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October 25 2013

How to fix Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Let the protestations begin (continue?).

Start Killing People

Nope. It is way too early to kill any of the main characters of and as soon as that happens then the really boring 'Joss kills everyone you love!' comments start yet again. Plus at this point everyone expects this to happen so its hardly shocking and definitely not needed.
Yeah, I'm not even sure I like them yet.
So which is more boring- a sudden character death or the characters as they stand now? It kills me to be so apathetic about a Whedon show.
I disagree with almost everything in there. Am I just being a fanboy? Also, how can they comment on "anything that Skye has done this entire season of SHIELD"?

I don't want to know what happened with Coulson before I care about him. Obviously the reveal will be traumatic for him, but we need to get to know him better before we can feel it too. On the other hand, the reveal will probably happen soon enough. In Dollhouse, I thought they were going to carry on with Ballard being always too late to find Caroline or the Dollhouse... until the 6th episode.

I also don't want SHIELD to tell a million stories in the Marvel Universe. I want it to tell one story well. And then maybe another one. But, for me, the references to the movies just mean that SHIELD is grounded into that universe, and that what happens is important to these people. Of course they refer to the Battle of New York! Did people stop referring to 9/11 after a month?

They have a point with regards to limiting resources, but from what I understand, the team's resources are limited by the fact that... they are merely humans. I don't know if that will work as a narrative device, but I think that's the point. I don't doubt something will happen to the Bus, but not after 5 episodes.

It seems to me most of the criticism is just people being impatient. Maybe those points will be valid at the end of the season, but it's much too early! To those who don't like AoS right now, I can only recommend to wait until the first season is over, and watch the whole season in a row, which will surely guarantee a reasonable rate of reveals and character development.
When the author says that characters are wittybots, though? Come on, that can be said about almost everything Joss has made. He is a great creator of drama, but for me his most defining quality is his ability to make witty and intelligent dialogue as well.

I think the show shows promise and I am sure it will get better. Also, the show gets a lot of criticism, because it such a significant project, and really the first tv-show of this type. So all this criticism may be a good thing.
Just to point out that we like constructive criticism or helpful advice here. But if you want to go on your soapbox, have a rant or just plain bash everything in sight then I would suggest you do so elsewhere.

Some of my thoughts -

There needs to be an opening title sequence to just frame what the show is about. I couldn't tell you what the theme music is as I have no context to place it in.

Don't hide the fact the show is supposed to be family-friendly. Some fans still haven't got the message.

Instant gratification and slow-burning arcs are not an easy balance.

Who ever came up with the opening sequence in episode 4 needs to do more of this. That worked on a lot of levels for me.

I actually like the characters so far. And I'm reminded that most characters in previous Whedon shows drew a lot of flack at the beginning.

There was no golden era of Whedonverse fandom. When Buffy, Angel and Firefly were on the air, the fandom was petty, mean and full of personality clashes. It was also full of wonderful people and great meta. However episodes were shot down in flames within minutes of them being aired. Heck even The Body got slammed in some corners. So those who look upon the days of Buffy and Firefly with rosey-tinted glasses would need to take them off.
I think the characters have distinctive voices. I wouldn't call May or Ward wittybots, only Coulson and Skye. But Coulson was like that before Joss wrote him. FitzSimmons is mostly technoblabbering and being British. Fury was very Fury-like.

But maybe I am biased because I talk in whedon-talk, having heard so much of it since my high-shcool years.
It's a Marvel universe, so we know the sups are out there and the mutants. And isn't it SHIELDS job to deal with those? When people see the word Marvel in front of a title they expect something superpowered. It doesn't have to be every week, but I think it would help the show. It still doesn't feel like it knows where it is going. The humour is cute, and I am sure Joss knows what he is doing, and I am sticking around almost purely to see what he has in mind, but he hasn't sold me yet. The world doesn't need another spy/cop show, it has many. Right now it is truly just a average.
Didn't we have two superpowered antagonists already? Plus Graviton, who is not Graviton yet, but is surely coming back soon.
Every single one of Joss's shows have controversial first seasons that received mixed reviews. It's not uncommon, and it's not an indicator of the show's future.
Well, they can't use mutants since Fox owns the rights to those...which just made the whole 'oh he got his powers from radiation!' thing seem silly.

While I do think the show can use some improvements, particularly by giving everyone else the same kind of treatment and writing that Skye gets every week, the article just seems to engage in an extended diatribe of 'why can't AoS be like all these other shows?' Uh, coz it's not? I don't think it would be made better by simply aping other shows that have gone before. It needs to capitalize on its core concepts and ideas rather than carbon copy something else.

I don't understand the complaint about the characters having resources. They work for a global espionage agency that has, among other things, a flying navy carrier boat thingy. So, yes they have resources. I also don't understand his issue with using Extremis. Yes, its from IM3, but so what? Yes, it's a MacGuffin, but if this seemingly poser commentator even read the book or watched IM 3, he'd see that it's a well conceived of MacGuffin (it hacks the body's repair center to grant powers, or in some cases, make someone blow up). I don't see a problem with using a thing from the movies from which to create a season-long arc. That's actually kind of interesting.

This guy also seems to state things that are outright errors. They didn't solve the issue in 'Girl in a Flower Dress' by simply minority reporting stuff on a touchscreen. Melinda May had to double tap the fire dude with extremis, which then caused him to blow up. Also, as life-long Trekkie, I know Moore didn't really work on Voyager. He left the Trek fold way before then. So, I don't think this faux geek poser really knows what he's talking about.
...oh AND if anyone knows Joss, I'm sure we all realize that making such a blatant point about precogs and psychics not existing in this universe (along with the mention of the Clairvoyant) is just telegraphing the fact that this statement/notion will probably all blow up on the characters' faces pretty soon. (though it's annoying that they can't ever use Emma Frost until Fox surrenders the rights to the mutants).
Simon gets a :) As for helpful advice, I would like a longer title sequence. Just seeing the logo flash on the screen makes it less involving. Simplify the show a little bit. Make it easier to understand what is going on. Make certain characters more, hmm, I am not sure how to say this, feel more like fully-fledged human beings.
phoenix012 - Just a heads-up, but throwing insults at an author doesn't fly here. You may want to drop the "fake geek" & "poser" talk.
Apologies. Though in my defense, the little bit of insult did come with several lines of explanation before hand.
I have a HUGE problem with saying "killing off characters that aren't working is a good thing!" This has been a very big problem for The Walking Dead, not a strength like the author seems to believe. This is a sign of throwing in the towel, not a sign of good writing. The Walking Dead is finally crawling out of a hole because it's working hard to redeem a lot of its dull characters, realizing that you can't just kill off everyone that isn't working because you're still left with brand new characters to develop from scratch.

Like others have already said, Whedon uses death in very meaningful ways. I'm certainly not against someone from AoS dying, but obviously they have to be established to the point where we'd care if something happened to them. It's still so early, the writing crew doesn't need EW or anyone else telling them how to fix their show. Hopefully Marvel isn't reading much into this type of feedback and continues to let the writers do their own thing. I have no doubts it will improve just like Buffy and Angel did over time.
phoenix, actually Ron Moore did write for Voyager. Right after the end of DS9 he became part of the writing staff for the sixth season but quickly left due to creative differences. He wrote Barge of the Dead for that season and I think one other episode.

About this article and similar criticism of the show, my feeling is always: isn't this all a bit premature?
Here's how I would fix the show...


Rewatch the most recent episode and the pilot and compare the two. It has already gotten a lot better in practically every way. Most the characters are more interesting, because we are learning more about them. Agent Grant Ward was the most bland, but as he becomes more comfortable working with a team, we see more of his personality.
Here is how I would fix the show...

The agents are in unusual situations, but the not much of what they do is unusual because of them... In other M.E. shows, the set-up for cliched situations abound, but are subverted because the personalities of the characters force them to make unconventional choices. Give these agents more personality, and let their choices, good or ill, influence what happens. (Have them be professional, but their world view should affect the episode more than whining exposition to Coulson in the meeting room.)

In case that is confusing, let's take two examples. Skye is conflicted about how her hidden objective is at odds with her role on the team. But we only see this when the story confronts it head on: in closing scenes where she looks ruefully at her phone, or when Coulson barked at her in the last ep. There was very little evidence that this was eating her up in any of the other scenes. (I think it is more interesting when the characters are subconsciously bothered by something, in situations that are not directly related to what is bothering them.)

Second example, from "The Asset". Coulson shoots the floor, and we see that he can make the tough choice. Except, we already knew this about him. Even worse, I could see swapping in May or Ward or any generic high-level SHIELD agent, and they would do the same thing... Now suppose that Fitz or Simmons were there, when it was established that they have deep respect for Dr. Hall. That would make it a little more shocking when they had to pull the trigger... Or if that seems telegraphed, create a situation where FitzSimmons were going to be in that room, but Coulson butts in at the last second. That would create a situation where they could be momentarily offended that Coulson didn't trust them, but we find out that he anticipated that things could go bad and he spared them. (That creates more interesting stakes for 2 or 3 characters.)

Obviously, this is all hind sight. But in a show about the World of Weird, I want something more interesting from the main cast itself, and not just the case-of-the-week.
Great article. I agree with almost everything.
I'm enjoying the show as it's unfolding. Though I'm obsessed with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I'm not a Whedon fanboy as someone above described. I didn't especially like Firefly and hated Dollhouse. And I'm still angry about the Season 8 comics. Hulk angry.
But I loved The Avengers and so far this show is working for me.
A lot of the show's early criticism has been about the focus on Skye. I'm sure the rest of characters will get some kind of development in the next few episodes.

I am also sure that a whole season arc is already planned and the stakes will be elevated by mid-season. I also think that the darker side of SHIELD will play a big role soon; especially with the Coulson mystery. Lets not forget that in the Whedonverse organizations such as The Initiative and The Aliance have been portrayed is a not so kind manner.

Also, I get the feeling that whatever organization is being set up as antagonist will have a Wolfram & Hart feel to it. AoS will get better and it will happen soon. I also believe more characters will be joining the team as time passes. In the Buffyverse, some of the best characters came in latter seasons: Spike, Anya, Wesley.
Admittedly this show hasn't grabbed me like other Joss Whedon shows yet but right from the pilot I saw it had potential and each week the potential gets stronger for me. I'm a member of a gaming forum that does seem to have a lot of Whedon fans and the response to the show has been luke warm so far but the last couple of episodes people have been more intrigued and wanting to keep watching and enjoying it more. The last episode I enjoyed the most so far. I do think the ship as the "home" base isn't working for me and maybe they could give them a secret bunker somewhere.
You don't fix AoS, it fixes you.
Really good article. Agree with pretty much all of it. But the show is so deeply flawed right now I don't think it will be an easy or quick fix. I'm glad they at least have a full season to try and change it around.

The show definitely needs some kind of title sequence. A recognizable theme that helps to build its identity. Get rid of the Marvel logo and the stinger and add some proper credits.

And the plane isn't working for me either. It makes the show feel very claustrophobic. Do they all just live on it, constantly flying around the world for no apparent reason until a random mission pops up?
While I do feel that there is something off, or missing, that hopefully more time with the show will resolve... I don't think it's at the point of needing 'fixing' yet...

I do like the idea of limiting their resources, I feel like there was something from the pilot about them being slightly separate from SHIELD in a way? Like they didn't want this task force formed or something like that? I might be making that up, but anyway, I would think that would mean that maybe they couldn't access all of SHIELD resources, so that could be a cool idea...

Other than that, it talks about Dr Who and how every week could be exploring something different, but doesn't Shield kinda do that? In a way? The idea that some weeks it's a spy thriller, some weeks it's dealing with a super hero, some weeks it's dealing with some sort of scitech thing...

"Cycle out old characters"... characters are old after 5 eps? And for referencing Walking Dead, I love it, but anyone dying at the end of the 6 episode first season wouldn't have really made me feel much... it kinda... broke their argument for me.

And they talk about bringing in super powered people when there have been some... I dunno, this article was just very strange to me.

And I like the Extremis thing, I didn't really pick up on it in the pilot, but during this week when my brain finally made the connection, I thought it was really cool...
I agree with a lot of these complaints. I probably over hyped the show, but this took 5 episodes to find its footing. Thats too much in todays tv world. I hope that it continues improve as episode 5 was by far the best episode.
I'm liking it a lot and I think trust in what is planned by Joss and crew is needed. If I feel any ennui at all towards AoS it's because I have to check myself and recheck, "Okay, it isn't like other Whedon shows, so stop those critical thoughts". I'm like anyone, I guess; have to get over my inner whining about why I'm not instantly connecting and I had the same reaction to Dollhouse and ended up loving it. I also think it's easy for a writer to be provocative (I didn't read the article, don't want to as I'm stuffed to the gills after years of reading criticism of what Joss does) to cause controversy.

Coulson is the only character I love thus far but I don't want to see anyone die until/if it serves the plot. I totally agree with what SuperScuba said, relating what happened to The Walking Dead (a whole season on the farm? Shane? Lori?) as something we definitely don't want to happen with AoS.
How much is Joss actually involved? It doesn't feel like a lot, but maybe I'm imagining that.
My suggestions:

1) Put an official forum somewhere and listen to what the people watching your show have to say.

2) Your heroes can only be as heroic as your villains are evil, read: bring on the big bad. The bigger and badder the better.

3) I don't know if you need a stable of B list heroes. I'd settle for adding 1 to the team. I suggest Laura Vandervoort as Mockingbird.
Good article. AoS definitely has a lot of problems, more than any Whedon shows had at the beginning. I was very disappointed by the first episodes of Dollhouse, but a least it was ambitious, and had a very original concept. AoS doesn't seem to bring anything new to the genre so far, and the dialogues are not good enough to make it okay (I mean some of the writing in ep 5 was just embarrassing).

I'm sure it will improve, but I'm afraid some things will stay the same, like some of the sets, the plane (God it's ugly), the visual style, very generic... and the fact that it seems to be a Marvel show before being a Whedon show.
I'm still hoping that last thing will change, but episode 5 was so mediocre that I'm having doubts for the first time.

Also agree that they need an opening credits (even if very brief). Some shows don't need one, but this one really does. And change the ugly SHIELD logo!
I really don't know what to think about SHIELD. It doesn't feel remotely like a Joss Whedon show. The jokes are, for lack of a better word, lame, and when it tries to be serious, I don't care enough about these dolled-up young people to care. I can tell, most of the time, what the writers were trying to do, but it just isn't working.

The plots are predictable and the sets and CGI look cheap - but that's okay. If they had the guts to take it even further, there would be something adorably quaint about it. I'd be fine with every single issue - if the characters were worth it. But so far, they aren't. Coulson's "enigma" is an issue because there just isn't enough of him in there. If there were other characters to fill the Coulson-less gap and deepen the mystery around it - like the lovely Ron Glass moment in the pilot - it would work very well, but these other just characters don't hold up.

I want to use Dollhouse here as a parallel, because it's still pretty recent and was maligned upon its release. Personally, I admired and even loved most of the show immensely. But I hated Ballard with a blinding passion. Hated him. And unfortunately, the show was preoccupied with him and developing his relationship with Echo. But despite that, there was Echo herself, there was Topher, Saunders, Boyd - all of them fascinating characters in their own right, fascinating from the very beginning. I didn't always like the plots - some of them had the same paint-by-numbers feel that SHIELD's do - but I loved getting to know those people, their world. And there was always a truth to it all, some major issues being addressed - humanity, equality, privacy, ethics... I knew what the Dollhouse did, why it did it, what the repercussions were, and what inner lives the characters led.

Meanwhile, what does SHIELD do? What is the point of SHIELD? Does it help newly-found heroes/mutants? Does it rid the world of creepy tech one weird metal thing at a time? Does it fly around in expensive planes and wreck them for fun? All of these things at once? If it's the latter, what are the stakes? If they can do anything, why should I care? I agree with the article - have them lose funding, have them be threatened in some way. Make them a good-guy version of The Initiative that scary vampire-folk are trying to take over. Give them a purpose.

But most importantly, the characters: do its characters do anything in their spare time? Do they have any interests? If the camera left, what would they be doing? Xander, Giles, Topher, Kailee - I understood these characters from the get-go. Topher played with the toys all over his office. And ate snacks. Giles probably tenderly reorganized the bookshelves every other minute. Adelle made tea and drank it through pursed lips. Kailee dreamed of strawberries. What does tech-girl do, besides staring at tech-guy? What does Skye do, besides hack stuff? What does what's-his-name (Ward?) do besides looking annoyed? They talk about their pasts - something about her parents, something about his brother, but we don't see any life in them at all.

I don't care about the mythology of Marvel and so on. I don't mind there not being characters from the comics or even superheroes in there. I understand silly plots (possibly dictated by the studio?) and being limited by the franchise. But give me someone to root for!
It's really not that hard.

I've heard a lot of criticism, and I have three suggestions which I'm confident would make this into a great show.

First up, they should develop all the characters and various subgroups of characters in detail. So far they've focused mostly on Skye, with her getting 70% or so of the attention. For 350% they could have everyone developed. ABC might not go for 3.5 hour episodes, so I say:

Suggestion #1: Make more episodes.

Next up, there should be bigger ongoing plot lines. This flaw was obvious right from the pilot episode. Not a single thing was brought back from previous episodes (the movies don't count, of course). What were they thinking?

Suggestion #2: Consider bringing back some plot points in later episodes. Maybe Tahiti. Or Centipede. Or the Doctor. Or something to do with Skye and her secret agenda.

And finally, everyone knows Joss's strength in writing is killing off lots of characters (ignore that it's not actually such a high number). Now, I think we all would agree on which death in a Joss series had the biggest emotional impact. You know who I'm talking about . Right? Right. Jesse. Obviously the earlier you kill a character, the more it hurts. Why haven't they killed of anyone yet?

Suggestion #3: Travel back in time and kill off one of the main characters before the series even starts. That would be perfect.

So there you have it. If they follow these three suggestions, it will be a great show. And I'm confident they'll go along with these. So if you're worried about the show, as people sometimes are after watching the first 5 aired episodes of every other Joss show, stop worrying and enjoy it.
Opti - You just made my day.
Opti wins the Internet for the day!! Spot on!
Suggestion #3: Travel back in time and kill off one of the main characters before the series even starts.

They already did that and it's working for me. I think letting the tech twins have more lines not about tech would also help.
I'm down with this article. SHIELD has so much potential as a concept, but it's wavering right now. The storytellers really do need to take some risks.
I don't agree on killing the characters, but I think the show could use 1 or 2 additional shield agents (with the age, experience and talents of someone like Black Widow and Hawkeye) that are believable agents. It makes no sense to me that there are so many rookies in the group. Coulson and May are the most interesting and they are also the most experienced as secret agents. Get more mature, older characters (I'm saying this as a 28 year old).

On Buffy it made sense because the characters were supposed to be in high school. But this cast is overall the youngest on any Whedon show since Buffy.

I'll stick with it. There are aspects that I liked. But although I wasn't expecting another Marvel movie or typical Whedon show, I did expect the characters to be more like Coulson, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Fury.
Well, Ward and May are a lot like Black Widow, aren't they? Ward is approximately her age, and is said in the pilot to be almost as good as her for infiltration.

Skye is younger, inexperienced, but she's not an agent. FitzSimmons was never meant to be on the field, but they're obviously pretty good at what they do.

Also, having some inexperienced characters makes identification easier, and exposition a lot smoother.
True about Ward/May. And their screentime is a lot of what keeps me watching. It just seems a lot of screentime is being given to Skye, Fitz and Simmons and it feels like there shouldn't be that much inexperience on a team that is that important.

Part of what intrigued me about Buffy was that, even at 16, she was very weathered and inexperienced, almost to the point of being bitter. And that made her character more interesting than many other characters.
whedonite26, someone like Cigarette Smoking Man (X-Files) maybe? He was not only savvy because of the intrigue, he was part of it. Because that would be really cool; he left an indelible impression. Just not evil. And they need an Adele.

[ edited by Tonya J on 2013-10-26 00:34 ]
If Joss kills off Skye I will gladly donate money to his favorite charity.
If I have a huge problem with anything it's that the stories so far don't feel organic. For example, the Rising Tide thread should not have been in the Pilot. It was forced. The first time we should have heard about that group was in the last episode. It would've provided more intrigue, suspense and make you truly wonder where Skye's loyalties lie.
I'm enjoying AoS a lot and I don't mind waiting for it to develop naturally. Yes, there's a lot of room to improve. But not necessarily through these 'fixes'. The writers probably aren't using them because that's not the kind of story they want to tell.

But let me be hypocritical and say my suggestion (because clearly a viewer knows better than a writer, right?) Delirium_haze, I completely agree about organic storytelling. I thought the Rising Tide worked fine in the pilot, though, since it came with Skye's character introduction. But it would be fun to see some more missions-of-the-week develop unexpectedly, rather than being handed to them at the start of the episode. Or even some episodes where the characters have time to do their own thing for a while before going into work-mode. That way they'd be less prepared and we might get more variation in mission types and episode structure.

For example, I would have happily watched an entire episode revolving around the Rising Tide's infiltration of SHIELD last episode and what the team does when they have to deal with Skye.

Oh yeah, and make it 100% arc-driven and serialised. Because Firefly had none of that standalone drivel, did it?
Dollhouse had tons of standalone drivel, but the thing that kept me watching was the characters (same with Buffy and Angel Season 1).

We need Joss to come in and write an episode that does for these characters what "Family" did for Tara.
I actually agreed with most of what he said, actually.
I am not a fan off any of the current staff writers for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Although they are probably talented in their own right handing off show running duties to your brother and sister-in-law reeks of nepotism and the IMO middle of the line results that have been produced so far makes me think this might be a contributing factor.

I am also thoroughly underwhelmed with the staff writers. With the exception of Jeffrey Bell (who did some passable work on Angel, Alias, X-Files and Spartacus but none of the ones that I consider the greatest most classic episoides at first glance anyway, point out a few I may have missed) I am not familiar with the others at all.

A top to bottom overhaul of the Writer's Room would help a lot. I hope that we could get single episodes from or staff positions for the following Whedonverse alums:

1) Ben Edlund: Creator of the Tick, Angel, Firefly, Supernatural (I haven't watched it) and he is currently employed on the IMO lackluster Revolution which is look up now that Rockne S O'Bannon and Edlund are writing for them but I'd rather have AoS get better than Revolution.

2) Jane Espenson: Buffy, Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Dollhouse, Torchwood(haven't seen it either) and now she's is primarly involved on the guilty pleasures that are the Once Upon A Time original & spin-off. Her writing style & quailty is so terrific that even without the opening credits I can tell it's one of her episodes because of the jump up in quality.

3) Drew Goddard: Buffy, Angel, Alias, Lost, Cabin In The Woods, etc. I am not sure what he's up to since IMBD only has the Cloverfield sequel listed for upcoming credits.

4) Tim Minear: Angel, Firefly, Wonderfalls, Dollhouse, Terriers, The Chicago Code and American Horror Story. I think 2nd season of AHS was his last so maybe he should need a job.

5) David Fury: Last but not least as I love this guys work - Buffy, Angel, Lost, Fringe and 24 (which I don't watch but that's his current gig.

6) Steven S. DeKnight: not one of my personal favorites for his work in the whedonverse but he has done really good work since that I really enjoy. I think he currently developing a Halo like show for Starz so he is probably way too busy for AoS.

7) David Greenwalt: another writer who I don't have favorite episodes at the tip of my tongue but a solid writer and I enjoy Grimm although it's been a fairly pedestrian show for the most part with flashes of humor and brilliance; it has been getting more enjoyable as time has placed. IMO it seems ti fit in the Whedonworld of Buffy and Angel, heck it even has a 5 word one name title that's the hero of the piece - Grimm. Well since Grimm is doing so well he's probably too busy to cross networks to help a competing show?

Non-Whedonverse Writers that might be a good fit or just crazy spit balling ideas:

1)Brian K. Vaughan: He would have to work around his Under the Dome schedule but that shouldn't be too tough since that is scheduled to debut in summer again. I loved his worked on Lost.

2) J. Michael Straczynski: Babylon 5, Jeremiah (a showtime Belgian comic adaptation), World War Z, Thor (movie), The Real Ghost Busters cartoon, Captain Powers and the Soldiers of the Future (crazy deep, intelligent and dark for those of you in the know you know of what I refer) and he had a celebrated run on Amazing Spider-Man.

3)Zombie Shakespeare: or even better Vampire Shakespeare so we can actually understand him when he communicates.

Please feel free to add you own suggested writers or mock me for the naivety of mine:
What really blows my mind is the sheer volume of distaste for Dawn, I mean Skye. The nature of the pilot pretty much required that she be the first character fleshed out a bit but I guess it could be argued that it would have been better had it been someone else. Be that as it may I enjoyed the arc enough to want to see more.

Moving on to other related matters if I had to guess the next character to get attention will be Melinda May. She seems to have a few more dangling issues than the others and imo the show would benefit if she becomes a bit more active. TBH so far she is the best of the new characters (imo) mainly because her minimalist displays of emotion crack me up.
@bedukay. All the writers you mentioned are great, but have steady jobs. Tim Minear, who I consider to have written the best Whedonverse episodes besides Joss Whedon himself, has a non-cancelled show for once. Jane Espenson is a heavy hitter in Once Upon a Time and is doing Husbands. Ben Edlund is great, but I think he's commited to Eric Kripke. Drew Goddard is witting movies now, so he's out of the picture. Steven S. DeKnight did Spartacus, so I believe he may want to do his own stuff now. I'm not aware of what David Fury is up to now. Greenwalt is not goint to leave his own show for a project that might not get a second season.

Joss was able to assemble great writing teams in the past. What I'm concerned about is that he's not in the writers' room to break every story, so I'm not sure if other writers can learn from him like those guys you mentioned did. Joss is said to be approving every script, but I guess it's not the same as actually being in the room.

Also, Jeffrey Bell did great work on AtS. Off the top of my head he did co-write the finale, which I think was great. Also, Jed and Maurissa are not amateurs, Joss has worked closely with them in Dr. Horrible and Dollhouse (they did write Epitaph One). I once read Joss said (I don't remember where) that Maurissa could go toe to toe with Tim Minear in the writers room, which is no small feat (it would appear she's the better half of that team).
I cannot agree more with the comparison to watching this and Dollhouse, prettymaryk. Dollhouse's plotting and central arc took a few eps to really kick off, but I was immediately drawn into that world, those characters, and its overarching themes. Dollhouse is maligned (far too much in my opinion), but even if we regard it as the weakest Whedon show, it's still leagues ahead in terms of writing quality and its casting. I suppose my greater point is that people all over the internet are making excuses for SHIELD and presenting some supposed fact that states that all Whedon shows sucked before a certain later point. Perhaps I'm missing something, but I was drawn into his past four TV ventures from the go. You can say that those weren't perfect all you want, but they drew passion from people for those characters and those worlds. The dialogue was Whedon-y and the casts were perfect. There just seems to be a lot of praise for being just okay and I don't get it. At all. And I promise that I am not being negative to be negative; I inordinately love everything by Joss Whedon, but this has left me sadly cold. I wish I could say otherwise.
I can't speak for the other two people who defend AoS on the Internet, but I'm feeling about the same level of love for AoS than I felt for Dollhouse at episode 5. And there's no way that Stage Fright was leagues head in terms of writing ;) I ended up loving Dollhouse, which is why I'm hopeful, and willing to forget the few clumsy parts. If we don't get a Man on the Streets episode before the end of the season, then I'll be disappointed (though I have to say that Eye Spy was close to being my MotS episode).

I also remember that everyone hated Topher, complained about the episodic nature of the show, said Eliza couldn't act, and that there was no-one to love on the show that we could identify with.

Now, everyone hates FitzSimmons, complains about the episodic nature of the show (not this article, though, who wants it to be more episodic), and so on.

Surely some people will never come to like AoS, but I am still convinced that what the show needs is more time to tell its story, and that we'll love more characters once they've lived and actually done things on screen.
I DON'T inordinately love everything by Joss Whedon.
I had already given up Dollhouse by this point, Firefly even quicker. Although I eventually watched the whole thing on DVD because three different people gifted me sets because of my Whedon fannishness. And I like Serenity.
But I am enjoying Agents of Shield so far. Along with millions of other watchers. Different strokes I guess. Before the show started I complained about the generic look of the cast, but as I get to know them more it's less of a problem. And I have liked all the guest stars a ton except that ex-lover of Coulson.
As far as Skye, I'm wondering if the big Eliza Dushku fans might be feeling resentful of the newer version. I get that. I think part of the reason I didn't like Firefly was because I loved Buffy so much. Me, I have never been a Faith fan so I'm totally cool with Skye. Better actress in my humble opinion.
Hmmm. I don't really get the repeated defense of SHIELD by putting forward supposed consensuses regarding his other shows' level of quality. I loved Topher and knew many others who loved him from the go. Also, I would take Stage Fright to any episode of SHIELD as it stands now. It's cool; I understand it's subjective. Have fun with SHIELD, guys. I'm glad you can find something redeeming there.

[ edited by miroir_noir on 2013-10-26 19:21 ]
Cool it on the less than subtle digs at other posters.
I would also like to see more from established Whedonverse writers. Yeah, most of them have gigs already but TV writers also tend to move around a lot. AoS is a high-profile hit, despite all the angst on here about the ratings, and for most of those writers it would be at worst a lateral move. Even if they wouldn't be available for the ongoing staff, they could still contribute the occasional freelance one-shot.

In addition to those already mentioned I wouldn't mind going after Bryan Fuller, Paul Dini, and even Jim Steranko.
I’ve just been wondering about the nature of SHIELD and its agents. As you will recognise, I’m far from an expert on the show, the comics or the movies. So these questions may have been covered 100 times in each medium already.

I vaguely remember hearing somewhere that all the show’s regular characters, at least, are ‘just’ humans. Is that actually a SHIELD rule, whether acknowledged or not? Do you only get made an agent of SHIELD if you’re purely human (and also no super-genius type like Tony Stark), ie powerless enough to be ‘controllable’? If you’re powerful enough to be a superhero, are you given more freedom than the agents, and SHIELD pretty much just has to do what it can to help you (while, of course, monitoring you as much as possible)? Or are the superheroes also counted as agents?

If there is indeed a kind of class system of heroes going on, it could be interesting to place more emphasis on that. How do the agents deal with their role as glorified assistants to people/beings much more powerful and/or intelligent than they are? And in times of great crisis, how do they feel about basically deploying the ‘big guns’ – the superheroes – to take on the most dangerous missions? How do the superheroes feel about the set up? Maybe the show needs one or two arrogant superheroes as semi-regular cast members, even though the emphasis stays on the normal people. A kind of ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are agents of SHIELD’? Or… maybe Skye, or some other agent, should discover hitherto-unrealised superpowers within themselves and we see their transition to the upper class and how that impacts on relationships etc…

The show doesn’t necessarily need this any more/less than any of the other suggestions. I for one would be interested to see it though!
I wasn't digging at anyone? I respect everyone has different opinions. I was simply discussing those opinions. Sorry to offend, Simon. I thought this was a place to be able to respectfully disagree.
I'm suprised no one has yet suggested that the character of Skye:

A. Be given a cool name like "Skye McGal" and a peculiar accent, possibly a tattoo

B. kill people randomly on the bus for no apparent reason.

C. have a cool car to drive around in, like a 1978 Trans Am or one of them Dukes of Hazard cars

D. Have a cool catch phrase like "I got a hack you can plot"

E. Wear a cowboy hat

Then like Coulson would say "May, where the devil is Skye?"
Then Ward would say "In her muscle car sir", then everyone would laugh except Fitz who would say something about gadgets or something. Then people at home would think, "Man that Skye sure is cool, a real rebel."
I think the article has some decent ideas and valid criticisms, but I also think many continue to consider this "a Joss Whedon show" in what we'd consider the traditional sense, and forget about the multinational media conglomerates behind this. Considering the number of cooks in the kitchen it's surprising it has any personality at all, and I do think as they go on and get more comfortable with what they have and what they want to do, Jed and Mo will up the intrigue and quality. I think in some respects the show is a bland thriller at this point, but I also see a ton of room to grow and improve, so I'm OK with them continuing on the path they're on so far.
I just hope it sticks around long enough for Joss to get the time to properly work on it. But maybe he's finished with television.
I'm enjoying it. I'm not addicted yet, by any means, but I haven't stepped away from an episode feeling disappointed. I utterly adore Fitz, & to a lesser degree, Simmons; May is perfect; & Coulson is back on my screen. I'm really liking some of the scifi tech (the tray & napkin brought me all kinds of joy). I don 't think that anything is in dire need of "fixing", just in dire need of further developing.

But I've always had a lot of patience with my fiction. They'd have to somehow ruin Coulson in my eyes for me not to give them time to grow. Of course I would prefer to be hooked right off the bat, but many of my favorite shows didn't do that.
The show is simply blah...with a side of blah. I want to like this show SOOOOO bad but it's really hard. I think because the movies set the bar so high (as past TV shows) and the fact that I think this show has been VERY average....simply disappoints.
The problem with saying "kill off characters that aren't working" is, who decides that? No one would be satisfied. It's a lazy suggestion. I think the show needs to develop its identity. Is it family friendly? Just embrace that, then. Is it wanting to be more mature? If I can't sum up this show in one sentence, in a way that gives you a clear picture of what it is, that's a problem. I have no idea what this show really is.
The writers of AoS could take some honest cues from Arrow. Now there's a show that stays true to its comic book roots (much like the Dark Knight films), with plenty of action and character development. It was the CW's breakout hit last season.
I think that hte main problem here is that, despite everyone's thinking, this is not a Joss show. It is a Disney/Marvel show. And therefore it operates under constraints. It has to remain family friendly. It has to license use of various superheros. It uses Skye as the main point of buy-in, which is a mistake simply because people identify with whom they identify with. Until the program can worm free of its corporate interests, it will never fly to the heights we all know it can reach.
This is not a Joss show. It is a Disney/Marvel show. And therefore it operates under constraints.

Sadly, the constraints are a non-issue. Joss knew all about them when he took the paycheck. No one can honestly complain about them now.
Sure, people can complain. Joss might have taken them, does not mean anyone has to like them. I certainly think it is an issue, and do not believe I am alone in thinking this.
This is not a Joss show. It is a Disney/Marvel show. And therefore it operates under constraints.

This is misleading. He has always had constraints, whether they've been budget or creative, and whether he's been in it 100% (Buffy, Firefly) or not (AoS). It's naive to think that Joss would be able to do whatever he wanted to if only his show was somewhere else, produced by a different company, or distributed by a different company. Constraints go many ways. Some fans have said that he would do so well on Showtime or HBO...well, what if Joss didn't want to have a show with a lot of profanity, nudity, or violence? Showtime and HBO shows tend to push the envelope in each category.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2013-10-28 20:57 ]
@KissingToast Yeah I was aware they are busy I was just saying they would be a definite improvement over the current staff. As I mentioned in my post last I knew Steven S. DeKnight is developing a new show for Starz a Halo meets Bands of Brothers type thing. I'm pretty sure Jane Espenson could find the time to do one or two episodes she always seems to do multiple shows. As much as it's wishful thinking on getting any of those writers it would be a drastic improvement over the current staff even if they only did one or two episodes a season.
I just hope Joss isin't thinking, "oh, I made money with Marvel, this must be my niche."

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