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November 18 2013

'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.': Fall's biggest disappointment. The Huffington Post's Maureen Ryan vents her Hulk rage in a constructive fashion.

I find the show boring too, but I wouldn't be quite as harsh on it. Of course, it's also not my job to be. I still think it could get better, but right now it's not working for me. I will keep watching though.
I still like AOS in a transitory popcorn sort of way, but I do find that my re-watch of shows like The 4400, and watching the current season of The Vampire Diaries, make me wish a bit that it would be more like a show that commits to, plunges into, and burns through plot and character with an almost reckless abandon.

It's entirely possible it doesn't want to be that kind of show, which is a legitimate choice, but I do admit that I wish I enjoyed it in more than a transitory popcorn sort of way. I see more glimpses of possibility than Ryan does, in the last couple of episodes, but I also tend to feel, after the in-the-moment of an episode has worn off, that there's a bit more... artifice(?) to how stories are put together than I think is sustainable over time.

She's definitely right, though, that the Tahiti thing has just become annoying at this point. We all get it, so either pull the trigger on that already or just leave it alone. I'm not sure the staff has figured out how to roll out long threads like that in an organic or meaningful way; all those bits are still sort of an empty puzzle at this point.
If the plane on "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." went down with the loss of all souls aboard, I would not care. In fact, I would welcome it.

Unfortunately it's hard to see how any measures short of a total reboot could get this adventure drama to straighten up and fly right.

Hardly constructive. The article reads like a full blown temper tantrum.
I understand where the venting is coming from. In the pilot, Coulson has referred to it as "the strangest show on Earth", but it doesn't feel that way. Quite a few of the recent scripts were from former "Chuck" writers, and I had a similar problem with that show: what should be exciting and dangerous came across as rote and measured.

I realize that one mandate is to keep the show "grounded" in reality (with flying cars and fire breathing test subjects), but the show could use more (Jack) Kirby craziness, less spies-in-a-corporate setting. (Why would people who are hooked onto NCIS decide to jump ship?)

(I will disagree with the author about "Tahiti". Has it really been used that many times? First was kind of a joke, next to show to the audience that something was off, and the last time to show that Coulson noticed it.)

[ edited by OneTeV on 2013-11-19 00:56 ]
Frankly, Skye is the problem. The story comes from her POV and it is so hard to empathize with her no matter the situation. I just don't care but I really want to care. Anyone else feel the say way?
I find the show boring too, but I wouldn't be quite as harsh on it. 

Yeah - while I generally agree with her, I do find her tac to be somewhat on the harsh side (granted, I was coming into the show with much lower expectations.*) Infact, the most intriguing thing to me about this show was going to be to see how much genuine character and intrigue they'd be able to get away with injecting into it given its high bland-juggernaut potential - which I am sorry to say has so far proved to be n a pretty resounding "not much."

* Full disclosure - I am, in fact, not a natural Marvel fan.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2013-11-19 01:11 ]
While I'm enjoying the show as is, I would not be opposed to Maurissa and Jed adopting a more Dollhouse season 2 pace for the remainder of the season.

[ edited by Barry Woodward on 2013-11-19 01:16 ]
If I judge the show on its own I really like it (especially the last few eps) and I'm growing to like the characters (the virus ep helped a lot). It's finding its feet and there's a lot of hope for it.

Having said that, when I compare it to Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse the characters aren't nearly as intriguing as the characters were in those shows for the first few eps, and when I compare it to other fall premiers like Sleepy Hollow and the Originals it pales in comparison character wise.
I feel the exact same way Spacegirl3200. Ever since I saw the first episode at ComicCon, I LOVED it..... except for Skye. I personally dislike Chloe's portrayal of the character, almost to the point where I don't want to keep watching because of Skye.
So, what you're saying is, Skye's the limit?

[ edited by Barry Woodward on 2013-11-19 01:18 ]
@FangedFourLover @Barry Woodward Skye is annoying but it also goes back to my expectations. I thought SHIELD would be about Black Widow/Hawkeye like characters(a darker, edgier show) and wouldn't have these spy wannabes (except for May).
I wish reviewers would take the time to consider Joss's other TV shows. None of them have fast-pace first seasons with big overarching storylines- they're character driven with mostly stand-alone episodes. The big stories are for later. People have no patience.
@libradude: I will disagree with that, to an extent. Buffy and Angel got better after the first season, but the first season was still good. If those shows stayed at 1st season quality, I would have still stuck around (although not have been fanatic about it). Firefly even more so (although Fox airing "The Train Job" first almost pushed me away).

What is keeping me with MAoS right now is its potential to be more than it is. (Mostly from what was seen in the pilot episode.) If it stays the same, which it might (if this *is* the show they want to make), then there are older shows on Netflix which I've been meaning to catch up with.
J. August Richards as Mike Peterson in the "Pilot" and Pascale Armand as Akela Amador in "Eye-Spy" really stole the show with their guest starring roles. If I were on the creative team, I'd push to incorporate them into the main cast.

[ edited by Barry Woodward on 2013-11-19 01:50 ]
I wish reviewers would take the time to consider Joss's other TV shows. None of them have fast-pace first seasons with big overarching storylines- they're character driven with mostly stand-alone episodes. The big stories are for later. People have no patience. - libradude

You know, people keep saying that but it's not true.

Buffy's first season was not perfect but it was scrappy, it was different, it had identity, the seeds for greatness were there. Firefly was fully formed right out of the gate. Dollhouse was not good but then "Man On The Street" came and with it the best stretch of the show. I can't see that happening here.

And with so many really good dramas on the air, should anyone really expect people to have patience? I don't see any reason to. Why don't they just make a great show since episode one? Why do we have to wait?

Edit: And I don't consider MAOS a Joss show. Come on! He's busy making Avengers 2. I'm sure he's somewhat involved but it's not his show.

[ edited by Ricardo Leal on 2013-11-19 01:40 ]
I agree with this review.

I'll stick with the show a bit longer because it's at least shown improvement, but it doesn't have anything that I love.

Even with Dollhouse, I felt like it had something original that it would grow into (and it did).

With SHIELD, I don't think Joss is really that involved. But if it stays on, maybe it'll really improve once he's not devoting so much time to Ultron.
If Agents of SHIELD doesn't work out for ABC in the ratings department, perhaps Netflix could pick it up for future seasons. Having less episodes per season, a bigger budget per episode and no running time or content restrictions could be just what it needs to realize its full potential. Plus, greater crossover potential with Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and The Defenders.
@Ricardo Leal I completely agree about the feeling that Joss is not that involved compared to his other shows. It also has the feeling of ABC/Disney interference that keeps it's shows from exploring edgier themes in a more mature way.
It occurs to me, reading this thread, that flying Lola was a promise. A promise of adventure, mystery and excitement. The game, so far, has not had a change as big as making Lola fly. And that's a little weird?
What this show needs is a Mayor Wilkins, if you know what I mean. Bring forth a Mr. Centipede, even if it's someone in the SHIELD bureaucracy.
And with so many really good dramas on the air, should anyone really expect people to have patience? I don't see any reason to. Why don't they just make a great show since episode one? Why do we have to wait?


Telling people they should wait for the show to get better is hardly a great endorsement. And stating that people lack patience when they’ve stuck with the show for 7 weeks and are consistently underwhelmed is really quite unfair. If Whedon’s name wasn’t attached to AoS I would have dropped it ages ago and, no, I don’t feel the slightest bit bad about that.

Frankly, there's just no excuse for why this show (or any show) wasn't great from episode 1. Plenty of writers manage it and the argument that “Well, Whedon shows are never good at the beginning so what do you expect?” is actually kinda depressing. It's very rare that any show will be at its best from the very beginning but there are plenty of shows that are great from the pilot onwards. Instead of expecting people to readjust their expectations to suit Whedon and Co how about expecting Whedon and Co to ‘up their game’ and deliver the same calibre that other writing teams are capable of producing? There is just so much amazing television being made right now that if someone doesn't have the "patience" to stick with a series that is a constant letdown than that's more than understandable, IMO.

And I don't even agree that Whedon shows are always bad in S1. In regards to BtVS/AtS, the first seasons may have paled in comparison to what was going to come later on but IMO they showed a great deal more promise than AoS. I was in love with the Scooby Gang from the very beginning and the writing was witty and innovative. Dollhouse showed more ambition than AoS has thus far and I found characters like Adele Dewitt far more interesting than anyone in AoS. No, whilst AoS may have more impressive visual effects and has already settled quite comfortably into what it intends to be (and it seems to be settling for mediocrity) I don’t find it be remotely in the same league as Whedon’s past shows.

People can call me unforgiving, impatient or too critical but I’m just tired of this excuse that Whedon shows “need time” before they get good. Audiences have more great television to choose from than ever before and it’s literally right at their fingertips. If people choose to instead watch something that is great from the very start than that’s just good sense. Those series have earned their viewership whilst AoS, quite frankly, has not.

Me? I’m about ready to give up. I have yet to feel the urge to rewatch any episode other than the pilot which is never a good sign for me. With BtVS/AtS I would rewatch new episodes multiple times right after they aired and to get me through the week until the next episode. I did the same with Dollhouse. And 7 weeks in I still can never remember what day AoS actually airs and I rely on Whedonesque to remind me which I guess shows how little I look forward to it (I can barely wait between Thursdays for AHS to start). The only reason I stuck with the series this long is because Joss was involved and it’d feel really weird and just plain depressing to drop a Whedon show. But I’m just so bored and I couldn’t care a less about any of the characters. I agree with the article completely that the show is this fall's biggest disappointment.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2013-11-19 03:20 ]
The show is great. Best thing on television right now. Its funny, inteligent, dramatic... No problem at all. I love all the characters. Even Skye. Its good to have Joss back on tv. :)
Frankly, Skye is the problem. The story comes from her POV and it is so hard to empathize with her no matter the situation. I just don't care but I really want to care. Anyone else feel the say way?


I think it's because she's so unbelievable, there's no way an organization like SHIELD would let her in that quickly and keep her on despite betraying and hacking them multiple times now. They would have way more talented people to choose from who would be less of a risk.

Ward needs some character development too IMO. Fitz Simmons and Coulson hold the show, and May has potential.
People keep saying that Joss shows aren't great in season one. This statement has a whole lot of merit but the ratings on AOS are dropping fast. If this trend continues there's not going to be a season two to wow us. They need to pull the quality of this season up if they want to stay on air.
I have to agree with the people saying Skye is the problem. If it wasn't for Fitzsimmons and Coulson I would have dropped the show already.

I'm going to give this show until the mid-season finale to improve and if by then I'm still only enjoying it in spite of Skye I'll probably drop it.

To those people talking about how the first season of all Whedon shows are kind of slow and everything, yeah, they can be, but they all had a episode where it really wowed you in the first 12 episodes, Prophecy Girl, S1E12, I don't think anyone can argue this episode can't be counted among the top Buffy episodes. Hero, S1E9, In the top Angel episodes for me and most people I've talked to about Angel. Out of Gas, S1E8, My favorite Firefly episode for sure. Man on the Street, S1E6. You could argue that in Buffy's case E7 Angel could be used instead, but either way all of these shows had that wow this is why I'm watching this show episode within the first 12 episodes, I've given AoS 7 weekly episodes, which with my TV watching habits is pretty amazing and if it doesn't pull up in the next 5 I'll be done, yes, F.Z.Z.T. was a good episode and I really liked it, but all the goodwill it made was destroyed by The Hub, where while watching I was groaning at Skye so much the people I was watching with were getting annoyed.

I've also started watching NCIS this fall and I am amazed by how much better it is than AoS, even only seeing the end couple episodes of a long relationship and thus having no context I cared more about that relationship between characters way more than anything in AoS, I know it isn't fair to compare a show in it's 11th season to one in it's 1st, but if AoS is trying to compete with NCIS it's hopelessly outclassed. It's just sad to see happen with how excited I was for AoS, but hey at least I can trust NCIS not to pull this, oh you've betrayed us 3 times, that's cool, you're still part of the team, and oh yeah, here's some classified documents I got for you, anything else you want?

I'm a couple episodes behind on it because of who I watch it with(Only seen up to episode 5(The Courier)), but I will say that from what I've seen of it Blacklist is completely blowing AoS out of the water. So instead of being the show I look forward to most out of the week as it should be, AoS is my least looked forward to show, behind even Canada's Worst Driver.
Seconding everything Vampmogs said. AoS has the Whedon stamp, but lacks the Whedon heart.
This review is spot on. The show gives me nothing to invest in character-wise or plot-wise. It is, as she says, superficial and inoffensive. And it really doesn't make much sense given how Marvel has hit its movies out of the park.
Hmmm - interesting.

I actually find Skye to be my favorite character by far, she's really the only one who seems to bring any energy to the proceedings. Given that Ward is the cool and controlled lead, May is the stoic lead, and Coulson is the clipped dialogue lead, there's not a lot of oomph in the proceedings. They really could use a slightly amped up character to liven things up

Also think that any conjecture about Disney/ABC interference is projecting blame off the Whedon name. By all accounts this is exactly the show they set out to make take it or leave it

That said, I enjoy the show - I have no doubt I'll see this season through, and I'd be stunned if it's not picked up for a Season Two. Perhaps by that time they'll have found the pacing that people can get behind
I am not caring about any of the characters so far either, so I agree with M. Ryan on that. I did like J. August Richards' character.

It's still early though, and I am hopeful that they can turn things around.
On the other hand, other critics would say the opposite. There is commentary to be said about fandom here as well but I've only just woken up.
You know what, I'm enjoying the show still, but I think it's hard to ignore that this show doesn't have the heart of other Whedon shows. As much as I think Jed and Maurissa are amazing writers, I wonder if maybe they do not have that particular 'Whedon touch' on their own. Let's not kid ourselves: Joss is hardly involved with the running of this show, even if his name is attached.
I don't think the show needs time to get better, I think we need time to notice how good it is. I think that watching the episodes again when we have more context will reveal stuff that we didn't see or didn't fully understand at first. At least, I hope so.

One can wonder why they could not make episodes that were immediately great, or characters that were not immediately lovable, but the strength in Whedon shows is in how the characters evolve, not in how cleverly they were conceived at first. Characters like Spike, Wesley or Lorne were very one-note when they first appeared, and it's only after a while that they developed into the characters we love and care about. I'm pretty sure Agents Ward and May will become more than what they are now.
Mo Ryan, along with Alan Sepinwell, is the most respected of critics for TV. Sepinwell actually has given up watching AoS. Ryan's critique should be cause for concern.
Still, Sepinwall called FZZT "the most promising episode so far". In my opinion, the last few episodes started addressing most of Ryan's points, but she doesn't appear to believe so, and I wonder why.
I'm really enjoying AoS. I care about the characters, I am enjoying the storyline, I am enjoying the seeds being planted for future stories and I really don't get the problem with the show.

I look forward to it every week.

Oh and I like Skye too:)
I agreed with vampmogs, who said everything that I feel better than I could.

I have been streaming "Prison Break". I have never seen it before and now I am in the middle of season 2. I am riveted to it and can't wait to see what happens next. This is the way I used to feel about Whedon shows and this is the way I want my TV to be. I realize that this is setting a high bar, but AoS is not doing it for me. I also believe (as many have stated above) that Joss is not very involved with this show because of other demands.

I have been watching Sleepy Hollow. I feel it looks great and has two wonderful leads but the storyline is patchy,overall it shows hope so I plan to stick with it. I have been watching Blacklist but honestly if James Spader wasn't in it I feel I would have stopped watching it. I am still enjoying Once Upon A Time and Supernatural. Out of all the "new" shows I am most interested in The Originals (which is funny because I really haven't enjoyed the couple of episodes I watched of the Vampire Diaries). IMO The Orginals has a very strong cast and good writing - I was especially impressed with how they set up a story in the first 3 episodes then turned it all around - very nice. I also have been impressed with Reign... and Dracula shows promise.

So - the new shows Sleepy Hollow and Blacklist are patchy but had great pilot episodes. The new shows The Originals, Reign, and Dracula, have been consistent and I really look forward to watching them. Aos - so far I am sorry to say...hasn't been my cup of tea :(
Yeah, Simon. People (some) seem to intentionally being ignoring the good reviews, wich abound, with exceptional glee and abandon... And the excuses they have when they are indicated... Quite interesting.
The common factor with all of the shows that have done well this year (new and old) are that they know what they are. AoS doesn't seem to know what it is yet (enough to focus on it, anyway).

We were sold the premise that it would be less about superheroes and more about how every day people and SHIELD deal with the effects of this brand new world of superheroes and super people - but so far, we haven't really gotten that. There is hardly any character development. How about exploring the dark side of this universe, the worship complex people might develop from knowing there are basically norse gods, aliens, and super-soldier programs?
@Simon: I just took a quick glance at the comments. Most (almost all?) of the comments that agree with the article use "I agree" or "I feel". That is personal opinion. "People" aren't saying that only bad reviews are correct or that there are not good reviews; they are saying that this particular review is able to articulate their personal frustration.

On the other hand, if you or BringItOn5x5 or Darkness don't feel that frustration, it makes sense that you don't agree with the article. As far as comments about fandom, I think it is telling which posters left out the "I", to try to make their comment sound like an absolute fact instead of an opinion. (If you are including other posts, where the comments have become a little more heated, then I would withdraw this comment. But this thread does not have that problem.)

[ edited by OneTeV on 2013-11-19 15:10 ]
We are a now mature fandom that does not like change. If Maureen has said Agents of SHIELD is a huge success, we would get far fewer comments. We are drawn to the minuses rather than the pluses.

Is Agents of SHIELD the best thing ever? No. I am getting attached to the show and character. Yes. Is the reaction to the show a bit too much. Yes. It's like we really wanted to set this show up for a fall. Maybe people resent Joss' sucesss. Maybe they want payback for what he did 10 or 15 years ago. Maybe it's not what they expected.

I will concede that the initial cheesiness didn't help, but it now seems to be almost like a witch hunt in some places. It's like, are we watching the same show?
Simon, your comment made me think of something, perhaps an analogy, or perhaps a flawed analogy. Many years ago, when my youngest son was in his early teens, he was a huge fan of a band called Dashboard Confessional. DC was sort of an underground sensation, knowon only to the cognoscenti, of which my son was apparently one. As the popularity of the "band" (in fact, a single person, Chris Carraba) grew, and became much more mainstream, my son lost interest and as time went on became a bit of a critic. I see similarities here. Joss Whedon has never been more popular than he is now, and he has also never been more mainstream. As I see it, as you gain in mainstream popularity, you begin to lose a bit of cache from those who followed you for so long and who held you so close; it is sort of inevitable. It is not possible to be all things to all people. Joss is someone with whom so many identify with; he resonates in their life, and when he changes- or seems to change- that is felt directly. We don't actually know him; we do think we know a lot about him and we identify closely. The show ends up being judged by staandards we set long ago, and when it comes up short- because it is not what our hopes want it to be- some criticize the person rather than the show itself. I find this show pure escapism, not resonant in any way. But for an hour I can watch so long as I do not look for what I saw in past programs. Enjoy solely on its merits, but it is not a show for the ages. Yet, anyway.
Dana5140, I laughed at your comment because I remember Dashboard Confessional and all of my friends also inevitably took on the "oh he sold out" opinion. It's like wearing the shirt that says "I listen to bands that don't even exist yet." People are always trying to get in on the ground floor, and when something they like gets mainstream, it's no longer a private experience. It happens with pretty much everything.

I think what is happening here is similar to what happened with Bad Robot, JJ Abrams' company. A lot of things come out of Bad Robot, but only a handful of them are created by or have Abrams' direct involvement (writing, directing, showrunning, etc). Subsequently, the products seem very hit and miss because people associate Bad Robot with JJ Abrams and the products are not to that standard fans expect. Abrams and Bad Robot are synonymous, just like Whedon is synonymous with Marvel.
I don't think the criticism is a reaction to Joss going mainstream. Avengers is one of my favorite movies ever and it doesn't get any more mainstream than that. I think the criticism is a reaction to people feeling disappointed about the quality of the show.

Ironically, I do think some of the greatest disappointment, and harshest criticism, is coming from Joss's biggest fans. I think these folks are more keenly aware of what Joss is capable of, and thus have much higher expectations. I try to watch without too many Joss-related expectations, and that improves my viewing enjoyment somewhat. I can't help hoping for better though... A lot better.
I still say AoS is my fifth-favorite Whedon show, which still places it probably in the top 10% of all TV shows I've seen. But it could be so much better.

I consider the tone of this review too harsh to represent my feelings, but it does capture the frustration of long-suffering fans who feel, "Dammit, this show was supposed to be a blockbuster, why isn't it? Why isn't every scene a pleasure to watch, like on Firefly? Why isn't every episode full of clever, quotable lines, like Buffy? Why aren't there any character that would make me burst into tears in my living room if they were to die?"

But the main thing is frustration by the fans that all the "mundanes" have been hearing for decades how brilliant Joss Whedon shows are, and now that he's finally got a show they'll watch, what they get is a competent but fairly unremarkable science fiction procedural, like they've seen many times before.

This show is OK. It'll either find its feet, or continue to bleed audience and get re-tooled, for better or worse. It would have to really, really croak in the ratings to get cancelled.

On the whole, I still think I would have preferred to see Joss do a "Men In Black" TV series based on the movie.
I don't want to play "who's the biggest fan", but I've been a fan of Joss since Buffy first aired, I've watched his shows, his movies, and read his comics, and I haven't been disappointed in AoS yet. I will be disappointed if, at the end of the season, it has not built upon the potential I'm seeing.

I'm still a bit worried of being blinded by my love for Joss, but we'll see. It was the same with Dollhouse, and it ended up being one of my favourite shows ever.
As I've noted before, it's fun for me to be able to sit down with my two older kids and watch a Whedon/Marvel t.v. adventure show every week, they're a tad too young for his other productions although they'll certainly get there. So on that basis alone, it gets a thumbs up from me, and quite frankly the scenario I describe is probably one of the main ones the network is going for with AoS. Is it Out of Gas or The Gift yet? Heck no. But it's pleasing enough for what it is, we'll continue watching and as some have mentioned, we'll continue hoping that there are some good payoffs on the way. I'm not a huge Skye fan either but to those who think she would have been fired 15 times by now, my suspicion is as they roll her backstory out that Coulson has her on board for more reasons than her quips and code.
"Dammit, this show was supposed to be a blockbuster, why isn't it? Why isn't every scene a pleasure to watch, like on Firefly? Why isn't every episode full of clever, quotable lines, like Buffy? Why aren't there any character that would make me burst into tears in my living room if they were to die?"

I agree. I don't think we would be discussing to this extent if it was just the case of a show missing elements that fans expected (quotable dialogue, wittiness, etc.). This show has a problem with basic things that make for good TV, like character development and interesting plotlines. It's a procedural, through and through, and I don't think that is working as well as fans hoped.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2013-11-19 17:46 ]
More than ever, we're finding ourselves in the age of Internet, where everybody feels the need to voice their opinions and concerns for all to read, the moment after ingesting a new piece of entertainment. At the same time, it seems that with large access to media, people have become more critical, less eager to please and more keen to focus on what doesn't agree with them, rather than either enjoying the ride & embracing whatever comes to them, or simply moving on to something else.

And the negative comments somehow always manage to stick out. Especially when with every bit of AoS-news, there's people complaining about similar issues - issues which all come down to a highly subjective matter. I've seen many people argue that they can't care about the characters in the show, yet I've also seen many people saying the exact opposite (myself included).

The amount of people who want to bother with going on-line and, for example, seeking out the AoS Facebook page to post a negative comment under every news item, really baffles me - why not accept that the show isn't for you, move on to find another show that is, and leave the show to the vast amount of people who DO enjoy it? But no - everyone wants to be heard, everyone feels that the show should be tailored to them, and of course everybody's a critic these days.

I'm speaking in general here - I can totally understand Whedonesque members being more critical of products coming from the people whose work they normally love. I mean that in general, on-line, AoS seems to be drawing far heavier fire than it deserves.
It especially seems so to me, as I'm really not seeing the problems. And I'm a Joss-fan & a Marvel Comics fan, I'm someone who had heavy expectations of the show to begin with. (And it's not that I'm THAT easy to please... I didn't give Once Upon A Time more of a chance than one episode, don't need to see more of Game of Thrones than the first season, stopped watching Grimm after half a season, ...)
It's like we really wanted to set this show up for a fall. Maybe people resent Joss' sucesss. Maybe they want payback for what he did 10 or 15 years ago. Maybe it's not what they expected. - Simon

I didn't see people setting Avengers up for a fall or resenting Joss's success. And why would people want payback? That doesn't make any sense.

Maybe the simplest explanation and probably the correct one is that people think the show is just not good.

And people keep saying this is Joss's show. For the record, I believe that if this was really Joss's show it would be better. He's taking the Abrams approach and he's not that involved.
Personally, I've been watching every week barring one - was out of the country and I couldn't find when it aired locally - and enjoying myself thoroughly (much to my father's consternation about how much fan exuberance noises I make for it and other past times) but, to steal a line from River Tam, "I understand but don't comprehend" re: others not sharing my view. Then again, there have been lots of popular shows that everyone else and their uncles have liked but I thought was far from entertaining. Viewpoints and opinions are funny ;P

Maybe the problem is that with MAoS, the main group barring Skye are seasoned - as in they trained, became accredited agents in their specialties and have been doing their jobs for a while now - SHIELD agents and they're part of The Man. Remember, Joss doesn't like The Man...all of his shows have actively pooped all over traditional authorities figures and power structures as party of the storytelling. So having his 5 out of 6 main characters be active entities of The Man means there's a lot of subverting and character building to do.

For me, I have to wonder if this show won't be Joss & Co.'s most challenging yet....
At the same time, it seems that with large access to media, people have become more critical, less eager to please and more keen to focus on what doesn't agree with them, rather than either enjoying the ride & embracing whatever comes to them, or simply moving on to something else.

I don't know that people are being critical for the sake of being critical. We've had some really, really good TV in the last 10 years. The bar has been raised for everyone, especially in an internet age where people are going to quit watching if you can't deliver on the first few tries or develop enough word of mouth enthusiasm to get people to come back. Patience only lasts as long as there's room on my DVR (sorry, Once Upon a Time and Hostages).
I think it is telling which posters left out the "I", to try to make their comment sound like an absolute fact instead of an opinion.

OneTeV, for my part, it's telling only insofar as I was taught that using "I" when stating your opinion is redundant. Stylistically, it might make my opinion appear more forceful, but that's merely a reflection of my own conviction, not my demand that anyone else bow to my perception of reality nor an indication that I mistake my opinion for fact (and certainly not an absolute fact).

Anyone else watch The Good Wife? "Is that in your opinion, counselor?" (Now that's an excellent show.)

[ edited by Emmie on 2013-11-19 18:39 ]
And why would people want payback? That doesn't make any sense.

Welcome to fandom. We bear grudges for a very long time.
Definitely a witch hunt going on here. This show is not meant to be what some want it to be. They really would be better served to move on. I truly wish they would.
Definitely a witch hunt going on here. This show is not meant to be what some want it to be. They really would be better served to move on. I truly wish they would.

But the show is currently down to a 2.2 rating even with all the people who are still watching hoping they'll eventually like it better. If all those people desert then the show would drop well below a 2.0, which puts it in "we have a big problem" territory as far as the TV executives are concerned.

I don't think very many people are hate-watching the show just so they can go online and slam it after each episode. (There are people who actually do that... I don't see much of it here, though.) Most are people like me who genuinely expect things to start picking up. I know for sure I'm not giving up on AoS at least until the end of this season.

Tonight's episode is a good opportunity for things to pick up, IMO. I hope they nail it.
As much as I'd like the show to be any of a number of different things, more experimental, weirder, more fantastical, faster with the story unfolding, et.c., and as much as I hope the show picks up a bit in those departments in the future, I'm definitely enjoying the show for what it is. There are many things this show could be but so far isn't, but what it is isn't done poorly. It's just maybe not a reflection of the full potential of what it could be, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility that it'll get there in a while. Dollhouse had similar problems, as did Angel and Buffy. They all took a while to get to the part where it clicked and they really got off and running. With Buffy, it was the middle of season 2, more or less (so 20-something episodes, since it was a mid-season replacement). With Angel, it pretty much started feeling like it's own thing somewhere at the beginning of season 2. With Dollhouse, it started getting somewhere a few episodes in, but didn't really feel overall well paced until they got into story panic a few episodes into season 2, when their days were literally numbered and they had to run to the finish line.
I'm perfectly happy to give this show at least a season of being what it is right now before I start expecting it to blow my mind. It works better than Buffy or Angel did this far in, and I think it's a decent starting point for what could become something great given a bit of time. I've enjoyed the last couple of episodes, and I see no sign of the Smallville syndrome (digging itself into a hole it can't possibly get out of) so far (which is more than I can say for for example Arrow, which shot itself in the foot quite a bit in season 1 and is now struggling to fix its mistakes, while continuing to make smaller dumb choices).
I'd agree with the witch hunt concept if other people in my real life weren't also giving up on the show. And yes they've enjoyed most of Whedon's stuff. They just aren't as obsessive or vocal as I am. I'd like to blame fandom, Internet and "everyone's a critic" age, but I think the show is losing people, at least in my real and online life.

I agree with others that this thoughtful conversation ( and overall this thread has not been a mud sling) indicates that concerns are valid.

I enjoy the show and will watch and tweet, etc. I think Joss et al need a new and better stable of writers.

Here's a good point: I caught my husband catching up with FZZT on his own. He liked it.
Speaking of tonight's episode, are we to assume that it will contain spoilers for those who haven't seen Thor: The Dark World?
I'm not sure I'd use the phrase "witch hunt" but there is, in unknown numbers, a group that resents the whole Disney/Marvel thing. It may be because it prevents Joss from creating "original" work, it may an inherent distrust that Disney will meddle, or part of it may be the "hip" quotient scales have turned. Either way, after long time building up comes inevitable knocking down.

There's also a fair amount (IMO) of rose colored glasses being worn by some critics. Go watch the first couple episodes of S1's and get back to me on how nuanced and layered Cordelia, Xander, or Gunn are. Or the first couple appearances of Fred or Wesley. The 'depth' that many point to was earned over season(s)

Speaking as someone who had to make multiple attempts to get through Season One of Buffy, I can attest its genius did not explode across my TV screen upon first glance

I don't know how much Joss is involved in the day to day - but I have little doubt the "little man" concept was his, and his archtypes are all present and accounted for. To date I have heard no word that anyone is unhappy with Disney's editorial interference.

This is Joss' show - it is not wildly different than what he's done before, at the pace he did it before. The difference is he is under MUCH more scrutiny than his underdog FOX days
From what we've seen so far it seems it will only spoil the location of the mandatory final battle scene. But since Thor2's plot is very basic, there isn't much to spoil regarding what happens on Earth.
If I had started Buffy with S1, I would have never watched the rest. Luckily I started with S2 and many years later saw season 1 in syndication. Shockingly different show. I don't want to say season 1 was horrible but I would have tuned out.

That said, I love the family show that is AoS. It won't be a dark dark character study. It just won't. Not. That. Show.
@IrrationaliTV : it is, however, a bit darker than I expected. Take, for example, the Coulson/Fireman scene in FZZT. As a child, the death of innocents bothered me a lot more than blood. I was afraid only bad guys would die, and mostly offscreen, but they're not taking that route.
Squishy - you can watch without having seen THOR.

I think there's lots of different strands to how people feel about the show and what they were (and are) expecting. Really, it's too broad to cover. The ratings are trending down (although it is levelling out) -- and that includes the DVR numbers -- and that's just the reality of the situation. ABC know that, and picked up more episodes. Why? Because when you launch that big, you have to find the natural audience level. The level where people realise it isn't THE AVENGERS: THE MOVIE SHOW. You find out who wants on The Boat and who doesn't. The same thing happened with Lost - that ran for 6 years on ABC.

I will say this. When I sit down to eat every meal, I don't think of the best meal I've ever tasted and compare it to that meal. Then I would miss the meal in front of me, most likely. Joss Whedon and the peeps he has worked with have produced some really stunningly dramatic moments over the years (which, side point, I don't think the best episodes are in the first season) -- and I think there's a bit of "Right. I've sat down. Is this as good as Firefly's Out of Gas?".

The real question with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is they've set up a lot of ongoing story arcs and characters - from Gravitron to Reina to Skye's parents to Coulson to Coulson and May to May's back story to... You get the picture - can they make it pay off, tie together, and mean something? For the people who don't think the show is serial enough, I just can't agree - I think it's more serial than anything out of the Whedonverse so far. I'm not comparing the serialisation to seven seasons of Buffy. I'm comparing tonights episode 8 to, say, Buffy Episode 8. "I, Robot... You, Jane". Where Willow dated a robot who used the Internet.

[ edited by gossi on 2013-11-19 20:04 ]
Definitely a witch hunt going on here. This show is not meant to be what some want it to be. They really would be better served to move on. I truly wish they would.

That would turn this board into an echo chamber. There will never be unanimity about any show on TV, even for fans. But as I think back, like others have done, I was hooked on Buffy from the moment Willow showed up in the first episode. I was hooked on Firefly when Kayleigh showed strawberries to Book, and even more when the suitcase opened up to show River. OTOH, I never made it past S3 of Angel, and I disliked DH from the get go. AoS is nothing more to me than fun; it does not get my juices flowing in delight or in anger (as DH did, though I did watch every episode since my wife liked it). Let's be sort of honest here. If you do not like it, it is not meeting your needs, whatever those needs are. If you do, it is. It does not really meet mine for a show I invest in and care about and love the characters. I do not identify with any character on this show, and that is what I need more than anything to really deeply invest.

[ edited by Dana5140 on 2013-11-19 20:10 ]
Dana, isn't this place already an echo chamber on this topic? Some keep repeating over and over why they don't like the show (with varying levels of unnecessary vitriol) and other keep repeating over and over that they do like it and don't understand the animosity. It seems like people enjoy tearing it down when they are saying the exact same thing in every single thread about the show. I think I've read the statement, "It's not really a Joss Whedon show." about 500 times by now. Echo echoooo echooooooo
Emmie, yes, The Good Wife is one of the best on TV right now... in my opinion.
Well I'm not disappointed so far... I'm getting attached to the characters, I'm excited to see where their arcs take them and every episode has moments I really enjoy.

It seems like Joss and the showrunners underestimated the necessary pace of a season's story in this day and age. That was a mistake. But all I see is set-up for the season and series arcs. This is a Whedon show about people working for a giant organisation. Of course it's going to shake up its premise. There have already been questions about SHIELD's use of power and its corporate attitude, the way it uses people and hides information. SHIELD runs its missions like a procedural. It doesn't like loose ends and it doesn't like anything out of place. It has its status quo. And the characters need an established status quo before they can break it down. And I'm sure they will.
Part of the dictionary definition of "witch hunt" is "... used to harass and undermine those with differing views." While I don't doubt that there are some "haters" out there, it sure sounds like overkill to call all the criticism a witch hunt. (It sounds like an attempt to undermine those who don't love the show.) If those who criticize the show are to embrace being "witch hunters", would it be fair to say that show supporters are like the Emperor's staff complementing the new clothes? (I would say that both descriptions would be unfair.)

Obviously, some people think the show is good the way it is.
But is what Maureen Ryan asking for really so beyond the pale?
That it makes more sense for some of the audience (who want to love the show) to leave, instead of the show trying to be a little less safe?
"Simply put, they need to let "S.H.I.E.L.D." off its leash. They need to infuse it with the character depth and streaks of weirdness that makes Marvel's best and most lasting properties work. They need to let it be goofy and unexpected and complicated and occasionally strange."

TallMichaelJ: There was a YouTube video a while ago, where the guy (as part of criticizing "The Phantom Menace") posited that how interesting a character is can be related to how well a character can be described to someone else, without using their job, their purpose in the story, or their physical appearance (including clothing). I would make the argument that within just a few episodes of their introduction, all the characters you mentioned (including Cordelia and Fred) would have much longer descriptions than AoS main cast.
irrationalTV, an echo chamber is where every one agrees with everyone else, and visit the site simply to hear what they already believe in. This is clearly, right now, not an echo chamber, since there is no unanimity of belief. Yes, some people are saying yes while others say no, but that is usually okay. The real question is, do they bring something new to the discussion (which is, frankly, why I have shied away from bringing in my longstanding comment about investing in Tara, Sara Sidle and Sophie- oops, I did just bring that in... but you get my drift).
but it now seems to be almost like a witch hunt in some places.

To be clear, that was me commenting on the sheer irrational hate that the show is generating in some places and where people are getting shouted down for liking it.

But I get the feeling that this thread does seem to be getting to the point here where posters are starting to beat each other up. So as lovely as it would be to just have the place to myself, please do cool down.
It seems like Joss and the showrunners underestimated the necessary pace of a season's story in this day and age. That was a mistake. But all I see is set-up for the season and series arcs.

Yeah, this occurred to me too. We're more spoiled for quality content now than ever before. You need to start your TV series with a bang and hook viewers right from the very first episode, otherwise they'll drift away to other things. But it seems to me like they've been using the first few episodes to play it safe, introduce the character dynamics, have procedural stories, etc., and hope viewers stick around's Marvel?

I've only seen the first 3 episodes so far because frankly, it's been a real chore to work through those. I've certainly not been hooked by the show's less-than-exciting material so far.

I wonder if there were timing issues involved, where maybe they needed to spin their wheels to some extent until Thor: The Dark World came out. And from the trailer, Captain America: The Winter Soldier looks to be very SHIELD-heavy, so I'm guessing there will be a major tie-in there.
I was underwhelmed by the first couple of episodes, but I caught up this past weekend with the remaining episodes. I think the episodes improved, but I remain lukewarm about the series to date. I think all the flaws have been covered here--I tend to fall into the group who don't find the characters very interesting--and I agree with Ryan that the "Whedonian dialogue" seems forced in the absence of "moral complexity and emotional nuance." While I think that all of us long-time fans had much higher expectations--too high--despite the slow starts of earlier Whedon series, I don't think any of those earlier shows lacked heart in the early episodes (even the early episodes of Dollhouse, which I still cannot re-watch, had an inner spark). I'm still looking for the heart here, for characters with more depth and complexity.
I like it quite a lot. I am really growing attached to the characters. Sour grapes around here stink.

ETA...sorry, the negativity seems to be contagious, which is no excuse. My bad.

[ edited by cheryl on 2013-11-20 05:11 ]
Most people wouldn't know talent these days if it spat right in their face.

This is uncalled for and unwelcome here.
This is the first Whedon-associated series that I have felt ambivalence toward. I like bits and pieces of this series at best but, sadly, it is not appointment television for me. AoS feels more like an ABC show than it does a Whedon show.

When the writers for AoS were announced I was not excited. None of the Team Whedon heavy hitters were in there. I mean no disrespect to the literal Whedon family members and others in the AoS writer's room but truthfully their inclusion did not cause me to cheer. Only inclusion of the names Espenson, Minear, Edlund or Goddard could have done that.

I sincerely hope this writer's room finds some kind of groove with the show's premise. I don't like saying "meh." after an episode of a show with Joss Whedon's name on it. I never have!

[ edited by Hjermsted on 2013-11-20 18:29 ]

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