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I loved it. The funny lines, the action, the characters...I'll probably tune in for the encore. As for Whedon-alum guest stars, I really hope we'll see Alan Tudyk. And Enver Gjokaj. And could I possibly get some Tahmoh Penikett?
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Umm... I'm sorry not getting the hype here. It was okay, not really bad but not really all that interesting. It had every single secret agent cliche in it like being told bad guys are after you when you already fight them, the old guy (gal in this case) that really don't want to get back to the field etc.

Kaitlin's comment that even the most ADD out there would pay attention is utter crap as I personally couldn't really focus my attention on it and had to do a split screen.

Frankly, "Gunn" was far more interesting than any of the actual main characters. Cause he had actual powers and more importantly, he had actual personality. None of the main characters have any.

The only one that had any sort of personality there was Coulson (who I bet is either a clone or a robot) but we'll give them a couple of more eps to flash things out and see if they succeed.

Not saying the show is bad, but it really isn't wasn't that good either.
It's okay-ish, it has potential but quite frankly, I'm thinking it won't live up to the hype and will likely become a disapointment.

So far, I give it a 7 out of 10. Watchable to pass the time, but will hardly get the "zomg I can't wait for the next episode" factor.

P.S
We get it, it's supposed to get some buzz out of the Avengers movie that was a big hit. Let it go, if the refrences are going to keep coming at this pace it's going to turn from nice, to annoying to sad and pathetic really quick.

Knowing your limit is a good thing.
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I completely agree! and I'm a HUGE Whedon fan and everything... but it didn't have that feel to me! The only thing that felt like Joss's stamp was FitzSimmons. They reminded me of Topher and Ivy :)
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It just felt like I was watching Alphas the entire time.
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Made me miss Alphas which was better so far.
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Is it just me or did the episode was extremely cheesy? even for Whedon. Maybe I'm just getting old.
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it wasn't just you...
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you're not. it was.
especially "the lola" at the end. now be amazed! not.
but maybe im getting old, too.
none of the other whedon series has been that cheesy. (if you dont count the singing episodes of buffy)
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I think I woke up my flat mate when I yelled Shepard at my TV. I love the Whedonverse
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It was good for a pilot and I expect to became great with time.
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And as for Kaitlin's review: I get that being a Whedon's acolyte necessitates a special perspective that I'm not going to be able to understand or embrace. The lack of deeper comic book knowledge may or may not be a problem further on, depending how much the show decides to delve into the overall mythology and utilize Marvel world elements (go poke Noel when in doubt!).

One thesis that I found rather difficult to swallow was that of Whedon's shows being significantly different when it comes to their exploration of humanity. Personally I've always considered some of them rather shallow (Buffy). Certainly not comparable to the depths I've witnessed in Lost (at least earlier seasons), Person of Interest, Fringe, or Supernatural, to name just a few and mostly the ones (except POI) with supernatural elements.
I'm not seeing anything profound in S.H.I.E.L.D either (it's very light so far), but we will see how it develops.

I also reserve the right to become annoyed with all these nicknames or special names for actors who played something else elsewhere. Agent Handsome is going to be really old in a week (why female reviewers on TV.com play this card so regularly while male reviewers don't?), and calling Michael the Extremis Guy some 'Gunn' might've been fun for you, but I imagine I might not be the only one who in the consqeuent second and third paragraph was all like: "who the fuck is Gunn again?"

I appreciate Whedon's humor and much of the pilot's humor, but at the same time I would hope that it won't try to outwit, outsmart, and "outfun" itself. If you overdo on light comedy, you are not going to succeed at eliciting any stronger emotions when the time comes. That was the problem to me with Avengers at times, and it was a huge problem with Iron Man 3 (where it didn't seem to know whether it shouldn't become just a full on slapstick comedy). Hopefully Marvel isn't heading down the ridiculous self-parody path.
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Would you mind elaborately on how Buffy, as a you, was shallow?

Fair enough about your annoyance of all the nicknames used. I'm a huge Whedon fan, so I'll understand them all in regards to actors that have played previous parts on his shows, but names like Mr. Handsome are just unnecessary. It isn't used to shorten the name in anyway, and it doesn't really help readers understand who she's talking about any more or less than using Agent Ward would. So I hope these don't stick.

Although it seems Kaitlin's got a thing for nicknames/ shortenings that I'm now a fan of. She reviews Sleepy Hollow too, and calls the main characters Ichabod, Ike, and decided that the primary Headless Horseman should be called Steve. Why not just Headless Horseman? Every time I read Steve I have no idea who she's talking about.
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I could try.

I only watched Buffy years after its premiere. Long years. Had I started with the show while I was still a teen, I'm pretty sure that my memories and overall feelings would've been much better - based on nostalgia alone. But I didn't.
The TV has really grown and improved over the course of the last decade (and a half), often rivaling the quality not long ago reserved mostly to the cinema. I think that Buffy just doesn't compare as favorably to some of the shows I've mentioned, certainly not when it comes to being dramatic, psychologically deep, spectacular, etc.
I don't want to say that it's horrible. While I found it quite insufferable early on (too much light humor, silly school friends, ridiculous enemies), it does improve at a later point.
Or perhaps I just don't get Whedon as much as some of you. We'll see whether SHIELD actually manages to impress me.

And yeah, Kaitlin and her mannerism will be difficult for me to swallow.
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Not surprisingly, the preceding hype proved to be much bigger than this first offering could ever hope to be (I won't say :"than the show" just yet, because we've seen way too little to be able to make any sweeping general statements). There was simply no way that the pilot would live up to all the expectations. Good thing that I didn't wait for it to, then - no disappointment noted and moderate pleasure gained as a result instead. I like Whedon's work, but I've never been a true fan.

It's all starting on a very small scale, with enough potential for things to get bigger later on. Hopefully the producers won't overdo it with unrelated cases of the week and procedural elements, as that would more than likely muddle this show. Right now it could go in many directions, and I'd like to be surprised at least a few times along the way.

I liked numerous references to previous movies and to an already established world in general. Avengers events or names were being thrown around a plenty, as expected. Less expected were the ties to super soldier experiments from Captain America or the Extremis substance from the latest Iron Man.
I didn't like the somewhat heavy-handed exposition nearly as much. The entire initial conversation between Agents Ward and Hill felt artificial. Two characters telling and showing each other things that they already knew and which were too obvious to repeat (what S.H.I.E.L.D. is about, what happened in New York, what setting they currently find themselves at, etc.). Some will say it's a necessary evil for pilots to deal with, but I prefer if shows take a less obvious, smarter approach.
The between characters discussion about Agent Coulson's death also suffered a bit from the above, but at least it was made that much more interesting by cryptic comments from Hill and the doctor. Seems like we have a twist there.

Mixed feelings about the team so far. I don't dislike them, but I'm not instantly a fan of them either.
Agent Coulson is in good form, as expected. He certainly lives things up, although so far the focus shifts quite heavily towards the comedic value. Is it just me or was Clark Gregg almost constantly smiling to himself?
I found Agent Ward largely okay - not too bland, but also nothing special. Professional, good in combat, going from dry humor to no humor, rather serious, etc. Comfortable average so far.
Agent May played the role of a retired, seen-it-all woman who grudgingly agreed to be dragged back into the action. I wonder if they will throw the "loving mother" card into the mix as well (please no).
Fitz-Simmons were this somewhat typical duo of young, in a way goofy scientists (the guy more so than the gal) who have their own language and means of communication that often confuse the rest. Likeable and fun to watch, but no depth at a first glance. Elizabeth Henstridge kind of reminds me of a young Jennifer Garner, at least in some shots. Perhaps it's the smile.
Skye is the one I'm most unsure about. The way the actress played her, I missed some kind of consistency. At first it reminded me of Root from Person of Interest - potentially unstable. Then cheesy, then playful, having mixed motivations and unusual hacking skills, to finally having a turn around towards being serious. I find it very hard to buy into the entire "hacking a top secret government agency on one's own with just a tiny laptop" or "being a complete mystery and so untraceable". And is she really a part of a bigger organization or mostly working on her own? Perfect groundwork for a potential mole, but it would be so cringeworthy if they went down that way. Oh, and Chloe Bennet makes me think of Claire Bennet from Heroes (funny that she guest starred on Nashville where Hayden Panettiere has her gig).

At first I thought that they were setting Michael The Very Strong Guy to be a natural superhero and a recurring theme of the show, but it turned out to be an experiment in which a good guy gets powers and takes a turn towards being a badass but not so good guy. A workable distraction, but also a typical theme to use. I know, it's meant to represent an average struggling American citizen (coupled with a rousing speech, which was actually a good moment for him and Coulson).
So we had a happy ending where our scientists conjured up a magical solution and Agent Ward didn't have to do something morally wrong. Alright then... At least Agent Coulson has a lovely car, along with a cheesy hovering ability that was a reference in itself.

Finally, a plus for music from Bear McCreary (of Battlestar Galactica fame). He builds up the mood well when more serious, pathos filled moments come along.

So this hasn't blown my mind and it hasn't laid out any unprecedental groundwork as far as TV shows are concerned, but it was a nice enough beginning. I'm going to stay along for a smooth, enjoyable, not overly demanding ride. Time will tell whether it has the potential to turn into something more.
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you know what really made me kinda angry? that michael dude threw one man into icu and beat up 4 others who he may have injured pretty severly and all because some silly chick kicked one of them in the balls and Michael gets "to be ok"? Have a new life with his kid? you cant snuff out consequences of peoples actions just for the sake of the storyline. thats cheap.
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Yeah, they let it slide all too easily. I guess we were supposed to believe he was "under an influence" outside of his control and as such couldn't take full responsibility for his actions. Or something. Not that he seemed terribly unaware of consequences... making it somewhat inconsistent.
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couldn't stop laughing from Coulson's entrance line
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This reminds me too much of Aphas. Damn I miss Alphas.
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I thought it was completely entertaining and that's all I hoped for from the pilot. But, that tech nerd needs to get a personality stat and the biochem woman needs to tone down on the smile.
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Not part of the Whedonverse, but I absolutely loved it. I thought Ward was an extremely captivating male lead. I really want to learn more about him. Coulson claimed that he was nearly as good as Agent Romanov in terms of fighting skills, and considering that Natasha started when she was a child, it makes me very curious as to where and why Ward learned to fight. I hope they actually give him a good story and don't just say he's ex-Marines or something, though the fact that he has a grandmother that he remembers makes me think they'll go that way.

I'm not totally sold on Skye. Like, she's the tech girl, but then we have 2 other tech geeks, and it just seems like way too many cooks in the kitchen. And to me, the other 2 geeks are totally so much cooler and interesting than her. So far, she's just a nosy fangirl with hacker skills. I would not be surprised if SHIELD purposefully let her into their system because it's her and they want her to know what they want her to know. I mean, it is SHIELD. I dunno. She is beautiful to look at, though.

Overall, like you, I saw the family dynamic. Coulson and May as papa and mama. Ward as the eldest brother and the 2 geeks as the lil' siblings. I guess the reason why Skye also feels so off to me is that she didn't really settle into the "family" very well. I'm just not sold, I guess.

Oh well. Still excited! Can't wait to see what's coming.
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BBC BBC BBC. Using the brit serial film style surprised me then excited me. Took me a bit to get used to, but I think the CG looked better because of. Interesting choice. I hope U.S. viewers can handle that element so that the tv WORLD can continue to watch a great show (nielsen ratings).
Good first episode. I will watch and wait with optimism.
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Can you by chance, explain what you mean by the Brit serial film style? I'm genuinely curious. I mean, I'll probably know what you mean by it, once/if you explain...right now it is flying right over my head though.
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I love Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse, Firefly was bit meh for me. I love Whedon's tv sensibility but I wasn't going into this show with extreme expectations because the genre's a bit limited. The Avengers was no better than good, it had reasonably good action and very good comedy but couldn't overcome it's own ridiculousness.

It's a similar thing here where the universe is ridiculous and ungrounded and it looks like it will be burdened by the flat, dryness of middle-ground superhero movies, I think it will struggle to have the same resonance and interest as Whedon's best fare but I liked it reasonably well and will stick around for a fair while.
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The actress that played skye was hot but couldn't act. In fact aside from Colston the acting across the board was abysmal. I wanted to like this I really did but I'm not going to wear fanboy blinders just because its supposed to be marvel. Sorry this pilot was predictable and boring. Nothing new or exciting. Seen this all before. Heroes had a far superior pilot and that show is now ancient.
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