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December 09 2013

(SPOILER) Agents of SHIELD EP says upcoming episodes are "more in the Marvel direction". Jeffrey Bell speaks to Comic Book Resources about this week's episode, the 22 episode arc and what the show is doing well. ETA: Another interview with Jeff about Agents of SHIELD can be found over at ComicVine.

I'm growing a bit weary of that defensive thing creators do wherein they in effect wave away criticism as just "haters". There are some pretty legitimate criticisms to be made about AoS' execution (in addition to some pretty legitimate defenses of the show). I don't need creators to go out of their way to engage with criticism, but it doesn't make for a very healthy culture to just keep lumping everything in with haters.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2013-12-09 23:37 ]
When anonymous people are shouting at you, it's hard to hear the quiet voices offering constructive criticism.
I really enjoy the description of the show being more "Marvel" from this point on. It Is what I want, but at the same time I am someone who gives a show many opportunities to improve, often too long. AoS has improved and earned my time sooner than I expected. I never thought it was bad, but I didn't feel a spark until recently. I think the show is just like cookie dough...

Seriously though more Marvel, sign me up.
Interesting lament by Jeffrey, to be inferred, on how easy those cable guys have it with their dinky little 13 episode seasons.

As to the "haters" - IMO 95% of most interwebz criticism falls into the "this show is stoopid" category and is worthy of dismissal. As he points out, it's the creative team's job to tune out much of that noise and deliver on the vision in their head. If it turns out the vision doesn't warrant an audience, that's fine - but you'll drive yourself crazy trying to create based on the knee jerk fandom reaction of the moment, which is often contradictory anyway. More heroes! No heroes! More fun! More dark!

The show is what it is - it'll get better I believe (and I enjoy it now) but even then it's never going to be what some people want/need it to be, and I think the between the lines here is Jeff saying .... "deal with it"
I know exactly what he's saying about haters. Go to SHIELD's facebook page and read some of the comments...they tend to be rather minimal in substance and, well, spelling/grammar. I've seen good legitimate criticism around here, and less out in the broader ocean of the web. This interview is a nice defense of what they're doing right, although he doesn't really address anything he thinks they could be doing better.
I know I'm repeating myself but I like it. I watch it, I enjoy it, I look forward to it.
I wasn't obsessed with Buffy by this point in its first year, and had already given up on Dollhouse and yes, Firefly.
Not to be a total killjoy, but I think that the inherent limitations of the "stretching a feature-length film over a 22 hour-long episode run" school of television production were put on display (quite admirably, I might add) not all that long ago...
Eh, going by that interview it seems like they feel most people's complaints have to do with the lack of a seasonal arc. I think that is the very least of the problems with this show.
Huh, I remember people loving Sarah Connor Chronicles in the event they actually watched it, and didn't it have the problem of the writer's strike so it wasn't actually that long anyway?

That said, it seemed like a lot of shows were shifting to that new model of splitting seasons for fall/winter and that way they get to have shorter mini-arcs and ideally the sort of promotion and sustained attention of promoting a run of episodes rather than risking losing people by coming back every two or three weeks.

Then again yeah, as a viewer I guess I have been lulled into a sense of comfort watching other shows cull the fat and tell largely consistent tone/stories in just 6-13 episodes. It was 2004 since the last Whedon show to have a full 22 episode season?
I wasn't obsessed with Buffy by this point in its first year, and had already given up on Dollhouse and yes, Firefly.

Don't worry, so had Fox.
I find this a very encouraging article. We are being told that we are getting pay-off for all the set up work done earlier in the season. We will get more cliffhangers and serial storytelling (which people have been asking for). The stories will get more Marvel focused (which people have been asking for). Skye and Ward didn't hook up (which people were dreading). It sounds like the plan all along, was to have a slow burn for the first part of the season, then kick it up a notch by the half way point. I'm counting the hours until air-time tonight, and can't wait for January!
I am finding myself liking the British (6-8 episode season arcs) and the Canadian (13-episode arcs) more and more appealing. Things move along, there is no filler and the planning is more tight and concise. AoS is sort of stretching things, and essentially they are telling us it took them 10 episodes to get to the interesting stuff. In the words of the famous Archie Bell (of the Drells), "Tighten up!" :-)
I'm somewhat with Dana, although Joss spoiled us with plenty of consistently high-quality 22-ish episode seasons. It can be done, but it ain't easy. I wouldn't mind more series going to a 12-15 episode model, gives the writers and the budget more breathing room.
Whenever I hear people complaining there's no story arc I can't help but think to words. Bad Wolf.

[ edited by Beth on 2013-12-10 19:44 ]
Stopped reading the article when it became clear they feel any criticism is just from "haters" and irrelevant.

As for his "oh 22 episodes is hard, so suck it up. People with short seasons have it way to good." What a joke. On one hand that must be a pretty shitty two year plan (if they actually have one, and on the other network TV shows are able to negotiate for a lower episode count. Hannibal,for example,is 13 episodes a season despite being on NBC.
Cool it on the bashing.
I personally feel that TallMichaelD has nailed it quite ably on this one; I'm reminded of what I've seen happen in post-show discussion even just here on Whedonesque alone - it's one of these things where someone will make a comment, say, that the show "should make more Marvel shout-outs and include more movie references" - then literally just a handful of comments down the exact same page and discussion, someone else says with equal vehemence that the show "should make less shout-outs", etc. One post says something, another post equally says something else, how could anyone keep that straight or know what to listen to, and what to ignore? Talk of vexatious!....

TV shows, showrunners, writers et al, should never, *never* rely on what the fandom, etc., may claim to want to see in the show or what they think should change - because that seems to change literally from one week to the next. So if there's no cohesiveness or consistency whatsoever in said fan opinion, much less even what's seen or remarked upon here, say, in context of post-show discussion threads - then the writers and showrunners should *never* try to incorporate those opinions into the show itself, and they'd darn well go crazy even entertaining the notion of trying!

Fans of a thing should *never* get to dictate the course of a thing, because that way always lies madness, and certainly, I feel, a severely sub-par product in any event. As with "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.", so too with other shows like "the Walking Dead", say - where one season, one story arc or episode to another, some folks are raging, "more zombies!" - then the show gievs a whole slew of zombies, then it's - "less zombies now and more character development!" - and then the show gives that, and the exact same people are on about something else entirely....and on and on ad nauseam it goes, to where I feel that a show's writers, creators and runners could seriously get whiplash from trying to keep it all really, they shouldn't even bother. They don't need that grief, and I feel Jeff Bell is entirely right on this one!

I say this as very much an ardent, passionate and devoted fan of - well, of both shows obviously, but of course, being as this is Whedonesque, and all, of AoS here specifically. :) I'm a fan and I love it but I know I don't have the right to even try to dictate the creative course of the show, much less to demand that it do something, or not do something, etc., etc. As a fan only, I can't even begin to fathom the story and character arcs they're having to keep straight and gardually, carefully unfold - none of us can. That's why *they* write and produce, create and run the show, and why *we* don't. ;)
Well said lyria--if showrunners do nothing but listen to their internet critics, well, they'll probably just curl up in the corner and start sucking their thumbs. Assess changes you might need to be made in the off season, then get back to work on your own terms.
Yes, lyria. Exactly. There is no fan or critic consensus on whether the show is good or bad and what it needs more or less of. None whatsoever no matter what someone might say on the interwebs. :)

I can't wait to see how the obvious set-up (misinterpreted by ever so many) they have been delivering pays off.
lyria, in reality fans dictate the course of shows almost every time they are on. Without going into a tired old raisin of an argument, once a show is on TV, if it does not take its viewers into account it does not survive. It needs people to watch; it is commerce. In the interview here, Jeffrey Bell admits as much in his comments, but you have to read between the lines of him noting that there will be more Marvel and that questions are going to begin to get answered. That is directly a response to fan comments. Also, keep mindful that at the beginning of a show, they may have major themes mapped out, but the specifics are not; those come as new episodes are developed, and much of what happens may change as forces begin to operate, such as critical comments (ie, from TV critics), ratings and so on appear.

There should be little surprise that there is a lack of consensus over the show. There are 6 million people watching; that is a lot of opinions, and those who take the time to post generally do so either out of love or hate.
It shouldnít take 10 episodes before you can start telling a more interesting story. That's 10 weeks of dragging this thing out because a 22 episode format is too challenging for them.

But I'm with Kaan. There are many other problems I have with AoS and the major one is that I find the writing very underwhelming and the characters very cookie cutter. Unless thereís a change in the writerís room I donít see that changing anytime soon so Iím afraid I just canít muster much excitement for this miracle tenth episode. Itís been 10 weeks and I still couldnít care a less about the characters and I donít think the series has had anything interesting to say. I've given it more than a fair chance but I'm bowing out now. I might catch up with the rest of the season when it ends if people who I respect tell me that it got a lot better.

And, yes, "haters" was an unfortunate choice of words for Bell to use. It comes across as very dismissive.
Huh, I remember people loving Sarah Connor Chronicles in the event they actually watched it[...]

I was one of those singular souls who watched it religiously, and no - there were more than a few of us who watched it despite its flaws.
[...]and didn't it have the problem of the writer's strike so it wasn't actually that long anyway?

Not season 2 (which is when the weaknesses in their pacing model really came to light.)

Yes, lyria. Exactly. There is no fan or critic consensus on whether the show is good or bad and what it needs more or less of. None whatsoever no matter what someone might say on the interwebs. :)

I believe that there actually is a majority (ie. not unanimous) consensus in the MAoS critcism out there - if you care to read between the lines: Whatever S.H.I.E.L.D is as a storytelling device, it just needs to be that - whatever that is - more strongly.

When a show is receiving oodles of lukewarm praise mixed in with wild-y differing opinions - from the avid fan types - on what should or shouldn't be done in the future in order to "improve" things, these are actually all symptoms of that show suffering from a single, very specific and fundamental ailment - lack of artistic clarity. One of the things that all well-done shows have in common is that they readily telegraph - to you, the viewer - what it is they are.

You can agree or disagree with that message (whatever it may be) but the most important part is that it gives you something to which you can react. In my own personal experience if a show can manage to do that in its first three episodes then you know that it 'has it made' so to speak. some examples of shows that did this (for me) that come to mind - Arrow (by the middle of the first episode), Person of Interest (the last scene of episode three), Firefly the tam's facing the abyss of space in (episode three.) S.H.I.E.L.D... while it is supplying me with enough wacky fun to keep me going as a viewer, it's still keeping me guessing in other ways (that don't feel good.)
While I didn't fully dig the phrasing Jeffrey Bell used, there is some truth to the fact that show-runners have to take feedback with a pinch of salt when working on a product; looking at feedback and seeing lots of requests for more Marvel characters and references has to be balanced with knowing their show is about the unpowered Joe and Jane Normals who have to have to clean up or live with superhero-supervillain shenanigans every day...juggling reveals in certain mysteries against story schedules characters time to breathe and explore their dimensions or playing a long game. However, ignoring fan wants or giving in to easily lies the way to complete loss of support since no one will be happy enough to stick around except maybe those demading the applied changes.

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