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A Lesson in Humility

Agents of SHIELD Bosses Respond to All The Bad Things You’ve Been Saying About Their Show

It’s hard to think of a recent show that was more highly anticipated than Agents of SHIELD. Marvel! Coulson! He lives! Full disclosure: I don’t watch the show. But, being the in the profession I’m in, cultural osmosis has given me what I think is an accurate impression of the general reaction to the show: It’s generic. It’s slow. Coulson’s the only interesting character. There’s potential, but it doesn’t live up to it. Did I come close?

Showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen have heard your complaints, and in an interview with Comic Book Resources they responded to them.

“Overall the response has been positive,” said Whedon, “But there was also a lot of anticipation for this show and inevitably, not everyone got what they wanted.” In response to the criticism that Agents of SHIELD doesn’t feel like a “Marvel” show—which I’m guessing ties in with the complaint that it comes across a generic procedural?—Whedon had this to say:

“We are definitely a Marvel show. We double-checked with them just now and they told us so. But as to looking like a Marvel show—there is always room to improve on every front, but I think some of the negativity toward our TV show comes with the fact that it is just that: a TV show. Being held up against the Marvel films, which are the biggest, most exciting movies around. We’re generating more content with a fraction of the budget in a fraction of the time, but each episode still has that Marvel flipbook at the top, and the expectation that comes with it, which is very high. And well-earned.”

Tancharoen elaborated, pointing that they have 22 hours of programming to fill compared to a movie’s two, so people whining that Agents of SHIELD is slow need to have patience until we get to the good stuff, dammit. Well, no, she didn’t say that. Her actual answer (“We’ve spent a lot of time in the early part of the season setting things up, laying foundation. As we approach the back half, some of this set up will pay off. This has been the plan from the start.”) was much more polite.

But that plan is mutable—”We won’t keep doing things if people don’t respond to them,” noted Whedon, “and we take fan reaction into consideration, of course. However, we’ve always had a plan in place that all involved parties feel is both rewarding to those who already love the show, and to those who feel they are not getting everything they want out of it yet. But you can’t please everyone, and when you don’t, they seem to tweet at you.”

That last bit is certainly true. Among the elements people aren’t pleased about is a perceived lack of character development or depth. Tancharoen says to cool your jets on that, too:

“Our intent is to create interest in the characters, along with a desire to know more about them, then peel back the layers slowly but surely. It’s amazing how much people hate the word slowly these days. All of our characters are spies—with the exception of Skye, who is fast becoming one—and are trained to play things close to the vest. But yes, as the season and show progresses, we’ll be uncovering more and more about our characters… as well as meeting some new ones.”

What do you think? Is “JFC, we’re getting there, calm down” an insufficient excuse for sluggish storytelling and boring characters? Or are people are judging the show based on unfair expectations? After all, Firefly started slow, too. Like I said, I have no horse in this race. But I know a lot of you will be tuning in for the show’s post-holiday return tonight, so maybe you have some things to say on the subject. There is one interview response that everyone should agree with:

If you had the opportunity to use any one character from Marvel canon on the show, regardless of studio barriers, who would it be?

Tancharoen: Doctor Doom.

Whedon: Or Elf With A Gun.

Tancharoen: Elf With A Gun, definitely.

(CBR via Digital Spy)

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  • HamsterMasterSamster

    I think the show has been getting better, sorta. F.Z.Z.T, was the first ep that really stood out for me, so I definitely won’t argue against it being slow to get going. Since then, it’s been better than at the start, though never compulsive viewing. I’ll continue to watch it, mostly for the Coulson mystery. I just hope that once that’s pulled apart, there’s enough left to keep me viewing.

  • Elwyne

    It’s nice to hear from showrunners who have some respect for their fans, and don’t automatically put them down. These two didn’t have to say a word; that they did, and politely, speaks volumes for them.

    As for the show, it ain’t Firefly, but what is? We’ve enjoyed it so far, and plan to continue enjoying it for as long as Marvel and the Whedon clan make it possible.

  • Anonymous

    A lot of Whedon’s shows start off slow. Buffy the Vampire was ridiculous in the first season, but got better and better as it went along. You mentioned Firefly and that got amazing as it went on. Additionally, I know Dollhouse gets a lot of flack about being sexist and rapey, but I always feel like it was from the people who only watched the beginning episodes and didn’t see how much the show itself criticized the idea of the Dollhouse and how icky it was.

    I still have high hopes for Agents of SHIELD and am willing to give them a whole season before I judge it completely. We’ve already even got a few really good episodes (usually when they don’t focus on Skye) – thinking of the eye implant, alien virus contamination.

  • EleniRPG

    I remember thinking the first season of Fringe was too much of a procedural and kind of slow, and I wasn’t very inspired by Olivia or Peter. I might not have made it through the first season if my roommate at the time wasn’t so enamored with Joshua Jackson. But boy am I glad I did, because after that it became one of my all-time favorite shows. So sure, I’m willing to give Agents of SHIELD more time. I still see potential.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    I’ve enjoyed the show very much since the first episode. A lot of the complaints seem to be along the lines of “where are the superheroes, why aren’t there superheroes in every episode, when is [insert your favourite Avenger here] going to do a cameo”.

    But the show was never positioned as a “superhero of the week” show – it’s always been positioned as a show about the people who support the superheroes. Someone (it may even have even been one of the Whedons or Ms. Tancharoen, I don’t know) used the phrase “Marvel’s version of the X-Files”, which is a good description, I think.

  • Steve McMullan

    Ha! That last question was mine!

  • Anonymous

    I do understand where they’re coming from and really hope things start to kick off in the back half, but… I’ve seen a few shows that essentially waste the first half of a season just so they can cram everything into the second half and get the ratings and reviews to get renewed and that drives me crazy. Granted, getting a full season order wasn’t a sure thing for them at first, but I definitely prefer shows that spread the wealth a bit rather than banking everything into the finale buildup. I really hope the rest of the season gathers steam and that it continues through the beginning of a potential second season rather than dying out again just so they can play their cards close.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think they’re making the same show that people are watching.

  • ACF

    Well, I really enjoy the show, so…no excuse necessary as far as I’m concerned.

  • Troy Lenze

    A few meaty breadcrumbs (eww) would have been nice early in the show, though. Instead of trying to keep everyone mysterious for as long as possible, I would have liked a big reveal of some kind in the first five episodes.

    I’m waiting until I can binge watch this and feel like progress was made after watching four episodes in a row.

  • Patrick Quin Kermott

    I’ve watched the show since day one and started out fairly unimpressed. But realistically, it’s par for the course for Whedon shows. The beginning episodes of Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse AND Firefly were all fairly lackluster. But those episodes all led into more complex, ultimately addictive worlds. So I tend to give Whedon shows a bit more patience to unfold than I would with most other shows. I haven’t been let down yet.

  • Anonymous

    I think a lot of it is people were expecting a Marvel universe show. What we got is like the X-Files but with less interesting (and more obnoxious) characters.

    My two cents? It was too early to make this show. They mention some of the things fans and viewers are complaining about the most (no superheroes; a lack of superpowers in general) are due to the fact that the movies are still relatively light on those elements, and they’re correct. There aren’t a lot of superhuman people in the movies so it would be a little jarring to have a show full of people who can shoot lightning and pick up buildings.

    But if that’s the case, they should’ve just waited until the movies were farther along. The Netflix shows already sound much more like what the fans were hoping for.

  • Anonymous

    Also: the show really needs better dialogue. The overuse of snark and pop culture references is supposed to make the characters cheeky and endearing but it mostly makes them come cross as really annoying. Skye is probably the one who I WANT to like so badly (she’s a rare WOC in the MCU and has a fairly interesting backstory) but her dialogue is just SO GRATING.

  • Faradn

    I don’t think Firefly slow–especially with the character development. That said I should probably give Shield the benefit of the doubt given Whedon’s track record.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a big Whedon fan and even I have problems with the show. I don’t find the characters as compelling as those from his previous shows and that’s the thing that always made me accept the weaknesses they had at the beginning. And the speed at which they “peel the layers” of their characters and tell their secrets is way too slow. At some point, if you take too much time to move the story, people will lose interest, which is what is happening right now.

  • Anonymous

    Guys no, having the characters go “how is Coulson not dead???” every 30 minutes does not set up any mysteries to be discovered or such not at this point does it count as “playing it close to the vest”, it just comes off as “okay we have ONE GOOD IDEA and let’s see over how many episodes we can stretch it out!”

  • Marian Librarian

    What disappoints me about this interview is that it’s so full of excuses that blame the audience.
    “People are so afraid of the word “slow.”
    This is your job. Your job is to create an interesting show that we want to watch that has characters that we want to invest our time in. You can take your time with setting up larger plotlines, but if you want me to stick around to watch them you shouldn’t be “slow” about the characters and storylines you are presenting. I like how this is our fault as an audience that we aren’t patient enough. I’m not even wanting superheroes or explosions here, I want to care about these people. That’s not because of “the demands of an impatient fandom” that’s just storytelling 101.
    And yes, Firefly started a bit slow, but I cared about members of the cast far before the number of episodes SHIELD has presented.
    I’m so annoyed, because Joss Whedon and co. have been cashing in all the credit they got for fans not taking a chance on Firefly and letting it be cancelled to get us to keep watching things like Dollhouse and SHIELD, which are just inferior shows, yet we watch them out of Firefly-related guilt thinking, “Just one more episode and it will become amazing just like Firefly!” Eventually, they’re going to have to get viewer loyalty the old-fashioned way- by creating a good show.

  • Anonymous

    Like everyone else, I tend to give Whedon shows the benefit of the doubt early on, since generally once they hit their stride, they’re pretty damn good. I’m still hopeful that once everyone’s crap is laid bare, we’re going to get a more interesting show. Although man, the one reveal they did, Melinda May’s backstory as to why she’s called “The Cavalry” was WAY disappointing. Well, more like, I mind that the reason she’s called “The Cavalry” and the reason she decided to stop being a field agent were the same thing. I feel like it would’ve been much stronger character development if the two were separate things, because right now, it seems the mysteries of Melinda May have been solved. They haven’t, clearly, but it sure does feel like it.

  • Anonymous

    “Did I come close?”


  • Anonymous

    If I didn’t have a previous interest in the Marvel Universe I wouldn’t bother watching it. And that might just be the worst thing I can say about it since… isn’t part of the show’s job to provide a more constant Marvel presence that can be used to turn potential fans into actual fans? And that just isn’t working.

    I understand why the show doesn’t look as good as the movies, but I don’t understand why it looks blander than other TV shows.

    I understand it’s a first season and it might be slow. You know what other shows have just had their first Seasons? Hannibal, Orphan Black, Sleepy Hollow and a ton of others all of which I at least found more instantly engaging.

  • AnnaB

    It’s hard to compare SHIELD to Buffy and Firefly. Maybe for some people Buffy and Firefly started slow, but for some other people, Buffy and Firefly hit it out of the park in the first two or three episodes. I’m not saying your opinion of the slow start of Buffy and Firefly is invalid. It’s perfectly valid. I’m saying that with SHIELD, it’s just been collectively a downer for way too many episodes than is necessary for so many viewers. You and I are similar in that we have high hopes for SHIELD and are willing to watch the whole season, and many of my friends say the same, then the other half is just done with it. It’s very rare that I’ve heard anyone tell me that they love it and just can’t get enough of it. I’m watching it for Whedon at this point and that’s really all it has going for it right now.

  • Anonymous

    “As for the show, it ain’t Firefly, but what is?”

    Yeah, it actually has Asian characters. :P

    (Still like Firefly, but that still rankles.)

  • Mark Matson

    Actually, I think Firefly was by far the fastest developing show Whedon has done. Sadly ironic.

    Buffy started out slow. I don’t even consider Buffy Buffy until “School Hard”. Before then it was mostly monster of the week, even with Angel and The Master story lines. BUT… “Witch” was one of the better “monster of the week” episodes and was the first after the two part pilot. That helped a lot.

  • Mark Matson

    My daughter and I dropped the show just before it supposedly got much better. Someday I’ll perhaps revisit that.

  • Mark Matson

    This show won’t really hit its stride until it sets up movies instead just the other way around. Same with the other Marvel shows under development.

    I think one of the problems is the show is already in an existing Marvel universe that they want to expand, so they have to be very careful with all the Marvel properties. They can’t just toss in an existing hero or villain, because they may want to use that character elsewhere. Done perfectly, they’d sprinkle in these characters already cast for the other endeavors, but that is easier said than done.

    Over time, I think it will be there, if it survives, but it isn’t yet.

  • Anonymous

    It reminds me of cheesy shows like Bones, where you could see the obvious direction the two main characters relationship was going but it took a gazillion seasons to get there.

    SHIELD suffers from a lot of cheese, and not in the good way. I wouldn’t be watching it now if it weren’t for some of the people involved.

  • John W

    I don’t understand when they say there still trying to lay the foundation. Isn’t that what the movies were for? The show is called MARVEL’S Agents of SHIELD.

    We know what SHIELD is, what they do, we know who Coulson is and his place in the Marvel Universe. Ready, set, go.

  • Skol Troll

    “Being held up against the Marvel films,” Or… Buffy, or Firefly, or even non-Whedon stuff like Arrow, BSG, or even Smallville. (BTW, AoS is not as interesting as Smallville… so there. Stick that in your Lola and smoke it.)

    You don’t win a race by yelling at the leaders to slow down. You win by getting better.

  • CyberIstari

    I’ll agree on the first season. I stayed for John Noble (and, yes, Joshua Jackson ;)). But then, bam! Any show that can turn so quickly into the (more ;)) weird with alternate universes (and I’m a sucker for good AUs) with Leonard Nimoy? Sold. ;)

  • brilance

    The problem is that there are so many other new shows (Sleepy Hollow) and shows in the same genre (Arrow) that started fast out of the gate, without the same slow/boring/generic issues that AoS is having.

    AoS has some tough competition, and viewers only have so much limited time in a day. Maybe it’s not fair, exactly, but right now it seems like they are leaning heavily on the Marvel “name” to get people to watch, when these other shows have actually pulled fans in on their own merits.

  • Anonymous

    Firefly wouldn’t have started slow if it hadn’t been for the episode shuffle. The first episode, where we meet everyone, packs in diverse threads and sudden switches like a Simpsons episode. We get multiple plotlines and glimpses of characters and all sorts of mysteries. Unfortunately, the train heist episode, while fun, was less engrossing.

    (It’s funny, because I was reading through this article and thinking of the SHIELD episodes I’ve seen, which have evoked a lot of “Where the heck is the complex whirlwind of plot and background that was the Firefly premier?” from me.)

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, I’m finding the cookie-cutter characters a bit bland. Dollhouse’s characters had blanked minds and still showed more unique personalities.

  • ♫ Lexi Caballero ♥

    Seconded. Although I am holding out hope for some crossovers with Agent Carter and the Netflix batch.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    I actually like the snark and pop culture references. It’s refreshing to see a series that actually acknowledges that hey, the characters might watch TV and read pop culture books and such in their downtime.

  • Anonymous

    Which would be fine if that wasn’t 99 percent of what their dialogue consisted of. It becomes very grating after a while.

  • Jeremy

    Really? My complaint has been (except for Coulson) the dull characters and quite possibly the wooden actors playing them (this could be a symptom of the first). The two all-American “leads” (after Coulson that is) just seem so… plain. Like, not a lot there. Again, a symptom of dull characters.
    And “quirky tech support” has really been done to death already hasn’t it?
    There’s slow, and then there’s the appearance of not being able to do cool stuff because Marvel doesn’t want to accidentally break something for the future.
    But then I must admit I’m behind on episodes so maybe there’s a sudden big improvement I haven’t seen yet?

  • Jamie Jeans

    Uhh, yeah, I think I heard this line of defence from people who tried getting me into Scott PIlgrim, which I found slow, boring, and offensively stupid.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve said almost from the beginning that Doom should be the big bad behind it all, but people keep saying that FOX has the rights to the Fantastic Four. I still say it’s a good idea.

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, it’s basically, “You guys just don’t get what we’re trying to do.” I don’t mind a show being slow, but at least give us a compelling character to follow…all they gave us was Skye. It might not have been so bad if they had just focused on a single plot. Instead, they jammed a whole bunch of ‘mysteries’ at us without even giving much information on any one of them. so i don’t know, maybe it is just lack of focus.

  • Anonymous

    That’s what gets me. Basically every defense I’ve seen so far is “Whedon shows take a while to get good” or “Give it some more time!” Maybe I’ve just been spoiled, but even for shows that didn’t hit their stride until later seasons, there was at least something interesting enough to keep me watching. The Wire and Breaking Bad both come to mind.

    Even if the plan is “all the good stuff finally starts happening in the post-hiatus episodes”, that’s pretty poor plotting. The first half of your season shouldn’t be generic filler just so you can save the fun stuff for later.

  • strega2012

    Love that.

  • Stealthfire

    Couldn’t agree more. The first season of Whedon shows tend to suck. It takes a while for the characters to settle and for the writers to find what direction really works for the show. If you look at early Buffy, Angel, and Dollhouse, all of them use sort of cheesy monster-of-the-week plots in the first season. I just started an Angel rewatch, and while season one has some good episodes about midway through (“I Will Remember You”), it’s not until the last few episodes of the season that it really gets great. The rest is a bit of a slog, and that’s even with already knowing and liking all of the characters.

    As for people who don’t like SHIELD’s characters (personally Ward bores me to tears)…wait a while. No one stays the same on a Whedon show. I could barely stand 5 minutes of Wesley in S3 of Buffy. By late Angel, he was one of my favorite characters.

    If we’re still in this spot by this time next year, I’ll jump on the hate bandwagon. But even the much maligned Dollhouse went some brilliant places in its later episodes, and I’m willing to give AoS the benefit of the doubt.

  • Anonymous

    I am all about Agent Coulson. Clark Gregg is getting me to watch, and I will gladly give it the whole season to get going.

  • Moose

    “All of our characters are spies….and are trained to play things close to the vest. ” what is that supposed to mean? Like all characters look to the camera and tell the audience how they’re feeling! I don’t know if she was trying to be glib but I’m pretty sure we picked up character definition in OTHER movies/shows with spies. That just came across, to me, as insulting. I watched the first 3 episodes of this show and lost interest slowly but fell off the cliff into ‘don’t care’ when that Samuel L Jackson cameo was shoe-horned onto the end of the episode where the plane was ruined. Tacked on and didn’t fit at all with the Nick Fury character. Seriously, would Fury really give a shit about the plane getting busted to fuck THAT much? Maybe ‘BAMF’ was overplaying it but it took me completely out of the show from then on.

  • Anonymous

    You know how you “lay the foundation” for a good show? By giving us strong, compelling characters so we can become invested in them. Agree that setting down a framework for the Marvel universe isn’t really necessary. A majority of the audience is already familiar with it and for the random mundanes you’re trying to entice I’m pretty sure they can figure things out without the need for baby steps.

  • Anonymous

    You aren’t really missing much. Which is a sad thing to say about a show with Coulson in it. I think the only really relevant material so far has been what happened to Coulson and you can get that from TMS’s episode summary tomorrow.

  • DonnaBrazileRocks

    The show seems to suffer from a lack of a consistent tone. Personally, Eye Spy and The Hub were my favorite episodes. They actually had clear direction and interesting settings and characters.

    I think the show would benefit from getting rid of the plane and keeping the characters at SHIELD HQ. This way they wouldn’t have to keep on spending money on the plane special effects. Also, the the plane setting doesn’t really seem to do much for me? It kind of feels constricting, and I don’t personally love the look of the plane set.

    This move would have the added benefit of expanding the cast. One of my favorite things about Arrow since its first season has been its strong, varied, and ever-cycling supporting cast. You can only see the main six bounce off of each other for so long. Bringing in supporting characters would help enrich the main cast and their relationships. What they could do is cycle out members each mission. Members of the team kind of seem extraneous each episode.

    Like, the showrunners say themselves SHIELD is supposed to be a spy agency, the characters are supposed to be spies. It doesn’t really feel like it? Bring in new people, show conflicting motivations and complex and intriguing politics.

    ALIAS was really a lot closer to what this show needs to be: intriguing spy stories about clashing organizations set against a world with fantastical elements.

  • Nick Gaston

    “Ha, ha, they’d want to use Elf With a Gun”…no, wait. Actually, I’d *like* to see that; fighting, encountering, or investigating even a Marvel D or E lister every week.

    Hell, you could do an episode where the team is captured and put in the nightmarish psychedelic labyrinth of…Street Poet Ray. Have a string of murders committed by one of the anthropomorphized household hazard villains from old Marvel PSA comics. Bring back the Dire Wraiths…it’s sixty years of forgotten comics canon to work with; you can’t have sold the rights off to ALL of it.

  • Joel Rolston

    I just watch the show for Clark Gregg’s sake. I like Agent Coulson, because it was his death that rallied the Avengers together. And the fact that he’s still alive means that this character is not your average joe. Phil Coulson is the guy that everyone likes and wants to be friends with. How can people not want to watch this show for him and him alone?

  • Joel Rolston

    If you think about the cases that Coulson’s team has taken on, it makes sense in retrospect why things first seemed so scattered. The Bus is compiled of a team that goes case by case, until they realize the cases they are getting are actually not random. Everything has actually been connected to Centipede. I have a feeling that Nick Fury knew about Centipede for a long time, and trusted Coulson to be the one to rally a team and take them down.

  • Anonymous

    I kind of agree with this. The Bus has been a useful setting once or twice, but otherwise hasn’t really been put to good use, other than getting them from Point A to Point B. I get the sort of image they were trying to go for by having Coulson’s team being its own little ragtag unit away from the main group, but I’m not sure it’s working, so far. Plus if they want to build up some iffiness about SHIELD’s operating procedures and/or alliances, it would help to have a group of “normal” agents around so we could compare them to how Coulson’s team operates. We’ve gotten a breadcrumb here or there about it, but it’s been more tell than show.

  • Kojiro James

    Funny, I’ve been loving the show so far. I guess different strokes for different folks.

  • Ria Narai

    It most definitely doesn’t have sluggish storytelling or boring characters (imo). So I really don’t think the showrunners need to be making any excuses (but I am glad that they clarified their position, which is exactly what I expected!).

    I just don’t understand people’s reactions to it, I think it’d be MORE boring if we had everything neatly explained and laid out in the first few episodes – where do you go from there? They’ve been giving us fun stories and letting us get to know the characters, while building the anticipation up and up and up the more they reveal! I for one have been loving it, but am still glad to know that yep, they are building up to some nice big revelations in the latter half of the season.

  • Anonymous

    I’m perfectly fine with it not adding characters from the Marvel comics; that’s not what I watched it for. I watched it because I wanted something like Fringe, tied into a movie universe that I was enjoying. But it’s not nearly as good as Fringe, which had complex and developed characters from the first episode, where Agents of Shield’s characters are still flat and the show is extremely cavalier about government powers. The message seems to be “Government agents are good, well-meaning people, so there’s nothing wrong with giving them virtually unlimited authority and surveillance.” Which is flat-out wrong. I was hoping the character of Skye would be someone who effectively challenged that perspective, rather than a straw man.

  • Fannish

    I suggest you check the #AgentsofSHIELD tag on twitter to get an accurate picture of the wider community and just how many people are actually LOVING the show. Don’t be mislead by the noisy fanboys who want superheroes and/or “adult” material (sex, blood & guts and bad language) and are clearly a minority when you look at a less biased medium like twitter. A lot more people are really enjoying this show than some sites would like you to believe.

  • Foxfire

    Not at all, the good Whedon shows were great from episode 1. I really love the first episode of Firefly. I love the first episode of Buffy. Loved the first episode of Angel.

    I still don’t care about the characters in AoS after 6 or 7 episodes (I stopped watching). If it is going to take your show more than six episodes then I’m sorry, but have you seen the quality of TV this year? I don’t have enough time to give you.

  • Anonymous

    When they say ‘stick with it’ I actually think they mean ‘There’s stuff we can’t do yet even if we really wanted to’.

    Right from the first episode, when we were introduced to the Bus, I was
    convinced the scene was being set for the team to go ‘rogue’. For the
    moment, however, I think The showrunners have been afraid to show
    anything by the barest
    of hints at dissention in the ranks between Coulson’s team on the bus
    and Shield itself. And it’s true you do have to establish a status quo before shaking it up.

    To that end, I reckon that Captain America – Winter Soldier is actually going to be the catalyst that blows the show open. Once Coulson sees his favourite hero break ranks, I think we’re really going to start delving into all the murky things Shield gets up to.

    It’s all speculation, but I think we’ll be getting ‘rogue agent’ Coulson vs Shield, with probable covert support from Dir. Fury. Or should that be EX Dir. Fury…?

  • Charles

    After reading all the criticisms I think I must be watching a different show! I agree it was a little slow to start with (I always just assumed that was because I’m not very familiar with the Marvel Universe) but I have really warmed to the characters.

  • Layn

    I just really don’t like how they’ve been doing character development.They bring in huge backstory elements when i’m still struggling with caring about the characters!
    “I’m like this because of my relationship with my brother” wait wait wait, keep that for later! I don’t care right now! STOP TELLING ME THINGS.

  • Joanna

    Perhaps Whedon has just been out of TV for so long that he hasn’t quite caught up with the standard these days. You have to admit that the standard for the quality of TV shows has been pretty high in the last 10 years. I reckon Whedon just needs to get with the times.

  • Guymelef

    Exactly this. My problem is not that the show has started off slow, but that the characters are so so dull. Buffy, Angel, Dollhouse, etc all started off ‘slow’, but I was interested in the characters from the very beginning, which kept me watching until the actual storylines picked up. AOS doesn’t even have that. Whedon and Tancharoen are hardly newbs to the whole TV business, so they shouldn’t need an entire season in order to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

  • Joanna

    I dunno. The first season of Buffy was like the crazy adventures of Mary Sue and co. It was pretty terrible for ages.

  • Guymelef

    Exactly. It reeks of trying too hard to be hip and trendy and quotable.

  • Joanna

    Well hey, maybe if the creators are listening to criticism then we can expect improvement.

  • Guymelef

    Doom has also featured extensively in the Avengers (as far as I’m aware), so I wonder if there might be the same option there as exists with Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (i.e. free for common use). I’d be surprised if they used him on the TV show though, considering he is a triple A villain.

  • Starman

    I don’t think Agents of SHIELD is a bad show. But it’s not ever going to inspire the passion I feel about Arrow or Doctor Who.

  • CyberIstari

    Actually, quite happy with last night’s ep – Coulson (and we got to see the “A Funny Thing…” Coulson, which is what seems to have really sold Clark Gregg on sticking with the character ;)) doesn’t have answers yet, but he knows something happend. And I’m convinced now they should have been doing post-modern Mission:Impossible all along…

  • Nuuni Nuunani

    Umm…Im appareently not as well versed in Marvel as I thought I was…Is ‘Elf with a gun’ really a character? @_@

  • Matthew Hickman

    Everything Needs elf with a Gun

  • Compulsive Collector

    FOX holds the rights to use Fantastic Four characters in movies, not in a television series.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    Yeah, I have to agree with you on “quirky tech support”. Although I have to admit, I’m sort of in tech support and I’m pretty quirky, so maybe it’s not so far off! :)

    Seriously, though, I’d love to see in just one show someone who does tech support and isn’t at the far end of the “quirk” spectrum.

  • Eve

    I didn’t just find the characters dull and plain in the beginning. The writing, to me, was painfully bad at times with brief moments of good. The plots were not inspired and they kept throwing away more interesting characters by turning them into a villain-of-the-week or a victim-of-the-week or a hybrid of both. Recent episodes have improved, but there’s something wrong with your cast when people would rather have the guest stars stick around and the normal cast members killed off.

  • Lizikins

    I understand it’s a first season and it might be slow. You know what
    other shows have just had their first Seasons? Hannibal, Orphan Black,
    Sleepy Hollow and a ton of others all of which I at least found more
    instantly engaging.

    This so much! Sleepy Hollow I was instantly hooked on and continue to be. SHIELD not so much :/. I was really looking forward to it (SHIELD), too, but after the first episode I was just not enthusiastic.

  • Anonymous

    Think of it like salt. A little salt added to a dish can enhance the flavor and bring out nuances you might miss. But if you dump a whole bag into the pot, all you can taste is salt and the dish itself can become indistinguishable. Salt isn’t meant to be the main ingredient.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t say I need everything explained to me up front. I think Coulson’s Tahiti arc worked very well and it wouldn’t have been half as much fun if we’d gotten that explanation in the first few eps.

    However, Coulson is the exception rather than the rule. I find the rest of the characters to be so overwhelmingly cliché that it’s hard to feel anything for them other than frustration. They’ve been making good inroads with FitzSimmons, but Ward is still pretty much a walking stereotype and Skye is straight from central casting, sass and all. May is being played as so aggressively shuttered that even in the ep that was supposed to shed light on her background we get basically nothing. As with so many other things, these elements are good in small doses, but if that’s all there is to them it gets boring.

    Have we gotten hints that they’re starting to develop personalities of their own? Sure, here and there. Is it enough? I tend to lean towards “no.” So far even their development tends to be along expected lines, following the same paths laid down by countless other similar characters before them. For me right now, Ward is as interesting as sawdust, Skye could die in the next ep and I’d only feel relief, and May continues to disappoint although I still have a glimmer of hope she’ll eventually become more interesting. Probably around season 3 at this rate.

    I don’t mind shows that are slow to develop as long as it’s clear that the pacing will improve. I’ve seen little evidence of that so far and all the excuse-making from the producers isn’t really bolstering my confidence. People keep mentioning Buffy and Firefly, but what SHIELD reminds me of right now is Dollhouse: an interesting concept hampered by dull leads and a plot that never bears fruit until it’s too late. Producers kept making excuses for that show, too, and promising if we waited long enough we’d be happy with it. I wasn’t. The only reason I stuck with it was because of Victor and Sierra, two secondary characters who were, for me, the only well-conceived and properly developed thing about the show. SHIELD is falling into those same lines. There’s FitzSimmons and Coulson and that’s pretty much it. “Taking it slow” is fine… as long as it actually moves forward at some point.

  • Lisa Liscoumb

    Good point – I hadn’t thought of it like that.

  • athenia45

    I wasn’t expecting superheroes, but when you remove the whole reason for Shield’s existence and replace it with some vague boogey monster that’s explained with very dull dialogue, you’re not giving me a reason to care. :(

  • athenia45

    But that’s the problem—it’s not even X-files. They aren’t solving mysteries and covering them up. In fact, I can’t even describe to you what SHIELD actually does.

  • St. Jason

    I think the real problem is that the show wants to have its cake and eat it too. On one hand they are trying to distance themselves from the movies and create their own world while also constantly referring to the events in the movies and trying to tie them in. It’s little wonder there is confusion and a feeling of let down when they spend a lot of each show talking about the big stars of the marvel universe while never showing or interacting with them.

    While it might be unfair I’m going to compare it to Arrow because I picked up the show late and started watching it the same time that Agents of SHIELD started. Watching both shows at the same time I found I really liked Arrow a lot while disliking SHIELD. When I thought about it what I really liked about Arrow is that the entire season felt like it was building toward something. We got the list and his goal right away and it all ways felt like the show was going somewhere. It did a good job of building momentum and when it got toward the end the big reveals and finale felt big and important and really held weight.

    I think this is what SHIELD has been missing. The characters feel boring to me because I don’t feel like they are going anywhere. They have set up some long game plot points like what happened to Coulson I still don’t feel like we have a big over-arcing goal or theme for the season. I get distancing yourself from the movies but with the depth of the marvel universe it seems dumb to create all new original enemies and organizations.

    Also the characters could not be more generic and boring. I was never a huge fan of Coulson and he just does not have the charisma or interest to be a leading character.

  • Joel Rolston

    Why? It’s actually very good writing. Almost every case they have had during this season is rooted in Centipede. However, I keep wondering when we will first see Graviton after his accident.

  • The Lewd Ood

    I think they need to binge-watch Arrow to see how a comic book-based show should be done.

    It’s like Arrow’s built on this formula:
    Character development + continuous backstory exploration + a steady stream of new villains + tons of easter eggs for comic book fans in every episode + action that isn’t simply guns and explosions = entertainment.

    … while AoS seems to be built on this:
    The Marvel name + Coulson + ??? = PROFIT!

  • mb presents

    i know ….. i was so looking forward to see one of the tech support die … which is horrible i’ve never really felt like that about a cast.. what kept me away is that the cast looks so generic.. i’m so used to JW shows having an interesting looking cast … but this time i’m always busy wondering why skye looks so much like another actress. when i look at the femail tech suport i see hermione grangers for some reason..

    i prefered messed up topher a hundred times over these two generic looking “quirky” ones

    and i’ve never watched a whedon show where i knew in advance how the main character storyline would play out .. very unconcerting .. or maybe i’m just getting old

    my feeling was that JW having to work so closly with marvel didn’t have nearly as much freedom of choice as he used to have when he created his own stories.. it’s a shame really.

  • chris

    I keep trying to watch it honestly, but Skye and Vanilla boy keep holding me back. The prob IMO is that theyre too generic looking and not very strong actors. They bore me. I DONT want to know more about them, if anything they detract from the story line by their presence…. still gonna keep watching but its a chore at this point.

  • chris

    Exactly what I just commented on. Had I read this before I would have said DITTO!

  • chris

    skye is a WOC? in what universe ? she is THE most bland vanilla mashed potato milky thing out there…..her hair should be white she is so bland! but I agree with the rest of your statement

  • Anonymous

    Most of my friends who have started to watch Buffy on Netflix think the show is cheesy, slow and a little hard to get through for season one. They also dislike a lot of the characters (Xander was a total asshole until later seasons). I’m just hearing a lot of their complaints about Buffy/Angel/Firefly/Dollhouse in the complaints about AoS, which is why I’m still willing to give AoS a go.

  • Aeryl

    I liked how they confirmed that SHIELD is lying to him, without still revealing what the truth is. I like being tantalized. What was that green thing? Is it another infinity stone?

  • Aeryl

    I found Buffy and Angel and Dollhouse’s characters all cliched from the start. It was only after time did they develop into the people we came to love.

    Willow was geeky nerd researcher, Xander was the geeky slacker, Cordy was the homecoming queen, Giles was the stuffy British guy, Oz was the quirky guitar player, Riley was the unthinking jock, Angel was the mysterious older guy with a dark past.

    Doyle was the hyper sidekick, Wesley was stuffy subsitute teacher, Gunn was the tough kid from the streets, Fred was the nerdy introvert, Darla was the sexually aggressive ex girlfriend trying to win back her old flame with her sexual experience, and Lorne was the flamboyant lounge singer from a homophobic family.

    The characters were only more interesting, because they are based off people you are more likely to actually associate with in the real world.

    Spies and assassins are not, so the archetypes they are using aren’t as relatable, but that doesn’t mean they are dull.

    I personally love Melinda May. She is a stoic closedmouth woman who doesn’t let people in, and is always judged as colder and unfeeling than she is, just like I am.

  • Anonymous

    2 hour series premieres, and even season premieres, are not atypical. Probably because they’re an effective means of hooking an audience by providing enough time for adequate background and character development.

  • Anonymous

    I really like AOS. Particularly when it did its Alias-esque espionage episode. In terms of pacing and “show me” character development, I’d say it is right on par with other Whedon-brand series in their season one debuts. There is a reason I walked away from Buffy in Season 1 and didn’t come back as a true diehard fan until Season 3 (and Faith). It chugged along slow with little interesting beyond MotW fanfare and quirkiness. Angel S1, too, I remember straining to get through. I’d go stretches at a time not watching the episodes (I taped them VHS-style) and then binge on a handful of episodes just to get through them and try to find the good parts. And that’s WITH Angel coming in with some established (and well-liked/known) characters.

    While I love Firefly to pieces, I find the western and war aspects really dull. That’s a personal dislike. The only thing that kept me interested were the characters, their relationships, and the trouble they got into. There are early episodes from Firefly that I’d rather fast-forward because I find the pacing to cast a dull light on the story/characters/situation.

    With AOS, I’m not finding it any different. The pacing is slow in some episodes, the depth and reveal of character development not as flashy and blunt, and sometimes the dialogue goes through spurts of being super Whedon quirky and entertaining to very monotone and procedural bland — but that’s what it is for Season 1 of these shows, imo. Some complaints about bland characters leave me puzzled, however, as I personally view them all as being very distinct and individualistic personalities. Maybe there are some tropes and cliches in the archetypes, and that I can understand. But, hey, it’s not like Buffy or Firefly is without tropes and archetypes and cliche characters either. In fact, beyond Firefly, I think this show gives its characters more purpose and niches and unique skillsets per person from the get go than the majority of Whedon shows. The only character I find incredibly dull and generic and redundant is Agent Ward (like I always say, if they at least made him gay or something then he’d be slightly more interesting/useful for representation). Of course, I also found Simon, Xander, and Gunn very dull and narrowly-defined characters too. So, YMMV.

    In any event, I’m very down for the ride to see how S1 pans out. We’ll see.

  • Anonymous

    That was good. I lol’d. Because it’s true. And it still rankles.

  • Anonymous

    Arrow did start out fast, but slow/boring/generic? The show got bogged down in ridiculous relationship triangles and rectangle problems midway through S1. It ate up most of the show. Maybe some people dig that. But it just turned me off. A lot. Too much adolescent love-angst-brooding for me. And now, in S2, I think Arrow is moving a little TOO fast with trying to introduce too many new characters and do too much with too many characters, jarringly, all over the place. So, these problems leveled at AOS, it’s definitely subjective.

  • Anonymous

    She’s half Chinese. Or at least her actress is.

  • chris

    I stand corrected. I was dazed by the utter banality of her boringness!

  • Anonymous

    Oh my goodness, yes. Fringe, at times, was painful to watch in S1-S2. I think it wasn’t until the second half of S2 that I started seeing potential for a worthwhile show and worthwhile characters. Olivia breaking herself out of the hospital facility like a terminator (and the intrigue around why she is unique) in the early seasons is a moment that sticks with me, where my brain went, “Okay, now this is interesting.” But it took a LOT for us to get to that place. The payoff by the latter seasons made it worthwhile.

  • Anonymous

    I actually like it too. But I come to expect that from Whedon shows, since ye olde times of Buffy. It has the opposite effect on me — I find the characters more Earthbound and endearing. Really, the only big thing that annoyed me so far is Agent Ward and Coulson in the car, talking about women’s studies, and being all “lolomg that’s a real thing? I remember when trying to figure out women — like they’re some kind of magical creature puzzle — was part of the fun!” So many eyerolls. Made me like both of them less, really.

  • Anonymous

    Um…I was really hoping they’d address the whole “Whooops, we keep killing and/or making people of color the villains! We should really stop that racist shit!” No? Really?!….

  • Anonymous

    Oh? I actually thought Mike Peterson and Akela were victims, not villains. They also want to do the right thing.

  • Guymelef

    I don’t think you meant to be patronising in your comment, but I should let you know it came across as such in the manner in which you assume to tell me why I find certain characters interesting or uninteresting. I didn’t find Buffy et al.’s characters interesting because they were based on people I might know in real life, I found them interesting (and pretty much almost from the beginning) because they were well-written and well acted, and had interactions with the other characters in ways that were compelling and enjoyable to watch. Just because most of us aren’t likely to know spies and assassins in real life should have nothing to do with how interesting we find the characters. If anything, they should be more interesting than the standard archetypes you listed because, heck, what wouldn’t be interesting about spies and assassins? There are plenty of shows and movies containing characters with whom I have absolutely nothing in common and with whom nobody I know has absolutely anything in common. Regardless, if a characters and a show are well-written and compelling and enjoyable to watch, I will watch. AOS is not that show for me, much as I regret to say it.

    If you find the AOS characters interesting and enjoyable to watch, good for you. Even better that you can find someone amongst them that you can relate to. For me, in the eight episodes that I watched, I didn’t find a single one of them interesting enough to convince me to keep watching. I keep up to date on general opinions of the show, as if it picks up enough, I may give it a second shot.

  • odango atama

    Love. So much of.

  • Becky Garbrick

    Yeah, but since this is in the MCU, I can see that getting complicated, not being able to reference a big bad like that in the movies when he’s all over the tv show.

  • Becky Garbrick

    Me too. Only complaint is there’s not enough nonsexulized lesbians, but I feel that way about most things. (seriously I would adore if Skye/Simmons became a thing)

  • Eve

    I mentioned to my husband last night that it’s either Victim-of-the-Week or Villain-of-the-Week, often with victims morphing into villains. Villains are often more interesting than heroes, but the villains on SHIELD are not just more interesting, a lot of them are more sympathetic than the characters and/or the SHIELD organization. I would prefer an anti-SHIELD team with Mike Peterson, Akela, Firestarter guy or gravity guy, May, the Science Siblings morphed into one character (which they should be anyway), and Coulson.

  • Aeryl

    I can see how that came across, but since I was very clear in my first paragraph that I found them cliche, I thought it was clear that I was only speaking for myself.

    They were well acted, but they were still only the sketches of actual people that first 20-25 episodes. The only characters I found to be the completely relatable and real upon introduction were Buffy and Faith, tbh.

    Not all the portrayals on SHIELD are working, and I’m sure we’ll see a lineup change by the end of the season. Someone surely has to die, and honestly, Fitz isn’t looking so good. His desire to prove himself is likely going to get himself killed, IMO. I like Ward and he’s getting better. I place most the blame on the character, who’s been a slowly developing piece of cardboard, not the actor, but his appearance is generic enough he’s not “popping” for most people I guess.

    May and Coulson’s portrayals are spot on, and I’ve liked Bennet’s Skye from the start, and honestly feel she catches an unfair amount of the blame from people. She’s idealistic and empathetic, and in most shows it would be an excuse to “break her down” in a terrible and gritty way(and by the previews for next week, that could still happen), but I like her optimism, it’s not a character type I see often in the shows I watch, or if they are, they are punished for it by the narrative.

    what wouldn’t be interesting about spies and assassins

    The fact that in real life they tend to be unsympathetic, sociopathic assholes? It’s one of those things that SOUNDS cool, but in actuality to do that job, you pretty much have to be the kind of person who doesn’t fit in with people living a 9-5 life, which is isolating. I think the show is doing a very good job of humanizing people who have to live that life, without trying to be Homeland. Other people think they are stiff and unlikable, YMMV.

  • Herostratus356

    Writing that makes me realize another problem with this show: There’s no theme. Whedon’s best shows grapple with morally difficult questions throughout their lives. Buffy’s theme was a girl dealing with the conflict between the life she wanted and the responsibility that was thrust upon her. Angel was about a powerful person and his potential to be either good or evil. Firefly was about a group of people who value freedom vs. well-meaning imperialists who want to control what everyone does for their own good. These recurring themes are what gave each of these shows an emotional core and are what defined them beyond their plots, characters, and dialogue. And a theme is what AoS sorely lacks.

  • Anonymous

    That bothers me too. Even if you don’t reveal characters major sub-plots right away, you have to give the audience some reason to care about them or we’re not going to stay interested. According to Joss Whedon here, somehow it is our fault that he hasn’t managed to do that! As an experience writer, Whedon should know better how to pace his shows and not place blame on his viewers like this! :/

    I also suspect if this wasn’t a Marvel show, SHIELD would have a seriously flagging viewership by now. I think I would have given up after 3 episodes myself if not for the ‘I’m fond of the marvel universe and I’m sure it will improve’ line of thinking.

  • Anonymous

    You guys have both hit the nail on the head EXACTLY! I kind of feel like the audience is being treated like we have a rather low IQ and don’t cotton onto things very fast!

  • Ria Narai

    Huh, well of course you’re entitled to feel that way and you’ve done an excellent job of explaining why you feel the way you do, but I honestly feel like I must be watching a different show to everyone else. I’ve liked every episode I’ve watched, as has my Dad who I watch it with, and while the characters aren’t exactly Firefly level of engaging I wasn’t going in expecting Firefly, or Buffy, or any other show for that matter.

    I guess I’m just not ready to pre-empt it and say it’s going nowhere based on another show (especially as I haven’t actually gotten around to watching Dollhouse yet) – it is what it is, and we’ll have to see where it goes and whether it does move forward. For me it’s been exciting and engaging enough that I always look forward to the next episode and want to see what happens next.

    But I’m coming in as a Marvel movie fan, not as a Whedon fan (though I have seen Firefly and about half of Buffy), I get kicks out of comic/movie references (the former of which I recognise after having seen an Avengers cartoon series and from the comics my comic book buff friends keeps loaning me ahaha) – so its things like the follow up episode to Thor 2 and the hope that more comic book characters are going to show up that I’m looking forward to more of.

    Maybe that’s the difference? I hadn’t thought of that actually, before now… I wonder how many people hating on it came in expecting a new Whedon show, and how many people came in excited by more of the MCU, and how many came in excited about both…

  • Melynda

    I don’t think that the characters are all that boring. It’s obvious there’s more to them and that they’ll get around to it. I think loading the first half of the season with character development would’ve left little room for anything else. I thought I was going to hate Ward and I’m actually okay with him. I just want more character development for Fitz and Simmons… And I wish they would stop referring to them as the same person.

  • Melynda

    Well, they were talking to Jed Whedon, not Joss, and Jed has been in tv for the last few years. He worked on Dollhouse and Spartacus in the run up to Agents of SHIELD.

  • Aeryl

    I’ve said this before, but I think the theme was supposed to be what we saw in the Pilot, but that the network shot it out, as shooting a black guy in a hoodie was a bit too one he nose.

    So that’s why the show feels meandering a bit, is that they are struggling for a new theme, which is why the MotWs have all been things rather than people.

    Your idea about a politician getting populist about this would be neat, I hope that’s something they start integrating.

  • Aeryl

    Most of the people I talk to who dislike it, come from comic book fandom, vs MCU. I think the biggest thing, is that in all honesty, the show isn’t targeting comic book fans, it’s meant for the movie fans. They can’t litter it with easter eggs or ALL comic book references, because then those of us without that background will feel excluded, and we are the target audience, IMO.

    They feel the comic book fans are a lock, and aren’t gearing the shows to delight them, which is why it isn’t appealing to them. The MCU fans outnumber the book diehards, so logically it makes sense, but it also ignores that the movies wouldn’t have the fans they got if it weren’t for the passion of the book fans in the first place.

    The book fans also keep demanding more comic book stuff, but because the show is meant for people with no book background they have to do this slowly.

    For example, I don’t know who Deathlok is, but I now know who Mike Peterson is, and if he becomes Deathlok, then that works. But if he had just shown up as Deathlok from the start, it would have turned me off, because I don’t know who that is. I wouldn’t have cared. Now I do. Now I’m invested.

    Same thing with Gravitron. I know that’s a character, but it meant nothing without knowing that he became who he was because of Coulson, that in trying to stop his invention from being exploited, he instead made things worse and the conflict with him will come from these actions. It has a greater impact, because we KNOW. If Gravitron had just shown up pissed at Coulson, and the MCU fans were expected to go to Marvel Wiki to figure it out, or deal with flashbacks, that would have been a turn off to most people.

    Doing it slowly, if frustrating for fans who know what could happen and what to get to it already, will allow the story to keep moving forward, instead of traveling backwards to give us exposition.

  • Aeryl

    They’re not “stumbling” they are being fed which cases to pursue by SHIELD.

    We also have indicators that someone at SHIELD is funneling info to the Clairvoyant. That same person could have been sending all the Centipede cases to Coulson’s team to lure him in their trap, as it’s clear they’ve wanted him for awhile, that was why they sprung Po only to kill him four days later, because he was the bait.

  • Anonymous

    Point is, they are the antagonists, people we are not supposed to relate to.

  • Anonymous

    It isn’t really that you’re “watching a different show” as that you are approaching it from a different perspective and with different expectations and tolerances. And that’s a direction that a lot of people see the show. Which is great, since it’s the happy satisfied fans that are helping to keep the show on the air.

    I can’t speak for the others, but I wouldn’t call myself a Whedon fan. The only things of his I’ve really liked were Doctor Horrible and the Avengers. My reasons for watching have been Coulson and because I’ve been enjoying the Marvel movies. I didn’t expect the show to be peppered with superheroes and world-dooming megaplots, but I did have the basic expectation I have whenever I turn on the TV: I expected to be entertained.

    SHIELD can be entertaining, especially if I put aside my dislike of the characters and just enjoy the plots themselves, but the characters are what hold the show together. Disliking two and a half of the leads (I’m waffly about May) is a hard thing to keep ignoring and I think it probably makes me more critical of the show as a whole. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s nothing wrong with using clichéd characters as long as you give them unique twists. I don’t feel as if the characters are unique enough it frustrates the heck out of me to see their tropes consistently reinforced rather than having them break out of their molds.

    Clearly you’re with the group that either thinks they’re unique enough already or that doesn’t mind a bit of stereotyping as long as the rest of the story holds up. Sometimes I really wish I could have that same mindset. I’d enjoy a lot more television in general if I could get over cookie cutter characters and formulaic plots.

    Also, while it’s fun to get the possible origin stories of a couple of characters I actually wouldn’t mind if they dropped in a character/device from the comics. I’d get the enthusiasm from those who recognized it and be able to do my own research. But what I’d really like more than anything is for them to have fully-realized three-dimensional characters as their leads rather than leaving them as kinda cardboardy ways of getting through the stories. That’s still very easy to accomplish even with a “slow to develop” series.

  • Joanna

    Ah! My mistake =)

  • Emily Krebs

    Wow. If you need an entire season to get people interested in your characters, you are a piss poor writer. Orange is the New Black has a huge cast of characters that hook you from minute one. Even the side characters they haven’t really developed at all are really, really engaging. Take the woman who doesn’t talk. We know NOTHING about her except…she doesn’t talk, but I LOVE that character.

    To Whedon’s point, yes, you don’t have a big budget. So if you don’t have a big budget for action then you should have gone character driven, not plot driven. Especially because they tried to copy the team formula of NCIS and other cop shows. That formula works there because the crimes themselves are interesting enough to carry it as they are based on reality. But a Marvel show’s crimes are going to be based on the ridiculous, and sci-fi crimes with aliens and super formulas and whatnot are not going to be as engaging because they are so removed from reality.

    This show had the perfect set-up and opportunity to place it in a Shield facility where one week they could follow the new recruits, another week the legal people, another the scientists. It could have been extremely kitschy with moments of high-action. And that combo would have made it feel Marvel. Not the long drawn-out spy plot with characters who are completely unengaging. Hell, they could have had an entire episode devoted to the guy who plays Galaga in the movie, and with the right writer, that could have been equal parts hilarious and moving (say he’s got a girlfriend he has to hide his real job from, causing relationship strain, and the irony is that he’s in a super spy organization that sounds all important, but he plays games all day. Or it could have been like the Booster Gold episode in Justice League Unlimited whereby he always plays games at work, then one day manages to save everyone by subverting some evil plot of some big villain but no one believes him because he always plays games).

    They literally had a Candyland for writers where they could play with tons of different characters until they hit on an area of focus that fans loved. But instead they shoved the premise into this boring little box of flat character tropes we’ve seen time and again that focuses on BIG PLOTS and HIGH ACTION that they have no hope of delivering given their budget.

    The Marvel movies got so big because the characters rocked. It’s a pity the show creators missed that crucial point.

  • Emily Krebs

    I come from the MCU and animated TV shows, not really comics, and I have show beef. The show is literally NCIS with a SHIELD covering. Seeing as I HATE NCIS, yeaaaaahhh.

    You don’t need a long time to hook fans on characters who are well written. In my other comment I use Orange is the New Black as an example. That’s my issue with AoS, they seem to think “good character development” means keeping characters flat and closed-off until BACKSTORY REVEAL, which simply isn’t true.

    Heck, Coulson got so popular initially from exceedingly short cameos. He was interesting and fun with basically a grand total of 15 minutes of screen time spaced across movies. Why the AoS show writers can’t grasp that, I have no idea. As someone who isn’t huge comic nerd, I would have loved a show that focused on a SHIELD base and played like The Office. That would have rocked. So not all of us who are dissatisfied are comic fanatics.

  • Emily Krebs

    Yes. This. Taking advantage of and poking fun at the ridiculous forgotten heroes and villains who are already really low-budget would be total win.

  • Ria Narai

    Yes exactly, as much as I get a kick out of going ‘hang on, Dr Franklin Hall, that name rings a bell’ and then, upon seeing the hand at the end going ‘OHHH ITS GRAVITON’ my knowledge of the Marvel Universe is pretty limited (a single cartoon and couple of comics don’t equal the extensive knowledge and familiarity of book fans), so I’d be pretty damn lost if they just dropped in existing characters left and right and expected us to know them.

    It makes sense to me though that comic books fans are coming in with certain expectations and not having them met. And Whedon fans are coming in with THEIR expectations and not having them met.

    Meanwhile I’m primarily an MCU fan so any expectations I might have brought in have been met (but honestly, I think the truth is that I didn’t know what to expect going in, so I haven’t been disappointed) – and I’m looking forward to being introduced to existing characters in the same way each movie has introduced me to new characters.

    I personally feel like each episode is a neat little package of a story, that’s slowly introducing us to these new characters (and letting us get to know Coulson better, and far more than his few appearances in the movies), while also dropping us little breadcrumbs and building up to bigger and better things. And I’ve been loving it -shrugs-

  • Ria Narai

    Ah, maybe that’s the problem then, because I love NCIS and have been watching it for a decade now… I often wonder when people hate a show whether they also dislike other shows I like and if it’s just a case of different taste… I guess there are a lot of different factors at work here…

  • Emily Krebs

    Yeah, different strokes for different folks, I reckon. I would be curious to know now if my assessment is accurate and if most AoS fans are also NCIS fans. Hmmm… intriguing inquiry, methinks.

  • Fannish

    Take things out of context and you can make them say whatever you want.

    Episode 9 “Repairs” (written by Jed & Maurissa) aired against a repeat of NCIS which is why it had a bigger rise in ratings than the previous week which also went up.

    Episode 10 “The Bridge” aired after a week off and in the first week off (ratings almost always drop after a week or two off and NCIS dropped that week as well after having time off) and in December when everyone thought it was off air.

    It had nothing to do with who wrote either episode.

  • Rebecca Pahle

    Plus “The Well” was heavily talked-up in advance as being the show’s Thor crossover ep. Of course there was a ratings jump.

  • Joel Rolston

    Thank you, Aeryl.

  • Anonymous

    THIS. Okay, I’m not a DC fan so it may be easier for me, watching Arrow, since I don’t know and love the source material, BUT. Arrow has (at least that’s what it seems to me) a low/standard budget. It is incredibly cheesy and removed from reality. When I try to tell my friends what’s happening on this show, I feel like an idiot.

    AND YET this show is really engaging. AND YET Oliver’s backstory is interesting. AND YET there is character development and emotions and relationships and families and friends and loves and betrayals and SHOOTING BAD GUYS WITH FREAKING ARROWS, WOAH.

    You don’t need much to make your superhero show good. But whatever it was, AoS writers lack it.

  • Anonymous

    Going into the premiere, I wasn’t expecting superheroes every week. They made it clear it wouldn’t be that kind of show. That being said, many of the actors are wooden and the writing is stilted and relies too heavily on tired procedural tropes. The problem isn’t lack of superheroes; the problem is that this show is bland even when compared with the likes of Law & Order or NCIS: Whatever City. And don’t give me the “it takes a while to invest in characters!” line. That’s covering for sloppy writing. I was more invested in characters from Firefly, Traffic Light, and OITNB and those all had one season of 10-13 episodes. AoS has had 16 episodes with (what should’ve been) a built-in audience and they haven’t been able to get it right. People will forgive lack of superheroes if there’s dynamic characters with real stakes, which AoS doesn’t have.