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October 17 2013

TWoP evaluates the personnel of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. TwoP assesses the assets and liabilities of various characters and staffers. Really doesn't like Fitz.

I dread to think how Buffy's first episodes would have been assessed now, in 2013. Sometimes I feel like I read too much Internet and if I'm watching the same show. Granted, there is vast room for improvement on all fronts, but there's an acrimony towards this show (and the cast, especially) that I rarely encountered. A lil' surprised.
I agree with Perseo that 4 episodes is still far to early to know exactly what the show is going to become. Other than Firefly, all other Whedon shows took a bit to find their way. Even if AoS isn't yet looking like groundbreaking television, I'm still having a lot of fun with it. Critics be dammed!
Is this a cry for help ? Or readers ? I don't know. It sound so bitter and ""snapy"".
I think this is mostly click-bait, but one part particularly bugged me, under Melinda May's alleged liabilities:
the lack of a second facial expression

This, apparently, is the kind of complaint Asian women hear frequently. And in this case it's clearly the result of not looking. Ming-Na Wen has expressed the character's tightly contained emotions through virtuoso, but subtle, changes in facial expressions. This is how we know, for instance, that she likes Coulson, although her words remain distinctly cool./ Subtlety's a good thing in TV acting, and movie acting, and acting. That doesn't render it invisible, at least not to everyone.

I am eager to see her no-doubt incredibly harrowing back story play out in epic flashback.
Melinda is to Coulson what Zoe was to Mal. She even calls him sir.
*I* like Fitz. and Simmons. I think their crosstalk is a perfectly good way of showing us that someone has an answer, we don't need to hear exactly what it is, we're fine.
KissingToast: Holy crap, that never occurred to me at all. This changes things. o_o
I stopped reading TWOP years ago. I was reading a re-cap and realized that the re-capper consistently loathed the show he was re-capping. I just wanted him to stop watching. It's pointless. By the way, the show in question is still doing fine.
TWoP still exists?
Don't mind the vitriol, people, it just seems to happen, like a natural force or something. I am ignoring it.
I stopped TWoP because I was one of the dozens of Spike and Spuffy fans that banned for no reason at all.

That tellls you all you need to know about the site.
Fitz is my least favorite as well...
I like Fitz! Ward is actually my least favorite.

As for Melinda's lack of second facial expression, I don't think it has anything to do with her ethnicity. I think her character shows extreme restraint in all situations. She's a person who clearly did not want to be there and her stoicism is her way of showing absolutely no enthusiasm for her new job.

And KissingToast is spot on. Melinda is Zoe and Coulson is Mal, and they are the mom and dad of the bus. Skye even said so.
TWOP is like voluntarily asking a grumpy old man what he thinks about stuff. Why?
Not only do I agree with KissingToast on the Melinda is Zoe, Coulson is Mal thingy, but I also LOVE the KissingToast name!
I like reading TWOP for their reviews on BSG and True Blood (reviewed by the same guy, who was amazing).

Awesome parallels with Coulson and May.

They are making in roads with all of the characterization. Fitz and Ward got a boost in the latest episode. Now it's time to shine the light on Simmons.
They're way too kind about Ward.
Twop's community has a lot of good insights, but it also has acquired that community by exuding a smarter-than-thou air and a cynicism about television. The "advice" on how to improve the characters and show is click-bait; this author knows very well that the show runners have plans that are slow to reveal.

I think the author is wrong that the answer to the Coulson mystery is as simple as that. Remember when everyone said right away that Ballard's neighbor was a doll? (When in fact she was a doll who was a sleeper who had no idea that she was?)
Awesome parallels with Coulson [Mal] and May [Zoe].

Which itself demonstrates a stunning lack of creativity on the Whedons' part. The TWoP viewpoint about AoS has merit. There isn't a single original thing about these characters. We have:

The wise mentor with a mysterious past. Check.
The grim kickass dude. Check.
The grim kickass babe. Check.
The nerdy girl. Check.
The nerdy guy. Check.
The rebel. Check.

Joss was able to crank out AoS so quickly in no small part because he recycled his own well-worn tropes.
That isn't really a Whedon exclusive. It's about how well you execute the characters and how they develop as people.
My point being, every one of Joss' television shows feature that exact line-up of characters. Every one.
Who were they in Angel?
I do see similarities among some characters in different Whedon shows (and all TV shows), but those descriptions are so vague as to be almost meaningless. Who were the nerdy guy/girl on Firefly? Simon and River, I guess (because smart)? So, in this scenario, Willow & (...Giles? but he's the mentor...Xander? but he's not a "smart" nerd...Oz?), Simon & River and Fitz & Simmons are practically the same? Seems like a stretch. And Buffy and Faith were "kickass babes," but I wouldn't describe either one of them as "grim."
I think the whole point of Buffy was that she didn't want to be grim?

As to the Topher Twins, I'm getting very suspicious about them. For people with entirely different specialities, they seem to have a remarkable amount of shared knowledge/memories. Is their extreme youth a plot point? Are they basically Dolls?
With the things they might encounter, their specialties might not be that off base. When they found that cube thing in the jungle, it resembled something both mechanical and biological in nature. Without both specialists, how could you know for sure? And if they were really best friends and confidantes they would have shared experiences. I've spent a lot of time with people who work in fields completely different from mine. We've gained knowledge from each other.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2013-10-19 00:14 ]
It just seemed ... odd ... that Simmons, whose field is biosciences, should have a schoolgirl fancrush on Zhores Alferov.
Any article that labels characters' occupations as 'eye candy' and 'sex symbol' is bringing its own issues into the mix.

As for Simmons knowing Zhores Alferov, I was surprised about that at first too. But then I remembered that in the UK most people study combined sciences until they're 16 and have the opportunity to narrow it down, so a schoolgirl crush on a physicist isn't that surprising.
I'm a veterinary technician at an emergency/specialty hospital. It would be a stretch to call me a scientist at all, and I haven't taken a single physics class in my life. My college experience is minimal, & I went to public school in the US southeast (which is a travesty of education).

I know who Zhores Alferov is.

My brother is a statistician with a music comp/music theory degree. I'd bet a pretty penny that he knows who Zhores Alferov is, too. People aren't the sum of their job title, nor of their formal education.
Who were they in Angel?


Really? This one is easy. True, the characters grew and matured over time (as they did in all Joss's series) but the fundamental tropes at the time of their introduction are accurate.

The mentor with the past is Angel himself.
The kickass dude is Gunn.
The kickass babe is Faith (as an unofficial member of the Angel family).
The nerdy girl is Fred.
The nerdy guy is Wesley.
The rebel is Connor.
Really? This one is easy. True, the characters grew and matured over time (as they did in all Joss's series) but the fundamental tropes at the time of their introduction are accurate.


Yes really. Because when we think Angel, wise is not the first thing that comes to mind. Same goes for mentor. Wesley was a civil servant, Fred was a trauma victim, Gunn was a street thug. I'll give you Conor though.
Firefly was full of rebels!
Angel very much served in a mentor capacity to Buffy when he was first introduced. I'm not suggesting he was good at it, he never was. But mentor was a role he was forced into throughout his long life, the least of which was to those he sired. Again, he wasn't good at it, but he doesn't have to be to fit the trope. The same goes for the other characters on the list. You're talking about how their personalities were shaded, which is really just window dressing. The archetypes I listed in my original post are still valid. Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD. The characters are foundationally the same.
I've enjoyed all of Joss' works from the beginning, except for this one. For me, the biggest mystery is why SHIELD would put together a team mostly of novices who have a hard time getting along to handle such important work. This may be the first time I abandon a Whedon effort.
@Dean: Angel having a mentor function on Buffy doesn't classify him as being a mentor archetype in his own show, Angel. He had no mentor function on his own show so that doesn't fit at all. You're trying to label the cast within a certain show and if you have to make it work by extending it to character traits they exhibited on another show they appeared in as that character but way way before their own show existed, then there's something that's not working. If you wanted to say leader then that's fine, I guess.

But really, I'd like to see a list of all Whedon shows with their cast put into these slots. I can't see how Dollhouse fits there at all, for example. The Angel=mentor thing doesn't work, too as we've seen.

It either works 100% of the time or your point of "all the same base archetypes in every show" is moot.
As team leader, Angel did have a mentor's responsibilities to those in his care (particularly his son) but as I stated before he wasn't very good at it, with errors outweighing the victories.

Now Dollhouse poses a different challenge, but its characters still fit the established Whedon tropes (though not in ways that seem obvious on the surface). Firstly, the Actives need to be removed from the equation, since by definition they are chameleons who embody multiple tropes. As the series lead and anchor, though, Echo remains fair game. What we have then is this:

The mentor with the mysterious past is Boyd.
The kickass dude is Ballard.
The kickass babe is Echo, consistent throughout her many guises.
The nerdy guy is Topher.
The nerdy girl is Ivy (not a major character but she doesn't need to be for the trope to ne present).
The rebel is Adelle. This one is not readily apparent, but Adelle's arc of rebellion against her Rossum masters was the most profound of the series.
It's really easy to fit someone into a box if you try hard enough. I could've easily been called the kickass babe, the nerdy girl, or the rebel at various times throughout my life, though my mentor days haven't been terribly mysterious. Willow could check those same boxes at different points in her life. I don't find the reduction particularly meaningful or enlightening.
It's not meant to be either of those things. It's simply a matter of character analysis.

But I can see your error in using Willow as an example. Yes, she was all those things "at different points in her life". You have to strip away the different points and look at the beginning. Before she was anything else, Willow was The Nerdy Girl. That's her trope. The rest is evolution.

Joss has a clearly defined handfull of tropes that he's employed in all of his series. Do his characters remain in those limiting positions? Of course not, they change and grow over time. But it's how they begin.
Angel very much served in a mentor capacity to Buffy when he was first introduced


If you're referring to the beginning of a character Angel was the love interest, pure and simple. The only mentor served up was Giles. As for Boyd, he was pretty much a blank slate until Season 2. And Adelle's trope that you identify wasn't there at the beginning either.
Simon, you're only pointing to surface presentation. Angel's purpose was to help Buffy learn her role as the Slayer. That's a mentor. Buffy can't have more than one? Three-dimensional characters always do. Boyd was introduced in the role of mentor and handler to Echo before he bacame head of security and then the Big Bad. And Adelle had to be set up as Queen Corporate Bitch for her reversal to have any meaning.

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