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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
"You people are so petty... and tiny."
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December 14 2013

How I learned to stop worrying and love Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. An interesting look at why some people aren't enjoying the show so much.

I don't necessarily hate this show, it just seems like it's behind the times. The writing, directing and acting seems like something straight out of the 90s, early 00s. I think I was expecting something awesome like Firefly and instead got something, else. But, really that's what ABC is. I can't name one well-written, produced, and directed show on ABC. I believe Cable TV has spoiled me with great shows like Deadwood, House of Cards, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad and more. I probably shouldn't expect that from network tv, but after Firefly, I was certainly expecting that from a Joss Whedon show. Sadly, Joss isn't running this show and for lack of a better phrase, it shows.
On par with Firefly?!?!?!?!

Everyone's entitled to their opinions and all, but no, no, no, a quad zillion times no.

I do feel the show has improved over the last few episodes. Gradually.

But Firefly? By all the gods new and old and those who've been forgotten and those who are yet to

P.S. Thanks to the op for including the "some people" qualifier. There are definitely different reasons why different people have disliked it.
I didn't feel that Firefly was awesome when it came out. I didn't know anyone at the time who felt it was awesome. I talked to my roommate, friends, people I worked with (I worked at a video game company, we were *all* the target audience), but everyone had some issues with it. Some thought the retro clothing was hokey, some had trouble with the premise, pretty much everyone thought that speaking Chinese was just annoying. There were things they liked, but there were also things they didn't like.

In the first season of Angel, there were problems, too. People hated the episode "She" in a way that I haven't seen for any episode of SHIELD. The character of Kate was interesting, but felt a little forced. They killed Doyle! Boo!

The first year of Buffy wasn't awesome, either. The first few episodes dragged. The Master was a generic villain. Do I even have to mention Xander's romance with his praying mantis teacher?

For every one of these shows, I enjoy them more looking at reruns than I did when they were new. Now that I know where they are going, they don't seem to drag and the character relationships are more interesting in retrospect. The things that annoyed me, like riding horses in the future, fly by me while I enjoy the good stuff just as much.

It's easier to remember the stuff we liked than the stuff that was 'meh'. Horrible is easy to remember, but 'meh' fades. So we should keep in mind that SHIELD may not be perfect, but the shows we loved weren't perfect either.
Maybe "some people" should stop trying to make excuses for the show because "some people" have the right to not like the show. Maybe "some people" don't like the show - not because of some half-baked psychological reasons (embrace the characters!) - but because it's just not that good.

Roughly on par with Firefly?
I'm not even going to dignify that with a response. The article lost all credibility.

Better than Dollhouse?
I'm not the biggest fan of Dollhouse and the first five episodes were "roughly on par" with SHIELD but then we got "Man on the Street", "Needs" and "Spy in the House of Love". So... no.

Better than Buffy?
I realize I have more fondness for Buffy Season One than most. But... SMG was great from the beginning, the Scoobies were way more interesting than the Agents of SHIELD, the episode "Angel" was better than anything SHIELD has done by a very wide margin and, most of all, the dialogue: the Whedon imitation and real thing - not even in the same league.

I never watched "Angel" (I know, sorry) so I will not comment on that.

[ edited by Ricardo L. on 2013-12-14 12:29 ]
If he feels that it's on par with Firefly, then that's his experience. He doesn't lose any credibility for saying that, even if he's in the minority. I think it's a little unfair to say that his opinion is worthless just because he likes the show that much.

He's not trying to say that everyone has to like SHIELD. He's saying that some people are hurting their own experience by expecting the wrong things from it. That's certainly not true for everyone, but I think it is true for some people.

For my 2 cents, "Man on the Street", "Needs" and "Spy in the House of Love" didn't hit me like they did other Whedon fans. It took about 20 episodes for Dollhouse to get where I wanted it to be. So I respect your opinion that Season 1 of Dollhouse was good, but personally I like SHIELD better.
The trouble with Firefly being thebestshowever, is that any criticism of it is viewed in some places as defiance of God in church. For me, there was a lot of filler in a small amount of episodes that was saved by good lines and likeable characters. Here's how I would label the episodes.

Decidedly Mediocre Episodes We Like to Pretend Didn't Happen - The Train Job, Shindig, Safe and Heart of Gold
The Average Episodes No One Ever Talks About - Bushwhacked, Ariel, Trash and War Stories
Fan Favourites - Our Mrs Reynolds, Jaynestown, The Message
Really Good Episodes - Serenity and Out of Gas
One of the Best hours of TV Ever - Objects in Space
@Simon - and I don't like Objects in Space. It's a personal thing.

AoS isn't Buffy. No wisecracking cheerleaders are going to show up with a stake. It isn't Firefly - though it wouldn't surprise me terribly if Coulson's little team do end up 'the loyal opposition' to Big SHIELD. There may be elements borrowed from Dollhouse; but I doubt we're going to have an episode with Skye and Simmons working in a brothel.

It is, however, a show where the producers do seem to know where they're going. The reality is that AoS is the second most popular show in its slot and the most popular with adult males aged 18-34. The producers are doing something right.

By the time The Bridge had ended, I found that I liked Skye; her real hurt at Agent May's dismissal had tipped the balance. She's now a character I have sympathy for. It took ten episodes to develop her enough to get there, but I got there. Like I said; I think they know where they're going.
What!? How dare you deny the awesomeness that was Trash! "Yosafbridge" alone made that my favorite episode!

Simon, clearly one of us has to die now.
I haven't seen episode 10 yet, but so far I've really liked SHIELD. Not being a big Marvel fan, I've enjoyed the show far more than I had expected so far.

I prefer it over Dollhouse (never became a fan of that show), but I don't think the first episodes of SHIELD have been as great as those of Buffy, Angel and Firefly.

I'd label most of the Firefly episodes differently than Simon. I loved Shindig, it's the first episode I really liked and thus the one that made me fall in love with the show. And I was blown away by all of the episodes from "Out of Gas" to "The Message". My ranking would be:
- Not great, but with sparks of brilliance: "The Train Job", "Bushwhacked", "Safe"
- Great: "Serenity", "Our Mrs. Reynolds", "Jaynestown", "Heart of Gold"
- Favorites: "Shindig", "Out of Gas", "Ariel", "War Stories", "Trash", "The Message", "Objects in Space"

@bluesqueak I really hope Coulson's team does not end up as the "loyal opposition' to Big SHIELD", I stopped watching Dollhouse when that happened. As David Brin has argued very eloquently in this essay, I think that plots that suggest that individuals are good while institutions are bad and that "Only the clever bravado of a solitary hero (or at most a small team) will make a difference in resolving the grand crisis at hand" is lazy storytelling/cliched, stupid/overly simplistic and generally just a bad idea.
I think one problem is that the pilot *was* written by Joss Whedon. A show can change significantly from the pilot, but that episode should hint at what the show wants to be. At least for me, the parts that I found most interesting in the pilot have been largely ignored by the following episodes.

The writer likes the humanity and the characterization. Which I'll disagree with, because one of my criticisms of the show is the lack of characterization and how they usually act like cliches, less often like people.

@Simon: I think half those Firefly episodes should be moved up a category, especially Ariel and War Stories up with Out of Gas, so we'll have to agree to disagree.

@Jason_M_Bryant: I'll disagree with the Master being a generic villain. In fact, that's part of what go me interested in Buffy. For a centuries old monster, he seemed more like a real person: frustrated at his impotence, bored of his cave, snarky ("oh, the witty banter part of the fight"), nasty sense of humor ("you've got something in your eye"). Anytime that he did cliched bad guy stuff, the writers would immediately follow it with something self-aware. (Kind of like Coulson mentioning the burned out light bulb in the AoS pilot). He's one of my favorite Buffy villains, and I'm glad that he is the only one to kill Buffy (twice!).
Jason, I actually feel the urge to challenge Simon to a duel to defend Shindig's honor. But if he's still alive after, you could take a stab at him.

But seriously, though there are several episodes on Simon's list I feel differently about, I do have to agree that there are a few episodes that I'm ambivalent about as well. Also I totally get where he's coming from, about criticizing Firefly is seen here and many other places as heresy.

That said, the show is definitely one of my all time favorites.

[ edited by PaperSpock on 2013-12-14 14:34 ]
It seems like people want to like this show far more than they actually do. I mean, what kind of defence is it when the best thing you can say about the series is that, well, hey, other shows were worse so that’s something, right? Oh goodie [/sarcasm]

Not that I agree with them mind you. BtVS S1 might have had some idiotic plots (prey mantis lady) but at least they were memorable. I honestly couldn't even tell you what happened in nearly any of the past 10 episodes of AoS. And the dialogue and characters in BtVS S1 just blows AoS out of the water. There's simply no comparison.

The same is just as true of AtS, Dollhouse and Firefly. I don't even care about Firefly all that much and I still can't believe anybody would say that AoS has had a better first season thus far. These characters are so generic and thinly drawn in comparison to the characterisation of Serenity's crew and there's not an episode that even came close to Out of Gas or Objects in Space.

It's pretty depressing seeing people try to readjust their expectations of this show just so they can convince themselves that they like it. Believe me, I understand the disappointment as I was really hoping to love AoS like I did Whedon's past shows but I'm just not going to make excuses for it. The two most common defences of this show are "You were expecting too much! It was always only supposed to be mindless fun so you need to stop expecting it to be anything more than that" and "Well, other shows had crappy first seasons too so it's unfair to criticise AoS" Rarely have I seen anyone try and defend this show on the merits of its writing and the few that have don't elaborate on why they consider it smartly-written. I think it’s all pretty telling about the quality of the series.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2013-12-14 14:43 ]
I'm hoping there's a joke in the future about the ham-fisted, cheesy dialogue that'll make me appreciate the cliché movie lines and situations of this first half-season. Legitimately, it would show me some great necessary self-awareness.
That's funny, vampmogs. I feel like people want to not like the show more than they actually do.

I also feel that way about Doctor Who fandom. "Russell T Davies is so horrible! I can't wait for Moffat to replace him!" is quickly followed by, "Steven Moffat is ruining Doctor Who! I hate him so much!"
I agree with vampmogs that bashing pointing out the flaws of other shows is not the way to defend SHIELD and that Buffy, Angel and Firefly beat the show were it really counts, e.g. the dialogue and the characters (I also greatly prefer the mythologies of the Buffyverse and Firefly for their unique blends of diverse influences and embrace of silliness over the Marvel universe worldbuilding stuff in SHIELD).

I do like SHIELD for its fresh, Sorkinesque, portrayal of idealists in a position were we would not expect to see them (i.e. a secretive intelligence organization) and the sympathetic characters (although they aren't yet as memorable as those on previous Whedon shows).

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2013-12-14 16:00 ]
That's funny, vampmogs. I feel like people want to not like the show more than they actually do.

Well, I can only speak for myself but trust me when I say I certainly never wanted to not like this show. Far from it. I have been pretty bored by TV lately and I had high hopes that I'd finally be passionate about a TV series again once a new Whedon show came out. Not only did that not happen but out of almost all the new fall shows that I have seen I would consider AoS the worst.

I never would have expected that but it’s the truth. The only reason I stuck with it as long as I did because Whedon's name was attached to it otherwise I would have stopped bothering with it weeks ago. It actually astounds me just how poor I think this series is and I can’t quite believe it comes from people who worked on shows like BtVS, AtS, Dollhouse and Alias etc.
We're not bashing other shows. We're saying that SHIELD has imperfections, but it's in good company in that regard.

People seem to forget that we've had this conversation about previous shows. We were even still having it about Dollhouse after "Man on the Street". The second season of the show started with people saying, "The episodes aren't serialized? I thought we were past stand alone episodes!"

I swear, ten years from now we're going to be on this message board reading comments like, "Cabin in the Woods: The Series just doesn't grab me the way that SHIELD did. That show was awesome!"
Dollhouse was the weakest Joss Whedon show because it had the most network interference. AoS isn't struggling with incomprehending suits - the incomprehending suits are running the show! It just has Whedon's name on it and some of his younger relatives on staff. I don't think AoS should even be featured on Whedonesque. It's not whedonesque.
Bunnies, if Whedonesque didn't feature anything that Joss himself hadn't worked on, then 95% of its posts wouldn't qualify.

The other day there was a post about a bad movie that Tony Head was in years ago. SHIELD is clearly more whedonesque than that.
@Jason_M_Bryant, you're absolutely right, that "bashing other shows" comment was hastily written and not entirely accurate. Your description - "saying that SHIELD has imperfections, but it's in good company in that regard" - indeed is much more precise and fair. Still, I think vampmogs suggestion might have its merits, i.e. that focusing on what SHIELD gets right, rather than pointing out the flaws of other beloved shows, might be more fun and productive.

[ edited by the Groosalugg on 2013-12-14 15:26 ]
Huh, Bunnies? Jed, Mo, the writers, none of them are suits. They are trying to keep the ship afloat from all the many, many different parties. Significantly more parties involved than Dollhouse, I would imagine. More money, more eyes, more stakes.
It's pretty depressing seeing people try to readjust their expectations of this show just so they can convince themselves that they like it.

I don't think anyone is trying to fool themselves that they like it. The show does have its own fanbase now. Fans like it. They live and breath the characters. What is interesting is that there seems to be a substantial element of the fanbase that is not tied to the existing Whedonverse fanbase and they're about half my age.

Bunnies, if you have issues with the site then email us. I'd rather not have a debate about what should and shouldn't be posted here.
@Simon: I think Bunnies was exaggerating to make a point. There is a difference between "should even be" compared to "should be". (But maybe Bunnies really meant it? In which case, never mind.)

I'm wondering how much of the fan base overlaps with the former "Chuck" fan base. When I realized how many of the writers came from that show, it is not surprising to me that AoS feels more like "Chuck" than a Mutant Enemy show.
I'll say it again... this is a Joss Whedon show only in that he helped create the premise and the characters and wrote and directed the pilot. Then he said, "Well, I'm off to make a movie with a budget bigger than NATO's. Good luck." The writers, apart from the showrunners, are people who have never worked with Joss, and the stuff they write is therefore not going to sound like what we've come to expect from a Whedon show.

I think the show is slowly paddling in the right direction and has a lot of potential, but I still have to say in all honesty that it's no better than average.

It's true that Buffy, Angel and Dollhouse didn't reach their best right out of the gate, but there was still something about the dialogue and the characters and the premises that made me stick around. Even the weakest episodes of those shows would produce lines that would show up in people's sigs the following week. So far in AoS we've had precious little of that and more of stuff like "He's standing right behind me, isn't he?" and "I won't let you down, sir."

I guess it's because AoS is the first Whedon-produced show that can't afford to be a cult show, inspiring intense love in a relatively small group of viewers. It has to appeal to the kinds of broad audiences that watch procedurals and reality shows, not to people who cosplay at conventions.

So, when people say that they love the show unreservedly, I nod my head and remind myself that most people don't share my taste in TV. If they did, Buffy and Angel would have been as successful as Big Bang Theory and NCIS.
For all those (here and in the wider world) who are disappointed because AoS isn't living up to your expectations, a question: is that disappointment the responsibility of the show and its producers/writers/actors/etc.? Perhaps, maybe, just possibly, it's your expectations that need to be reworked.
"Don't discuss it for a week" - as evidenced by this topic being posted, like that's going to happen. It's fine not to like this show but it is not fine to lob grenades in the form of malicious gender blaming such as Pajiba revealed in an article a few days ago and other unfounded accusations and criticisms I've seen on the Net.

That said, I finally saw the last episode in its entirety at the ABC website and really enjoyed it - all the elements of greatness are there. The scene (and yes, I hope that Mike is going remain SHIELD's own hero) with Simmons deliberately carrying out manual measurements of Mike with a tape measure was so endearing and reflective of how the audience was probably responding as well to Mike's (J. August's) not only overwhelming physicality but his sweetness in response to her crushing on him, just as many have crushed on Thor in the films, was really effective and well done. Movie-star cachet achieved.
Given Jed and Maurissa's involvement, I choose to be outraged that this show isn't more like Spartacus. Where's the stylized gore and salacious sex? Where are the decapitations? Couldn't Skye just casually walk around the bus topless every so often? Or how about Coulson earnestly addressing his agents for their next mission in full frontal nudity. When the plane is going down, I want to hear Melinda May blurt out, "Jupiter's cock!" The fact none of these things are happening means the show is horrible.

We all follow names or we probably wouldn't be here, but I think the point of the article is that beyond the jump-off point, you have to let the show just be what it is instead of forcing it into a box of expectations because of the names attached to it. I wholeheartedly agree. I really don't feel the need to compare or contrast with Buffy, Angel, Firefly or Dollhouse. This is something separate and different. Like it or not on its own merits. And if you're really not liking it ten episodes in, maybe it's time to stop agonizing about it and just cut bait.
All I can say is that I was in love with Buffy from moment that Willow first appeared. I never liked Angel at all, loved Firefly and loathed Dollhouse- which at least showed I cared enough to loath it. AoS I simply have almost no interest in; it does not move me at all. It seems banal to me so far, largely because the characters do not engage me. Maybe since they chose Skye as the representing the viewer, and I happen to be a 60yo guy.

But I hate when they trot out the "give people what they need, not what they want" argument. That's arrogant; no one knows what I need except me, and even then that may be subconscious. It's just an easy way to try to win an argument, especially since the author says next that we need to take a break for a week...
The character stuff of SHIELD is definitely starting to work, I'd say, but the dialogue hasn't been that snappy (someone above said "Sorkinesque" -- true in the context of that comment, not at all true about the writing), and what's really lost me is the fact that Ward didn't seem to notice a cement mixer in his line of fire when he set up for his coverage. That seems... amateur.

However. I'm recalling an interesting comment I heard here in the black about Buffy S6 -- about how those who watched it live were more likely to feel it was terrible, whereas those who watched it on DVD were more likely to think it was pretty solid. The bad stuff was more quickly wiped away by newer and better memories, and the seasonal structure was more obvious. So I'm beginning to think I will wait until the season is over, then rent the DVD set and watch 'em all at once. At least that way if one feels sour I can just move right along. And I do want to know what happens to Coulson.

If I get too impatient for that, I'll wait until Hulu has built up a backlog of several eps I haven't seen, and then take an evening and mini-binge.
"On par with Firefly" - a tragic case of space dementia, if ever I saw one.
@tomg For all those (here and in the wider world) who are disappointed because AoS isn't living up to your expectations, a question: is that disappointment the responsibility of the show and its producers/writers/actors/etc.? Perhaps, maybe, just possibly, it's your expectations that need to be reworked.

This is exactly the kind of argument I'm talking about. The only expectations I had going into this show was that it would be smartly written and you're saying that I need to rework my expectations? Why on earth for? It’s a perfectly fair expectation to have and one many other shows are living up to. Give me one good reason why I should lower my expectations just so I like AoS more when I don’t need to do that with a bunch of other shows?
Vampmogs, I think there's an artificial reality bubble that says network television is supposed to be a bit rubbish because that's what sells advertising to the masses. Dan Harmon reckons that Nielsen ratings will remain relevant until the last dinosaur exec is dead, although arguably we're approaching the tipping point. It certainly seems backwards and cowardly to not attempt to make quality television at this point.
Wow. I can't imagine how *anyone* who is an acknowledged, avowed, eager and open fan of the show (and yes indeed I am, and unreservedly so and I will not "apologize" for that fact, nor feel that I have anything *to* "apologize" for, to that end), would feel in *any* way, shape or form at all comfortable in coming here to try to make their voice heard and to say as much....when there is clearly an evident tenor of deriding and dismissing such a take on the show, and generally more than implying that there is somehow something wrong with those of us who do love it, who are fans of it - who don't have a problem at all with it - and gladly so.

Might it come as a shock to people to learn that in point of fact, me loving the show, enjoying it, finding it hugely compelling and riveting, and loving all the characters and everything on it - is "not" some case of "space dementia", or "lowered expectations", or even "convincing myself that I like it"? (VERY insulting attitude, and I expected better from fellow Whedon fans, to be frank....I thought my fellow Whedonverse-ers were far *better* than the likes of copping a haughty, dismissive, nose-in-the-air, I-know-better-than-*you* attitude such as that)

I love the show and am a fan of it *because I love the show and am a fan of it*, and because for me it's ruddy well awesome and fantastic and, yes, *perfect* just exactly as it is, and has been. This does *not* in any way lessen the importance or relevance of my opinion, to this end, nor does it mean that it somehow gives anyone else standpoint from which to deride and dismiss my take on things - implying that those who are fans, and love the show just as it is, are "wrong" or "don't know any better", or on and on it goes.

I've had to deal with such attitude in other fandoms before, and found it divisive, rancorous and poisonously negative. It can even go so far as to make one not want to be so actively involved in a fandom, when taken to its unfortunate nadir. The contempt and the dismissal in it is *beyond* galling, and it truly disappoints me to see it happening here too.

It's hard indeed for fans of the show, such as myself, to ably and effectively make themselves heard here - when, well, just look at the tenor of certain comments above to see just what happens, and how our liking the show is dismissed or treated with contempt and disdain, when we *do* try. Shouted down, and *worse*.

I would, however, like to thank Simon for stating above that there is a very big problem with treating a show such as "Firefly" as "zomg the best thing ever!!"....and, thus, that for any who do question that, or who happen to like something else over and above "Firefly", is tantamouunt to heresy in the eyes of some. Yes, I personally *do* happen to like and vastly enjoy "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." *far* and away over and above "Firefly", which never compelled nor captivated me (particularly when, again, my own personal preference, Whedon-project-wise, was for BTVS and "Angel", and of course now "Avengers", AoS and so forth!).

But then, I have *never* used said preferences or deride or dismiss someone else's opinion, or treat them as in any way lesser or unworthy of regard or equal standing. Plainly put, I *never* imply that there is something wrong with anyone who doesn't share my opinion, my feeling. Maybe that's something which others should be considering as well, as it relates to the above matters, yes....?
So, I finally caught up with all the episodes aired and I have to admit, while it's still not my cup of tea, after adjusting my expectations downward, I can watch and enjoy. I've been knitting while I watch, and it's kind of perfect for that.

It's more like Chuck -- a fun, action-y show with some cute comedic elements and vivid characters -- than any previous Whedon show. None of the actions have emotional weight nor are any of the relationships particularly complex or interesting, but it's kind of fun and breezy.

The biggest saving grave for me is the duo of Fitz and Simmons. I am getting very fond of those two nerds. I joked to my friend that they need to fall in love, get together, then Simmons gets horribly killed and her body inhabited by an ancient evil while Fitz goes super dark and tortured! That would improve the show like crazy.
Well said, lyria. I happen to enjoy Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well. It doesn't bother me that other people don't. But reading comments with an insulting connotation very much does. I'm very sorry to hear you feel anything less than welcome here.
@vampmogs: perhaps, perhaps your expectations of what measures up to "smart writing" need adjustment... this is offered slightly tongue-in-cheek. I think that "smart writing" differs for a major broadcast network versus a minor one like the CW (or even Fox) versus a cable-only net. I think the writing demands are different for a Tuesday night versus a Friday night. I think it matters that there is a pre-existing universe (Marvel's, not Whedon's) and a pre-existing fan base (same distinction) that is being targeted. I think it matters that the movies are targeted at a PG-13 audience. And I think it matters that the TV show fills a very specific niche: within that larger universe with its much larger-than-life characters and events, AoS is focused on the humans in the background, the unnamed extras who people the scene in the movies. To my knowledge, that niche has never been explored on TV, so I'm willing to relax and let the storytellers tell the story that they want to tell; so far, I've found it entertaining, if not particularly complex or emotionally fraught (but then, I never got much of an emotional charge out of comic book characters or situations, so maybe that just reflects my own lowered set of expectations going in). If it stops being entertaining, then I'll stop watching, quietly and on my own.
I don't think I had to lower my expectations so much as just adjust them. As a long time fan of Joss Whedon, I do have an expectation of how something he has a hand will be. Mostly the dialog. Dollhouse, although not my favorite show in execution, has some of the best exchanges of all his shows in my opinion. I adore the way he played with language on Firefly. But he isn't writing this one. And I have no idea if the writers on this show, other than Jed and Maurissa, are people that have worked on his other stuff. But the dialog seems more straightforward as are the challenges the agents are facing. Bad guy does something. They investigate. Confront the bad guy. Stuff. They prevail, usually. I'm ok with that, now that I know what I'm going to see when I tune in. Instead of what I might have been expecting I get what I'm looking forward too... Coulson being dry and May being awesome. And any day now Ward will realize he loves Simmons and Fitz will unveil his freakish ninja skills.
I like AoS. I just don't love it--at least not yet--and I guess I was hoping for love at first sight.

Buffy and Firefly were both love at first sight, for me, because the characters were people I loved right away (Buffy, Willow, Giles, Mal, Kaylee, Wash and his dinosaurs). By the end of the first episodes, I adored those shows. Because of the characters. (I loved the writing, too.)

Angel was more of a slow build, for me. I think I really fell in love with the show during the Pylea episodes at the end of season 2--which was also when I fell in love with Wesley (who's very high on my list of favorite Whedon characters, ever).

And then there's Dollhouse, which was fascinating in concept and a mess in execution. I never loved it quite the way I loved the others, but I found the ideas behind the show fascinating--and it got steadily better, after those first few episodes. I was hooked by the time Epitaph One happened, and thought season 2 had some fantastic moments.

Agents of Shield doesn't really remind me of any of those shows, though. I haven't fallen for the characters, and I'm not particularly intrigued by the ideas/setting. In fact, the show it reminds me of is Fringe (which obviously is not a Whedon show--but it's the one I keep thinking of when watching SHIELD). I quit watching Fringe around the second episode--I thought it was weird and disturbing and the lead actor was kind of wooden and I didn't care about any of the characters. But I happened to revisit it later, on a whim. The first season was pretty uneven, IMO. It was episodic. Weird shit happened, people investigated, the stakes were not always clear. But the first season finale was *amazing*--and for seasons two and three, it was by far my favorite thing on network TV. (And somewhere in there, I fell in love with Olivia, too.)

Anyway, my point is, some shows win my heart instantly. Some take time. Some take a whole season, or more. Given the Whedon track record, I'm willing to give AoS some time. Sure, maybe Joss isn't the day-to-day show-runner, but he's still involved. And a lot of my favorite Dollhouse moments came from Jed and Mo, so I have a lot of faith in them, too. I was hoping to love this show instantly, and guess what? that hasn't happened. But I like it. And if there's even a chance that it will give me something as amazing as season 2 of Fringe, or Wesley's arc on Angel, or that crazy, twisted, unpredictable second season of Dollhouse, I'm willing to give it at least a full season to get me there.
So if you hate the show you are stupid.

And if you like the show you are stupid.

Internet = stupid?
tomg, it's obvious that the show can't tackle subjects and themes that it could on a cable network. It's obvious that as a 'family friendly' show that it couldn't go to some of the dark places explored in Whedon's past works. But that's as much allowance as I'll allow it. Joss co-wrote Disney's Toy Story and the characters were actually far more likable and memorable than anyone in AoS. The writing was far stronger too. And that's very much a kid's movie but the writers didn't use that as an excuse to settle for mediocrity.

The time slot and network are really just no excuse for what's, IMO, some very mediocre writing. After all, a part of Whedon's legacy is a little teen WB show called Buffy the Vampire Slayer that nobody expected to be as ground breaking or original as it was, much less be taken seriously.

But at this point I feel like I'm repeating myself so I'll bow out. As I said in another thread, I've chosen to stop watching the show and will wait until the end of the season to hear if other like-minded people felt it majorly proved. I'm not counting on it, to be honest, because I feel the show needs a complete overhaul that I just can't see happening, but only then will I give it another chance.
I watched firefly as it aired and loved every minute of it. The only episodes that I don't count among my favorite hours of TV are Our Mrs. Reynolds, Trash, & Hearts of Gold, though they're all very much part of the "every minute" that I love. The show isn't everyone's cup of tea. I'm down with that.

I'm an unabashed fan of AoS. I'm head-over-heels for Fitz. I find Simmons to be a whole lot of awkward fun. Fitz-Simmons is one of my favorite platonic relationships currently on the small screen. I want to know more about Ward and May. Ward's performance in the pilot with the "truth serum" was hilarious, as was his impression of Simmons's impression of him. He seems to have a great sense of humor in general, though he's too conscious of the stakes with this new, largely untried team to really unleash it. I love a tortured, damaged hero, as I perceive May to be, and I look forward to watching her back-story be drawn out of her by her teammates, drop by bitter, resistant drop. I found Ward and May's relationship to be unexpected but credible, and it is fraught with danger, which I love. I've been a Coulson fan since his second or third scene in Ironman. I do think that they've made his mystery tedious more than intriguing just through ham-handedness, and they aren't helping themselves by making so much of it in their marketing. Skye certainly gets on my nerves, but so do a lot of real people. The only thing I find particularly unbelievable about her is that they'd let her join the team the way they did, but since they clearly have some ulterior motive for bringing her in, it's not so unbelievable to me after all.

I haven't yet found it particularly thought-provoking, but I don't need everything to be All Quiet on the Western Front. Sometimes I just want to read the Hobbit. I look forward to the show every week, maybe not the way I did with other Whedon shows in their heydays, but as much as I did through a lot of Dollhouse. I find it fun. Obviously, some of you disagree. I also like football, Latyrx, black olives, Star Wars, Ani DiFranco, Star Trek (even the Abrams!verse), Dumas, norteño music, soccer, swing, mushrooms, algebra, Deine Lakainen, Alexander Siddig, headbanging, Wagner, and asparagus. Please feel free to disagree with any or all of that, too, though I'd rather nobody try to snobsplain why I'm wrong or what my rationale is.
I disagree about Buffy and Angel. I watched the latter from the beginning and went back and watched earlier Buffy after I came in later, but I think they're both much better shows from the beginning. I didn't like Dollhouse because it made me angry, and now I like Dollhouse because it made me angry. SHIELD mostly makes me 'meh' but it's improving. But if we're discussing network shows - I prefer Dracula and Blacklist this season to SHIELD.

I do very much enjoy Coulson.
I've found a metaphor for why I'm complaining so much about this show. (Obviously, this is my metaphor, so YMMV.)

For the M*A*S*H series, there was an episode called "A Holy Mess". The B-story was how they always had powdered eggs, which were marginally palatable and definitely monotonous. One day, they get a crate of fresh eggs from a grateful farmer. Everyone starts putting in their orders to the cook, who eventually gets fed up and says he is only going to make scrambled eggs.

Now there is nothing wrong with scrambled eggs, and made with fresh eggs is automatically a step up from powdered. And there are some people who would prefer them that way instead of over-easy, over-hard, poached, etc. And if someone normally eats cereal, scrambled eggs might be a novelty. And the cook would have been insane to attempt to do every single order he was given.

But those of us who are tired of the majority of TV out there, were excited to hear the Mutant Enemy was going to be telling stories inspired by Marvel Comics with an interesting cast (with Joss setting up the blueprint in the pilot), it feels like instead of getting something fresh and different we are being given the usual. (And for some, that the cooks are making bland scrambled eggs out of special ingredients.)

[ edited by OneTeV on 2013-12-15 17:22 ]
I see a lot of people saying AoS is a bad show and has terrible writing and horrible characters and honestly sometimes I wonder what planet they're on. I kind of look at it like some people want "Doctor Who" and some people want "Torchwood."

Both those those shows were/are great. Torchwood is basically everything Doctor Who (being a show aimed at children) is not allowed to be. Torchwood takes the same universe and throws in all the blood and guts and sex and violence and bad language that they can't air in Doctor Who and you know what, that's fine and there's clearly a market for that, but that's not what all of us want. Some of us enjoy "Doctor Who" more. Some of us don't want to go to those dark places week after week after week. Some of us would rather have something a bit more fun, something that is thought provoking yet leaves you with a sense of hope and the impression that there just might be some goodness in the world.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is never going to be "Torchwood" and if you're looking for those dark, violent negative emotions then I think it's best you tune out now. It's never what S.H.I.E.L.D. was going to be. S.H.I.E.L.D. has always been (like Doctor Who) aimed at a family-friendly audience, that's what we were promised from the beginning so if you approached this show hoping for "Torchwood" then that's what someone said above, a matter of you forcing your mistaken preconceptions of what the show should have been to what it was actually going to be. Don't get me wrong, Doctor Who can go to dark places too and we've already seen hints of S.H.I.E.L.D. going there, but it's not going to be a major theme of every episode, the focus will always be on the heroes (Coulson's team) making things right in the world and we don't need all the blood and guts and violence and profanity to do that.

I've seen so many people say the characters are bland, but I just don't see it. Ward gets the most criticism yet I think he's one of the most complex and atypical characters in the show, people for whatever reason just can't or don't want to see it. I think some people are so blinded by their preconceptions that they can't see any of the good things that are in front of them. People say there are no Marvel references yet they're all over the place, people say there's no "big bad" yet they've been seeding little pieces of the "big bad" puzzle into the show from the beginning (and yes! some of us DID see this before this week's episode) and there's endless complaining that there's no story arc when, again, there's obvious signs of three ongoing story arcs that may or may not end up all being part of one huge big climax. I see people complain about the one liners like "He's standing right behind me isn't he?" but you know what? The delivery still made me laugh and just because something has been done before doesn't mean it's not still funny! There are also plenty other hilarious moments but people would rather complain about the ones they don't like than notice the ones that are actually pretty darn funny (...three embarrassing sentences ago...)

I'm with those that love this show, is it perfect? No. But no show is (well, except maybe Firefly ... almost) and I get so darn frustrated with those that demand it's not good TV unless it's exactly the sort of show they enjoy. There are millions of us out there who are actually enjoying this show and you know what? We're entitled to enjoy it and recognize it for being a fantastic and good quality show. None of you has the right to tell us we're wrong about that just because it's not the style of show that fits into your personal tastes.
Interesting thread here. There are a lot of comments I read as almost defensive in stating their love for the show. And an equal number who are describing the problems they have with it. And this is all of a kind, since those who like it, like it, and those who do not, do not, and neither need to say anything at all about why. But I do need to note that the original article was one that described the problems the author had, and how he came to see the show stand on its own merits. So the whole point of this thread seems to be to discuss those problems and whether or not each one of us can let our problems go enough to enjoy the show.

lyria, I've read your comment several times, and it is not clear to me if the thrust of your comment is to take issue with the people here who are criticizing the show, or to take issue with the author of the article, who apparently loved Firefly so much. But no matter how many times I read all the comments I do not see anyone taking issue with anyone else's love or lack of for AoS. I do see a lot of criticism (and I mean this in the "critical comment" sense of the word, not in the "negative comment" sense of the word).

For me, I have had to come to Aos from a different perspective. I do not love the show, I think it has some problems, but I have not missed an episode. I just have lowered my expectations so that I can let all the problems that would normally take me out of the show go by the wayside enough that I can enjoy this as pure escapism and nothing more. That there are so many differences ought not surprise anyone. There have been shows, such as In Treatment S1, where I went to bed at night so worried about a character (i.e. Sophie) that I worried about her until the next week's episode, and whose final episode was so transcendent that to this day I break into tears when I see it. AoS does nothing like that for me, and that is perfectly fine. For those who love it, enjoy it to the hilt! What others think about it is of no moment to your enjoyment.
Dana5140: Maybe since they chose Skye as the representing the viewer, and I happen to be a 60yo guy.

I don't really get this, Dana - who, then, was your entry point for Buffy? Based on your past comments, I would have sworn that would have been a younger & female character...
Buffy and Skye may both be young and female but that is where any similarity ends.
I see a lot of people saying AoS is a bad show and has terrible writing and horrible characters and honestly sometimes I wonder what planet they're on.

Hmm... so do I (since I can't even find them - at least not here on whedonesque .) Sure - I've seen a small minority who seem to think that way (probably around the same number of people I've seen who seem to think that it's the greatest thing ever) but it seems like the worst most people can say about it is how inoffensively mediocre it is.

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2013-12-16 06:21 ]
To preface the following comments and feelings/opinions/musings, I want to note that I'm really liking Agents of SHIELD so far, though I can see where other critics and commenters are having issues. Plus, I've loved shows that were downright silly or inane or absurd due to the humour or actors and actress used for the main roles. And I've also been completely against shows that everyone else I knew and critics loved but I struggled to understand the importance.

That said, it is interesting to see all the comments from critics and forum posters about the show, positive and negative, on the Web. Like other instances where I've been in lurve with a program but others just can't see the same thing I do, there are questions of "is there something wrong with my intellect/humour/tastes?" (possibly, but things like personal taste are subjective) or "have I entered into things with too low an expectation to ensure that if I don't like it, odds are higher it is truly dreck and will be shunned?" (again, possibly but I've tried watching popular programming on Big Four network TV and cable channels that have made me want to cry in despair or proclaim disgust at humanity's collective lack of taste) or "am I the wrong target market?" (higher odds of possibility than the other questions, since modern entertainment allows for very small niches to get their day in the sun when it comes to programs being made about certain topics and scenarios).

Part of me wonders if one of the core issues with some Whedon fans not being fans of MAoS is the subject matter, and the fact that Joss, Jed, Mo, Jeff Bell and the others behind the show are doing something almost "anti-Whedon" in nature: telling the stories from the perspective of the powers of authority that the main casts of Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Dollhouse generally ended up railing against and the current lack of real moral debate over what SHIELD does to protect humanity and/or by what methods that protection is enacted. Skye, for better or worse, is meant to be the voice of criticism as someone who's learned enough about SHIELD activities to question their actions but, until she joined Coulson's team, not have a full picture of some of the threats SHIELD has stopped where dirty tricks and complete secrecy is in order. In order words, the other side of the coin that Whedon & Co. have played previously...and the side that other shows have done before. That the cliche-busting isn't coming hard enough or fast enough to be worthy of being "Whedonesque."
baxter: Buffy and Skye may both be young and female but that is where any similarity ends.

I imagine you understand this, baxter, but in case not & just to be clear: I'm not comparing AoS to Buffy, nor do I see any need to... I was simply referring to Dana5140's implication in his remark which I quoted that Skye's youth & gender were factors in his being unable to relate to her as an emotional entry-point into AoS.

If you weren't responding to my comment in your remark, ignore this... it just immediately followed my comment, and seemed to relate to it.
I think the difference between people's expectations and the reality of the show is, they expected it to be a Joss Whedon show and he's not the show runner, or overseeing the show running. This is not in any way a knock on "Agents of SHIELD." I love "Masters of Sex" and it's got nothing to do with Joss Whedon. I love "Game of Thrones" and it's got nothing to do with Joss Whedon (except for the episode Jane Espenson wrote). However, if I'd gone into either of these expecting a Joss Whedon show, I'm sure I'd still love them just as much, but they wouldn't be what I'd expected.
As I understand it, Joss is heavily involved in the show. More so than perhaps he was for some seasons of his other shows.

At the end of the day, Agents of SHIELD is a Joss Whedon family friendly procedural show. We knew this going in. If it's not for some, fair enough. Ten episodes have aired and the majority will have made their minds up as to whether they like or dislike it and not much is going to change that.

I don't think we need any more debates as to whether the show is great/bad and how it compares to shows of old. The debates are going nowhere and people are getting put off from talking about the characters and arcs. So expect to see stricter modding in that respect. And if you want to vent about the show, I would humbly invite you to do it elsewhere.

We are, after all, a fan site not a slam site.
quotergal, that's a good question. I know that I was hooked on Buffy from the moment Willow showed up. I think my point of identification with her- and she was not the main character on Buffy I did identify with (Tara was)- is that she was similar to me in high school- geeky, a bit on the out group, etc. But also, I am much older now, so it is much harder for me to identify with a character whose main known identity is based on being a hacker, a young lady, and an orphan looking for information. Also, in the end, how we identify is, in my opinion, more based on subconscious factors than on the overt- as I have noted in the past, my three main characters I have come to really care about are Sophie (In Treatment), Sara Sidle of CSI (though not so much of late, since she and Gil Grissom are no longer coupled), and Tara with Willow. So, why all woman, all younger than me? Who knows? But Skye does not move me.
Basically, what Simon said. I think for a lot of people it's an expectations thing. I've said before, I think a lot of Whedon fans were there from an early age and grew up over the years, and now watch shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, and went in expecting that level of serial dark cable show. Ultimately: it's a broadcast show owned by two major studios which are both owned by Disney, targetting families. As for Joss not being involved - he is. Right back to the earliest Buffy DVD commentaries and interviews, Joss talked about his desire to "grandfather" TV shows -- come in, direct the pilot, go to movies, look after/in from afar. This is that. He co-created the show and characters, sold the rough 5 year arc, put together the 2 season plan, gets every breakdown, gets every script.

All you have to do is look at Twitter during an airing, search for #AgentsofSHIELD, and see there's a new generation of people -- mostly teenagers -- who love the show. Critically, on Metacritic (which counts reviews) it's the best reviewed Whedon show pilot since Buffy - yes, better than Firefly - and on the Agents of SHIELD Facebook group if you visit from mobile you can rate the show - it has a 5 out of 5 ratings from fans. That page has added almost a million people in the few months it has been airing. The most popular city for fans is "Bangkok, Krung Thep", and 18-24 is the biggest age group. Basically, it's international, it's young, it's an action spy show. Not everybody is going to like it - that's okay, that's the joy/terror of having a fan base if you're a story teller.
I like it. I like super hero shows. Buffy was essentially a super hero show, with humor, teen drama, and horror thrown in. I expected to like AOS, not just because it was Joss but because it was the Avengers.
I loved Buffy, was meh on Firefly, and hated Dollhouse. Whedon is excellent at what he does but if he makes a show that isn't my kind of show I will probably not like it.
If he started show running CSI I still wouldn't watch it.
But I like this, and I don't set the DVR for much nowadays.
There are links even between CSI and the Whedon world. David Fury was long involved in CSI.

Though I would worry if Joss got involved since it would likely mean either Sarah Sidle or Morgan Brody would die... :-)
I suspect I'm not the only person who has an internal voice telling them, "If you don't like this show, if you stop watching it, you're betraying Joss and you're a traitor to The Fandom."

Which is kind of silly, but... the voice is there nevertheless.

[ edited by AndrewCrossett on 2013-12-16 17:20 ]
You're not betraying Joss or anyone else by not watching a show you don't like. Life's too short and there's too much other tv out there you could be watching instead. I happen to like the show but if I didn't by now then I wouldn't keep watching it and I wouldn't feel bad about it.
I like it well enough to stick with it for now, but... so far it's more "might-as-well-see TV" than "must-see TV."
My DVR is set to record AoS, and so far, I’ve made it through maybe the first four or five episodes. I thought the pilot was fun, and the parts I liked best seemed like trademark Whedon: Coulson coming out of the shadows, the Fitz/Simmons tease intro (we’re expecting one character and instead get two), Ward’s truth serum silliness. I watched the pilot just once, and I remember most of it. The other episodes are almost gone from my mind. I could not begin to tell you anything about them.

Unique among TV creations credited to Joss, AoS feels the most distinctly product-y. It feels like a show meant to play well with a specific demographic or market, to attract advertisers, to synergize with other products in a portfolio. Yes, Buffy, Firefly, Angel, and Dollhouse were all products, too, every bit as subject to the cold imperatives of Business (the suits, if you will). But they didn’t seem like products. I had the sense—perhaps entirely false—that Joss would have wanted to make those shows even if no one was paying him. They were stories that this incredibly talented man wanted to get out, and tell in his own way. Still products, of course, but products made with love and artistic purpose. And because of that, and the considerable talents of his actors and crew, they were generally far more interesting and thoughtful than they needed to be.
I get that, AndrewCrossett. Once Upon A Time is my "might as well." Every now and then it does something really great, but mostly it's just ok. It's on Sunday nights, when I'm folding laundry anyway.
I feel that way about OUaT, too. Rumplestiltskin/Mr. Gold is really what's keeping me watching that show. Robert Carlyle rocks.
Did I miss something? The writer cites a key moment in "Bridge" of "May revealing affection for Ward and being rebuked". I thought it was just the other way around.
For me, that confrontation scene post-warehouse fight has May going for semi-cliched "I didn't need you being self-sacrificial!" rebuke due to thinking that Ward's got feelings for her and he was getting stupid, Ward turning it around by arguing strategy ("I know the score about keeping business and pleasure mixed. You're the faster fighter and had a better chance of exploiting a weakness, so I went decoy and gave you the opening") and May's left wrong-footed because something like her ego or past history clouded things as to reading the signals Ward would be giving off.
Sign me up for the OUaT Robert Carlyle love list! He is the main reason I watch the show.

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