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October 07 2013

A round-up of reviews for last week's Agents of SHIELD episode. Digital Spy loved it, calling '0-8-4' "a fun and glossy package". SFX Magazine gave the episode 3 1/2 stars out of 5, "it has pace and heart and humour". The Guardian is recapping the show and generally liking it. The Yahoo! review said it was "of similar ilk to an 'Indiana Jones' romp". Assignment X said it was a bit disappointing compared to the first episode. Vulture thought it was disappointing as well. IGN went with " there are elements of SHIELD that feel very much like an old school TV series, which is actually quite enjoyable". And the Huffington Post said "this second episode left me even more breathless than the first".

I thought it was a lot of fun. Kinda reminder me of watching TV as a kid. There's going to have to be some risks and/or big bad into the equation though to make it mean more and keep people invested.
I'm going to attempt a review of the first two episodes. Overall, I really liked them and I think the show has already a defined identity. It's an adventure show, Marvel-style fun, with a nice mix of action, comic moments and "heart". It's obvious that Joss, Jed and Maurissa need time to gel the ingredients to go from "nice" to "awesome", but I think the actors are great, and already show a lot of chemistry. All the relationships are there, they just need to blossom. It reminds me a lot of Dollhouse' beginnings, especially in the stock nature of the characters: the hacker/rebellious girl (Skye/Caroline), the loner/stalwart agent (Ward/Ballard), the sympatethic father figure (Coulson/Boyd), the overtalkative geeks (Fitzsimmons/Topher). Except the show doesn't automatically need to be as dark or as mythology-driven as Dollhouse became. And I don't think Marvel/ABC necessarily wants to go there.. yet. I'm afraid these days shows are judged and killed/renewed on the first couple episodes, they're not given enough time to evolve in what they are in potential already. Just think of the first episodes of Angel.. I just hope the network and Disney will work together to give the creative team enough time to get there.
I rewatched it last night. I gotta say the plot is pretty forgettable but I love those character moments. I don't get why people find FitzSimmons irritating or hard to warm up to. They're a wonderful spin on the typical Topher/Xander/Wash/Joss-analogues.

From where I stand, I get the feeling they're trying to "rush" us through the "getting to know" phase as quickly as possible which is why I liked that they had the "team building" (partially) bottle-episode already as their second. The lab-confrontation and Skye's directness about the messy ensemble seem to support that, too.

My only real gripe with the show so far is that I'm not feeling the run-of-the-mill Hollywood superhero-score (which bums me out extra hard because I LOVE Bear McCreary's other works) and the relatively "sterile" nature of everything. The Bus doesn't (yet?) feel like "home" like Serenity or even the Dollhouse did. Maybe that'll come with the ...*cough* fishtank? :)
In all those reviews, one statement stood out to me, and I think this is the key point for me: "Exclusive look at Thor: The Dark World!" screamed the first commercial that aired during the episode. Marvel really has this synergy thing down cold."
"Old school" TV series like... The A-Team? McGyver? :-)
It reminds me of Stargate SG1 in some respects. It was an underrated genre show, but it had great characters and arcs.
I'm a huge fan of Marvel (in addition to being a huge fan of Joss), but I was fairly bored by the first episode. Too slow and too much "set up" that just felt forced (or at least transparent). The second ep, however, was great --the action, the team-building chemistry, the humor -- I thought it all came together really well.
My young kids love it (boys 7 + 8). They immediately made the connection with Iron Man 3 in the first ep, and loved Nick Fury turn up in the 2nd ep. So it's another show I can watch with them along with Doctor Who. But, I hope Joss is gentle with them, and doesn't rip their hearts out and stomp on them.

They've shown an interest in Buffy when it's on SyFy, but they aren't ready for that yet!
bivith,
That sounds like fun, I might watch it with my nephew, but I want to make sure it stays suitable first. As you said Buffy isn't really for that age.

I liked the second episode more than the first. It was just more fun (Even without Fury at the end). And even though it was corny, I loved how the team got together by the end.
Also Ming-Na is a badass combination of silent Oz and kickass Buffy. Who said Nobody's Asian on TV? (it was Mo)
The Jim Steranko reviews should be included in this (and future) roundups. Here are his thoughts on '0-8-4': Jim Steranko on 'Agents of SHIELD': Smoother, But 'Too Unfocused to Be Satisfying'

I think he has a good point about the problem being faced by focusing on the entire team vs. highlighting one character each week.

For example, we got a minimal taste of the value to the team and edgy persona of Melinda May, who could have been neatly developed as the spotlight character in "0-8-4." With a prefacing segment showing the MacGuffin creating tesseract havoc in the South American jungle and threatening to expand across the equator, SHIELD would have responded to the emergency, but with May featured in key moments, just as she was in freeing the agents and dominating their captors.

Steranko would be right... if there was a problem.
Oh, the Guardian even mentions the A-Team.
I also liked this second episode better than the first. But my main complaint with the show is how visually bad it looks. Am I the only one ?

The special effects are okay but the photography makes everything look cheap. The pilot had some good shots, but the second episode wasn't very pleasant to look at.

I don't understand how that's possible with the big budget that they have. Firefly, or even Dollhouse didn't have as much money and looked way better !
I thought the show looked great, from the tracking shot on The Boat to the lighting effects (day/night) in flight.
I loved it. Especially liked the first part, which reminded me of Indiana Jones. It's not usually my taste, but when it's funny and clever I like to see an old fashioned adventure story every once in a while (I also really liked John Carter of Mars, real shame it was so unsuccessful).

Didn't think it looked bad at all, quite the opposite (thought it looked quite cinematic for TV).

I actually liked that our protagonists all are such white hats, it seems like a more interesting place to go with your covert government organization story right now. I don't believe idealist protagonists need to result in a less complex, less mature or less deep series at all. I just finished reading a wonderful webcomic, the City of Reality (after discovering it last Friday), which IMO shows that white hat heroes & deep storytelling and complex characterization can go together perfectly under the right circumstances. Plus Aaron Sorkin's The West Wing and The Newsroom are two of my all time favorite shows.
I enjoyed the episode well enough. However, it didn't leave me with a great need to re-watch it immediately, like I've had with every previous Whedon show. I hope that will change with future installments.
The A.V. Club is also reviewing the episodes on a weekly basis! They generally do great write-ups.
We got the first two eps back to back here, which I think made a difference to how I'm seeing them - it was like one big episode!
I also watched the reruns, and was still laughing at a lot of little moments, so it's a general all-round thumbs up from me.
There were a few moments that felt clunky (Coulsons former comrade/lover who ends up double-crossing them was a tad obvious) but overall, it's a lot of fun! I'm in for the long haul :)
Is that my problem? Never liked the A Team.
I wouldn't look at as a problem with yourself, redeem147...though knowing why you have never liked The A-Team probably would help in a few ways. I mean, if you have issues with the minimal amount of fatalities and gore shown compared to implied (i.e. The A-Team being a group of Army Rangers who never actually killed anyone) or characterization of the protagonists? Then there could be an issue until Joss & co. start getting serious about various missions having serious consequences or your tastes possibly change.

;P

Really? Timeslot or source material will never be a great reason for keeping plot and chracterization a certain way because other programs have gotten away with being more down and dirty at 8PM on a weeknight and Marvel comics are not all that sanitized when it comes to death and violence.

So far, the first two episodes have kept body counts rather low and there's been no real gore barring the charred corpse of the other Centipede test subject. Gunfights and fist-fights, but nothing like Firefly had in Serenity (Parts 1 & 2) and The Train Job. Characterization has been debated as well, though other ME shows had pre-established "families" that 1-3 new faces are introduced to...so SHIELD has a lot more character bond work to do compared to its predecessors in the Whedon wheelhouse. If any of this contributes, then there might be an issue but I hope not. AoS is a fun romp but it's not Homeland, but that might not be point...
Oh great, BlueEyedBrigadier, now you've given me a yin for a "Homeland with scifi elements".
I find the lack of gore refreshing.

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