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Life is full of little disappointments... (but no spoilers) Part 2
clint natasha, budapest
So... Agents of SHIELD.

I was really looking forward to this, but I don't wear any fannish goggles when watching the pilot of a TV show, so I have to say it was by no means totally bad or offensive, just very ordinary and with a lot of faults.

For the first thing, I had problems telling one character from t'other. I didn't even recognise Hill for a moment, with her change in hairstyle. All the men were buff brunets and all the women were beautiful brunettes, all Hollywood pretty (except Coulson), all dressed in the standard black (even, damn it, Skye) and all talking much the same 'witty' dialogue which, eventually, stopped being witty.

For the second thing, there were too many groan-making references to Marvel comics - "journey into mystery", "with great power comes great responsibilty", "say cheese" - the last being a bit obscure, but it is Coulson's nickname in the comics.

For the third thing, this is not the deadly, ruthless organisation of the films, but one with a much softer core, that will put innocents in terrible danger because they don't want to kill someone infected with extremis (and why the change in pronunciation from IM3? Of course, the pronunciation here is the one I have always used mentally, but all the same...) because he has a young son (and is black?) And how the hell did they cure him of extremis without involving Tony Stark? And this reminder of IM3 also reminds us of SHIELD's non-appearance in that movie when the country was under desperate terrorist threat. Not a good idea. Which is an example of the fourth thing: plot problems. And Skye's quick conversion is also ludicrous.

Yes, I like Coulson. I happen to think that reviving him under fan pressure devalues the Avengers movie (though there are hints that he is an LMD, or a clone, or imported from the past or another place in the multiverse) but I have always liked the character. (He seems to have been vaguely based on Jasper Sitwell, though there is also a Jasper Sitwell in the MCU, and I have always liked 616 Jasper.) However, the past record of characters/series brought back under fan pressure is not a good one.

Nice to see the flying car, though as these are SHIELD's main means of transport in the comics it was hardly a surprise.

It's a pilot. Pilots are rarely the best thing about a series. Let's hope it gets better.

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Agreed, I was a bit `meh' about it. None of the characters really grabbed me (even Coulson) and the plot was a bit of a mundane runaround with technobabble saving things at the end of the day.

Over on Facebook, Helen McCarthy has just reminded me, inadvertently, of the very earliest days of SHIELD and its creator, Jim Steranko, one of the great names in American comic book, both as an illustrator (oh, wow, as an illustrator) and as a writer. Apparently, he doesn't like Agents of SHIELD and I can't say I blame him. He invented or adopted some of the most iconic of SHIELD characters: the Contessa, Jasper Sitwell (some of whose characterisation was repeated in Coulson), Dum Dum Dugan and Clay Quartermain, all of whom were immediately distinguishable from each other in their looks, how their dialogue was written, and how they acted.

MCU SHIELD is the SHIELD of a much later tradition - mainly the alternate/nastier Ultimates line - and the work of Brian Bendis, who invented Maria Hill who was close to being a villain at various points.

It's odd, because I'd have said one of Whedon's strengths was his ability to quickly create distinctive characters, even if initially they are done with fairly simple broad brush strokes. But I got nothing from any of the ones here save Petersen.

I don't know the comics at all, so missed all that.

For all its weaknesses, I think this pilot lays a reasonably solid foundation stone for the series and have hopes that things will get better despite the cliches.

I adored the flying car, which made me laugh out loud in delighted surprise.

I liked the realisation of SHIELD's flying cars, but was expecting it.

I hope it will get better, I really do. I'm a great admirer of Joss Whedon, particularly of Buffy and Firefly (though I have difficulties with both in some respects, particularly some the world building in the latter.)

I haven't actually watched the pilot yet, but we hav it recorded and I was hoping it would be OK.

Like you, I don't know the comics so your comment encourages me that perhaps not knowing will allow me to enjoy the series due to having no preconceptions.

I just got caught up with it via Hulu. That weird fight in the tower penthouse -- all I could think was, "Geez, all these white guys look alike!" I couldn't figure out who was who for the life of me. Not to mention, why didn't the blond chick freak out? That entire sequence was just surreal and senseless.

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