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"I'd like to test that theory."
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January 27 2014

(SPOILER) Agents of SHIELD crew open up on criticism, expectations and the rest of the season. Comic Book Resources talks about a recent set visit and the state of Agents of SHIELD.

The show has been progressively improving and I am glad that some of their plot point are beggining to connect standalone episodes. Good interview and I'm glad theyre getting to refute some of the flak that they've been taking.
Interesting read -

If/when they make an announcement around Season Two, it'll be interesting to compare/contrast the pace at which plots move along. It seems they acknowledge that the TV landscape has changed, maybe more than they planned for, and viewers demand stories rocket ahead at a Double Shot Expresso rate
I dunno, Cap; they sounded pretty defensive to me. Sort of like they were saying, sorry, our plans ran up against reality.
What does that even mean? Loads of people shouted at them online because the show wasn't what they expected and now people are criticising them for being defensive? Is that not the very epitome of fan entitlement. I know you don't like the show but you seem to keep running down in every thread about it. And it's tiring.
I think the whole team has been very classy in their public comments towards fan criticism, and they are correct that fanboys/girls are more demanding of their shows than ever. That said, yes, I agree with Cap that there have been improvements, characters have become more likeable, storylines are paying off and obviously we've got some fun coming our way with Dethlok and the further Thor tie-in. I wish people would relax and enjoy the show for what it is, not what it is not. And if you really don't enjoy it? Turn it off.
No. They are being defensive completely about the wrong thing.

None of the intelligent criticisms of the show are saying "Where's Iron Man?" They are saying "where are the interesting characters?" "Why does the show feel so cheap?" "Why are the plots so dull?" Etc. Read any actual critique of the show, not stuff on twitter or whatever.

They keep going back on the "We can't be The Avengers!" excuse, but that isn't the problem with the show. Even if I wanted a basic procedural scifi/comic book show, it's not even achieving that. They seem like they have their ears plugged to the actual legitimate criticisms. Jeph Loeb seems to think Ward is a likable or interesting character! I mean, come on!

I also call foul on them saying people are more impatient these days. No they aren't. You give us exciting, fun, interesting, compelling stand alone stories, people will love it. The problem is the show has been dull. That's it. I love shows that have stand alone stuff. I don't need the plot to move superfast. I'm a huge fan of Buffy, X-Files, Fringe, Supernatural, etc. All shows that put the plot on the backburner often and have some fun with standalones.

[ edited by Jordo on 2014-01-27 22:39 ]
No. You are getting it wrong.

Loeb is far from alone in thinking Ward is likable or interesting. There's countless of people who are very much invested in the show already. And for good reason.

Yes, I've seen many people bitching on about supposedly 'bland' (seems to be the fashionable word of the times) characters and plots. But that isn't 'intelligent criticism' at all. It's just an argument that proves that the show isn't for you and it's time for you to tune out.
There's millions of people remaining who don't share your opinion.
Exactly what Jordo said. I'm not disappointed by the lack of super heroes/marvel characters, or the slow intrigue, that's not the problem. I'm disappointed by the writing, the characters, and the lack of personality of the show. And I have a lot of respect for Jed and Maurissa but they still haven't addressed these issues. So I'm worried they're not even trying to fix it.
Personally, I'm mostly really irked by the objective manner in which people are framing their criticisms. It's seldom suggested that the show doesn't appeal to them - rather that it's "broken", and needs to be "fixed".

Meanwhile several million people across the planet are happily watching it from week to week. And I'd hazard a guess that those people are not by and large less intelligent, well educated or discerning than the people criticising - their tastes simply run along different lines.
I think the staff responded exceedingly well. It's sad that they have to explain their method in this way. I thought, at first there should be more action and less character, but Mr. Gregg stated it perfectly. If you don't care for the characters, you won't stick around for the action. Case-in-point of Mike Peterson-we care about the husband/father guy, and that should underline what we see about him hence. (At haflway-through A Season 1, this show is off to a great start...) It is good they have studio support, but I think they won't have to rely on it for long.
I would agree with the assessment that the interview doesn't really address any of the substantial criticisms of the show. Personally, I really don't care how much "Marvel" is in the show - I just want the story and characters to be compelling. And for me, so far, they are not.

I also don't think it's unfair to say that they come across as defensive. That's exactly how the interview reads to me. I don't think the criticisms of the show are unreasonable and it sometimes sounds like the team thinks we should be awed by the fact that they aren't the worst thing on TV.

As for the argument that millions of people are happy with the show, so the rest of us should shut up... the show has lost almost half of its initial viewership in the US. Although I'm happy for the cast/crew to see the numbers even out over the past couple airings, I don't think it shows much good will toward the storytelling.

Not to mention, there's no real way to assess how many of the millions are "happily watching" when at least some of them are Whedon diehards like myself who insist on giving the show a full season to find itself.
It's cool to hear them talk about their process of using stand-alone episodes to plant seeds for bigger story arcs. It's one of my favorite things about TV shows from Camp Whedon.

Earlier examples:
-In Angel's penultimate episode, several villains from various standalone episodes earlier in the final season are revealed to be members of a powerful and evil secret society.
-Dollhouse's post-apocalyptic "Epitaph" doomsday scenario is heavily foreshadowed by plot elements from previous episodes (namely remote wipes, the wealthy abusing the imprinting tech, and Rossum's general inability to keep their creations in check).
"Jeph Loeb seems to think Ward is a likable or interesting character! I mean, come on!"

It may not be a popular opinion but I think Ward is a likeable character. He wasn't at the beginning of the series but I think he is now and I enjoy his scenes more and more with each episode. The turning point for me with Ward was when he saved Simmons in FZZT.

[ edited by eddy on 2014-01-28 05:20 ]
Yeah, I don't agree with all of Jordo's points, but I do agree the producers aren't addressing the legitimate problems with the show. The "Where's Iron Man?" fan is practically a straw man. I'm sure there are some less educated individuals on the interwebs who actually made that complaint, but they are a very small subset of the viewers frustrated with the show. And throwing random C and D-list Marvel characters into the mix doesn't solve the show's real problems.

To me, the writing just feels stale. I don't expect it to be THE AVENGERS in terms of scope, but since AGENTS OF SHIELD exists in that universe, I do expect it to share that same tone, that sense of humor, and that smart dialogue. And while the show has gotten better (the most recent episode may be the first time this season I've laughed out loud more than once watching the show), it's still not close to that standard.

I mean, there are other shows on television right now that feel more like Joss Whedon's work than AGENTS OF SHIELD does. If I just came out of a 5-year coma and you asked me to watch an episode each of the following 4 shows (JUSTIFIED, SHERLOCK, ARROW and AGENTS OF SHIELD) and pick out which show was created by Joss Whedon, it would take me at least 3 guesses to choose AGENTS OF SHIELD. That to me is the main problem with the show. It doesn't feel... Whedonesque.
So I'm worried they're not even trying to fix it.

As for the argument that millions of people are happy with the show, so the rest of us should shut up... the show has lost almost half of its initial viewership in the US.

And if they 'fix' the show, they might lose the other half.

Yes, somehow there keeps being a number of people on every forum and Facebook page who somehow always feel the need to express their dissatisfaction under every news item on the show. But there's always a very large number of positive comments and posts as well. Plenty of people who like Ward, Skye, the storylines, everything. Plenty of people for whom there really is no need to 'fix' things and who may very well be turned off by such drastic changes as the people who dislike the show or its characters require.

And the criticism the show usually gets, most of the time it really doesn't go much further than generalising 'the characters are bland' or 'the writing is weak' statements. In my experience, there's hardly any substantial criticism outside of a couple of larger articles. The usual negative feedback on the show is some subjective comment without reasoning or argumentation - as vocalnick also said above, often put as if it were an objective statement.
I don't really get this;

"We had an extraordinary challenge, and something that I'm not sure enough people give us enough credit for," Loeb said. "Marvel movies have the benefit of, 'It's Iron Man. It's Hulk. It's Thor. It's Captain America.' We had the fantastic Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, a character who existed from a few of the Marvel films, and S.H.I.E.L.D., which, at best, is an amorphous government organization that, unless Samuel L. Jackson was going to come in and explain it to you every week, you were going to have to come along on the ride.'

That's not a challenge unique to AoS. It applies to almost every other TV series out there, where writers have to create brand new characters and a brand new world and keep both compelling enough to keep audiences interested. Heck, anthology shows like American Horror Story face that challenge not just in their first season but in every season after that . AoS actually has the benefit of revolving around a character who was already established in the Marvel movies and it's set in a world already built by other people, which isn't a luxury most other TV writers have. Loeb can gripe about people's expectations all he likes but this show already had a built-in fanbase before it even premiered which, again, other writers aren't afforded with.

Marvel movies had benefit of "It's Iron Man. It's Hulk. It's Thor. It's Captain America" because somebody created those characters and made them compelling. They didn't just appear out of nowhere. Your job as a writer is to make characters equally compelling and equally as loved. That is by no means an easy feat but it's something TV writers accomplish every day. It's something Joss accomplished when he created his very own pop culture icon in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, not to mention a wonderful supporting cast. Where Loeb loses me is that he expects some kind of special credit for this -- especially when the team have so many advantages that other writers do not have.

Sure, there were probably some very naive people who thought Iron Man or Thor were going to show up every episode but most people didn't expect that. And I think it's very disingenuous and, frankly, very convenient, for them to keep referring to these kinds of criticisms which are easy to scoff at and dismiss. I'm not apathetic to Sky or Ward because they're not Captain America or the Hulk, I'm apathetic to them because I think their characterization is painfully dull and mediocre. The article does acknowledge that many people have complaints about the standalone nature of the series, which is a criticism I see often, but most of the criticisms I see (and I share) have to do with the quality of the writing (cliched story lines, subpar characterization, idiot plots, predictable one-liners and jokes etc) which continues to be ignored.

Don't get me wrong, I'm aware some people are perfectly happy with the quality of the writing and like the characters. I'm just saying that it's one of the most popular critiques of the show and it's getting a little tiresome to see that ignored by Loeb ect every time the crew, supposedly, open up about the criticism of the show. Instead of attacking strawman arguments it'd be nice to see them address the main complaints people actually have.

[ edited by vampmogs on 2014-01-28 11:04 ]
I liked Ward as soon as I found out that his "truth serum interrogation" was faked. Oh well.
I sometimes wonder what is wrong with me. I like all of the main characters, I've really enjoyed 11 out of 12 episodes so far, and I find AoS a lot more whedonesque than Arrow or Sherlock, even though I enjoy them too. (Sherlock basically screams "Moffat", Arrow is way too serious, and none of them has an ensemble cast.)

I can agree with some of the criticism, and it's not my favourite Whedon show, but what I'm reading here and there makes it sound like AoS is worse than Charmed.
I think they started the show a little clunky but now it's on the right track. Nobody reasonable is expecting The Avengers but it could have more connections between episodes and even between the characters(all of which I like, except May, for some strange reason).

The show certainly doesn't look or feel cheap, it's not a budget issue, I think it needs a little more thinking outside the procedural box and some even more clever writing. I'm sure they're capable of it.
While I agree with many of the criticisms here, I think the last couple of episodes show the team is doing exactly what it needs to do to address them. Maybe they got wrong-footed a little by the rapidly changing tastes of TV audiences, but as long as the show is moving in the right direction like it is now, I'm going to put my well-worn negativity on the shelf.
I think the world, or at least the vast InterWebz, would be well served if everyone began their critiques with "In MY opinion .."
I agree, AndrewCrossett. The last few episodes have been much better, and I think the show is turning a corner.

The main fault I find with the "we don't have Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, etc." excuse is that Marvel clearly thought a show revolving around Coulson could attract an audience. If it "doesn't work" (i.e. there's no second season), is that a case of Marvel overestimating the fan enthusiasm for a Coulson-centric TV show? I don't think so. I think the fault would ultimately be with the fact that the writing has been (until the last few episodes) very generic.
The last two episodes have built significantly on the ground work laid in the first ten. All the secrets (Coulson's death, Skye's parents, Ward/May) are either advanced or out in the open. All the characters have grown in depth. You say they characters aren't as nuanced or funny as in the Avengers? Guess who wrote the Avengers, and who isn't writing this show!

I read some other TV sites and let me guarantee, there are a sizeable number of people who were expecting more superheroes, and tuned out because they weren't getting it. The readers on this site may have had the right expectations for the show, but a lot of people didn't. Most of the stand alone episodes tie back into the series or address character backgrounds. Bell and co. DO address of the legitimate problems people have raised: the show is not fast paced enough and has too many stand alone episodes. He has said the rest of the season will have more short archs, and things are already happening more quickly.

I like these characters just fine, and I'm sure there's nothing wrong with me (or with you Ragondux).
Like Boto said, even complainers (like me) agree that the show is professionally done. That isn't the issue.

@QingTing: I liked Ward's truth serum too. But that was the pilot, half a season ago.
I also thought his "seduction" of the male guard was a hoot.
But other than that... nothing very distinctive. For a "porcupine" people person, he seems to do just fine. (Squabbling with FitzSimmons doesn't count, because *every* show has tech vs. operative friction.)

@Valentijn: You asked for something specific? The show has many "Chuck" writers, and it feels more like that show than a Mutant Enemy series, in the wrong way. (In my opinion, of course.)

"Chuck" had awesome chemistry between the 3 leads, which is the biggest reason why most people liked it as much as they did. But the writing didn't help as much as it should have.

Interesting ideas were introduced, but often discarded like so much technobabble. (There should be serious consequences to the mere existence of some of those "toys".) Sci-fi and spy stories have a lot of fans who appreciate details and callbacks to previous important events. When the writers ignore that, it can give the impression that they are lazy or that they don't care about the story (even though they are working hard to make the show).

"Chuck" had great guest stars, but the villains were not distinctive beyond being menacing and "bad". Their sole existence was to be antagonists to our heroes. It never felt like they had their own lives and plans (which just happened to intersect with the protagonists).

And those "Chuck" weaknesses are what AoS feels like to me. It doesn't feel organic and self-aware and passionate (outside of the pilot). When they play Battleship on the plane, I'd like to know *why* they chose that game, and the reasons for preferring that game should be indirectly reflected in other actions the characters make. The other ME series used cliches all the time, but they would be subverted because the character's personalities produced unexpected reactions. AoS rarely does that.

(On a different note, I don't know if others feel this way, but the music on the show is unrelenting. I'd appreciate more silence at key moments. Music is more than a wall of sound. A roller coaster has ups and downs, fast and slow; it shouldn't be a constant speed in the same direction all the time.)
OneTeV - while I mostly disagree with you on the show's weaknesses (obviously, as I think it's great and they're on a roll), I appreciate your insightful post and I can mostly see where you're coming from.

However, I didn't really ask anybody to be specific to me. My point was that (in my experience) a vast majority of the negative criticism that is given to the show is found in subjective comments, devoid of substance.
Loeb and the writing staff couldn't address people screaming "the characters are bland" or "the writing is weak", certainly not when each character and each episode do work for a lot of people as well.
Besides, like chrisobrien wrote, there really have been many, many comments shouting for 'more Marvel/heroes!', which is an issue that can realistically be addressed.

I always feel like AoS is the kid who's bullied at school simply because the class needs someone to pick on and a vocal number argues that the kid has a funny accent or something...
I think it's kind of odd that bland characters, cliched/poorly thought out plots and predictable humour are considered criticisms devoid of substance.

If I was in a plane that was on a nosedive to the ground, I wouldn't have a clue how to direct the pilot to correct course, but I would certainly know that things were not going well.

We should be allowed to offer our criticisms of the show without also needing to accompany that with in-depth directions on how to make the show better. That's what Jed, Maurissa, Jeph and the other writers are getting paid to do.

Apart from that... saying that Skye, for example, is a bland character is not an empty criticism. It's a simple way to communicate that there hasn't really been anything about her characterization that makes her interesting/compelling. Right now, the writers seem to be relying on the mystery of her family to drive interest in her character. It should be the other way around.

To put a finer point on things: Imagine that you have to watch either Skye or post-season 1 Willow walk through the woods alone for 45 minutes. Which one would you rather watch?
No one is bullying a show here. Many fans of the Whedonverse are struggling with the show. There are also those fans who are enjoying it.

IMO, I'm just not as invested as I thought that I would be and I too blame the writing. Right now , I can't pinpoint it but I can compare my reactions to other new shows. I'm simply not as invested as I was with Orange is the New Black & Orphan Black at the gate. I think the bar for TV writing has risen very high with such great shows as the forementioned and the recent past shows like Breaking Bad. There are literally many great shows with amazing writing that are competing with SHIELD for my time that just were not around a few years ago. So I wonder if our playing field hasn't just changed in terms of story pace but in quality.

In addition, I can also spend time invested in shows more easily on streaming. I found S1 of Justified on Amazon and I do feel far more attached to Raylan, Boyd and Arlo then unfortunately the SHIELD team.

I just think that while there has been some unfair assessments here and amongst the professional TV reviewers, most criticisms have been fair. I do think there definitely was some defensiveness in this interview, which while natural we maybe are not used to hearing, um here. I see that kind of talk to the nth degree in Supernatural. But I am late to the verses, so maybe I missed it.

The show has had a run of past solid eps. I'm still watching and I suppose that's a good sign. I'm just not as worried that I may miss something.
The point that some who are critical of the show simply aren't taking into consideration is that this is a FAMILY show. It will never be BB, OITNB, Justified or Orphan Black which are all TV-MA and television made only for adults with very mature subject matter. AoS is a show meant to be accessible to 8 year olds and the 8 year old in all of us. This needs to be understood, digested and accepted. The stages of grief over this conscious creative decision are proving to be difficult for a few. :)
@Valentijn: Fair enough. Trying to explain why I want change. (If that change actually happened, hopefully it would enhance rather than ruin what you like about the show.) And what you mentioned just shows that not everyone can be pleased. While I want Hydra and AIM to show up, piling on more Marvel random superpower guest spots wouldn't work for me. (For example, I'm concerned how they are going to handle the appearance of later in the season.)

At least for me, "characters are bland" is something specific. It feels to me like the characters are generic, other than a handful of quirks and what the actors bring to the table. Skye is an orphan with (legitimate) abandonment issues. But other than when the plot requires her to look for her mom's history, does Skye act like it? Shouldn't there be more situations that trigger a basic emotional response from her past, even if she has learned to deal with it? Ward is also an orphan, with brother problems. I'd like more (not obviously related) "symptoms" to his personality that would be fed from this type of background. I don't know who Fitz and Simmons are, as people, other than their jobs.

I'm thinking of a "Bones" episode, where Stephen Fry's psychiatrist points out that Booth's mannerisms and the way he dresses have reasons rooted to his personality and his past. The important thing is, those mannerisms and clothing choices existed in the first season, even if the reasons weren't explained until later seasons. I don't see AoS planting those "seeds", that there is more to these characters than surface and what they are required to do for the plot.

Edit: @IrrationalTV - I would lump in TV-MA type requests with the "I want Iron Man" straw man arguments. As you point out, it is a family show.

Which is why I was utterly baffled that the show would spend time with a burning man screaming in pain, or the brain surgery machine, or the characters having sex (Ward/May, Skye/ex-boyfriend).

[ edited by OneTeV on 2014-01-28 19:47 ]
I think it's kind of odd that bland characters, cliched/poorly thought out plots and predictable humour are considered criticisms devoid of substance.

Sure, those things are perfectly valid arguments for yourself for not liking something. I might have put things to harshly, for which I apologize.
But, as I see it, comments like those could not be seen as substancial points of criticism which the writers should or even could address, especially when there's always a lot of comments saying the exact opposite as well.

I find it pretty senseless that people would state those subjective expressions - usually stated as facts - under news items, AoS facebook posts etc. I sincerely doubt that anyone involved with the show would scan those remarks and think 'Oh, people find our characters bland - we need to fix that!'.

BTW, as for your Skye/Willow example, I'm honestly thinking of going with Skye, despite liking Willow...
@OneTeV: I think they are planting seeds, but we need time to notice them. I'm sure you meant something more general than clothing choices, but it's pretty obvious that they're concious about that, just see Coulson's change of clothes when he starts doubting the system. That one is not very subtle, but I'm sure there is more.
Hi, Simon- I am actually watching the show, and I am enjoying the show, for the most part. I do not find it compelling TV, but once I accepted it for being a comic book, I enjoy it that way. So while I have offered up some criticisms in the past- because that is how I watch a lot of TV, with a critical eye that differs from most of my friends who just watch and do not look deeply in context and critique (i.e. might not notice ratio of people of color to non, men to women, depictions of non-normative relations, etc- all the things I cannot help but see), I do not feel I was being overly negative, and am sorry it appeared that way.
I have no idea whether I am part of the target audience, but I am someone who doesn't particularly care for superheroes or comics (and I never got into Dollhouse or Angel, but loved Buffy and Firefly). I had to be dragged kicking and screaming to watch Iron Man, and then really enjoyed the rest of the movies (except Hulk). I started watching AoS because a) I liked Coulson and, b) Joss. The only reason I stuck with it after the first few episodes is Joss' involvement.

I have to admit that, even with the most recent episodes, I still don't look forward to the next episode. Not like I look forward to Doctor Who, or the next Marvel movie, or Arrow (it is a good thing I like Arrow, since one of the co-creators is my buddy from high school - would make things awkward if I didn't like it). I'm still mostly watching AoS out of a sense of duty to give a Joss show the benefit of the doubt for a full season.

For me, I really want to like Skye and FitzSimmons and Ward, but Fitz(the guy? I still can't keep it straight which is which) is just plain irritating and obnoxious to me (without apparent purpose to that portrayal), and Ward has moments but makes Shatner or Keanu look brilliant. Sadly, the stories have made me much more lukewarm on Coulson. May is starting to be a little more interesting as we see the actual personality and not just The Cavalry. Skye keeps having moments of promise, but only rarely is it being delivered. I'm just not getting a chemistry in this show. Even the scenes between Coulson and May, or Skye and Ward, just don't have any warmth or genuineness to me. It *feels* like actors playing parts. And I've seen Coulson in the movies, and Ming Na in lots of things, so I know they can do well. I think the writing and directing is what is killing it for me.

If I am not the target audience, then I guess it doesn't really matter. But I got the feeling I *am* part of the target audience of Marvel trying to expand to those who don't care about comic books or superheroes but enjoyed the movies.

Anyway, just my 2 cents.
No Dana5140, you're not looking at the show any more deeply than anyone else here. And it would be wise of you would abandon that pretense. This is no different than the Buffy comic threads. You join every thread about new story developments just to complain about them at length. You bait other posters into responding emotionally to you. You're condescending in your responses. You toe the line with our rules, carefully following them to the letter, but never in spirit. It ends today. If this pattern of behavior continues, you will be banned. This is your final warning.
See, I think it's kind of odd that anyone believes that their opinion is universally accepted, and that the writers need to respond in kind.

I don't find the characters bland at all. I don't find the plots any more or less clichéd than most, and typically episodes contain enough twists to keep me entertained. I like Skye quite a bit, hell I've even come around on Ward. I'd argue my opinion is as valid as others.

Listen - I'm not putting this in my Top 5 Shows of All Timez! It's unlikely I'd ever join the Jeff Loeb fanclub. I wish there was more quirk, more humor, more Marvel. That said this fanboi rage of Apocalyptic Doom that permeates (not just WhedonLand) is in turn amusing and incredibly condescending:

"I don't like it! My friends don't like it! Therefore - no one else likes it, and anyone who (mistakenly) DOES like it clearly is not as enlighted OR has much lower standards"

So - yeah more Skye
But, as I see it, comments like those could not be seen as substancial points of criticism which the writers should or even could address, especially when there's always a lot of comments saying the exact opposite as well.

Surely making them more interesting and diverse within their group doesn't diminish their appeal to those that already enjoy them? It's not a straight line between bland to all and interesting to all. I'm one who doesn't love the show, but still watches and is enjoying that it's getting better.

The point that some who are critical of the show simply aren't taking into consideration is that this is a FAMILY show. It will never be BB, OITNB, Justified or Orphan Black which are all TV-MA and television made only for adults with very mature subject matter... The stages of grief over this conscious creative decision are proving to be difficult for a few. :)

This variation on the 'other people don't understand' meme isn't particularly helpful to promoting productive discussion. It's insulting to people who are on the fence about the show and if you could stop beating that particular drum, it might be helpful.
Huh, my list is rather adult. I think there might be some credit to the point that it is in fact a family show. I have wondered if the themes are more managed due to the combination of multiple creative enterprises working in an early time slot with a broad target audience.

Too bad my boys have lost interest. I think that they were part of that crew looking for Iron Man, despite my best efforts to educate them. It just doesn't compete in my house against My Little Pony, Minecraft and Steam offerings.
I'm on the 'more Skye and Ward' thinking. Personally I don't think the show needs fixing. Just more of it. More character stuff. The Iron Man wanting audience will disappear, but that's okay - the show needs to stand on its own. What works in Marvel movies isn't the same as what works in TV.
I do think the show needs fixing, but I think that my impression of the show's powers that be sounding a bit tone deaf on that is because they've sort of been forced to say something on those criticisms when they'd rather just do the work. The last two episodes have definitely started to show some life to them. I've always argued this was a family show, so that's not my issue, at least. I just think some of not just the art of TV but the craft of it has been lacking in the early going.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2014-01-28 21:52 ]
The shows others have mentioned (Justified, Breaking Bad, Orange is the New Black, for example) are definitely more graphic and violent in nature - however, the characters also seem to have more depth to them. Take away the violent aspect of the show, and you still have very well-developed main characters. I think SHIELD is starting to get there and I'm hoping the network gives it time.
The network will be plenty patient with it. It's a top ten show once DVRs are taken into account. It's in absolutely no danger of cancellation.
I'd like to see Skye take a big back seat. Let her be just "The Hacker" (to use Leverage descriptors), and get out of my face. She's just not charismatic, or a good enough actor to command such a large role, imo.

My Whedon group here has stopped meeting every Tuesday night to watch together. The occasional great moment is just not enough to sustain that kind of commitment. As others have said, it's just not 'Whedony' enough for me.

The really compelling characters to me are Coulson, May, and Fitz. I really couldn't care less about Ward or Simmons. And I'm also one of those viewers who doesn't give a fig about the Avengers showing up. I'm fine with them sticking to the films.
I confess I don't understand the animosity toward the actress who plays Skye. IMO, she's one of the better and more charismatic members of the cast. Any issues with her character are issues relating to the scripts, in my view.

This show seems to arouse a lot of emotional responses on both sides of the debate, especially in postings like this one. Ironically, I think both sides are ultimately animated (and in some cases maybe over-animated) by a common predicate, namely, a very strong belief in (and high expectations of) Joss's ability to tell great stories. At least that is true on this site, I think.

[ edited by Squishy on 2014-01-28 23:46 ]
I do think it's worth pointing out that this article is bound to garner more than it's fair share of vitriol due both to the misleading nature of its title (in my experience 'opening up' usually indicates the presence of some sort of catharsis-generating dialog - this is purely a response piece) and the general way in which the article's content is presented, presumably unintentionally: The people being quoted seem to be refuting criticisms that they themselves were involved in framing - which ends up coming off as making the quoted parties sound about as obnoxiously dismissive of the very concept of constructive criticism as possible...

The point that some who are critical of the show simply aren't taking into consideration is that this is a FAMILY show.

I'm going to assume that this particular some of which you speak isn't a reference to people who care about basic things like quality writing or stoytelling...
IN MY OPINION - When I hear "this is a FAMILY show," it sounds like, "oh, it doesn't have to be challenging."

ABC chose to put this into the earlier timeslot, therefore limiting the types of "adult" stories they can tell. But Iron Man 2 saw Tony come near close to an alcohol problem, and in Iron Man 3, he was suffering from pretty severe PTSD. Thor 2 included death and chaos, and Cap 2 looks grim, indeed. The movies seem to be able to balance the fun with the heavy stakes, and it's the stakes that I find non-existent in AoS.
"It's a family show" doesn't excuse poor writing, especially when Whedon co-wrote Toy Story which was targeted at an even younger audience than AoS and the script was brilliant and clever.
I still don't look forward to the next episode. Not like I look forward to Doctor Who

That's an interesting point. In my mind, Doctor Who is often badly written, and yet I love it more than AoS. People will probably hate me for saying that (remember, I love the Doctor), but I think Who appears to have clever writing because it showers you with foreshadowing, thousands of twists and then provides an intricate explanation at the end of the season. It starts a season (or an episode) by giving you a puzzle that will keep you on your toes, but that you couldn't possibly solve because it doesn't make that much sense. It is, however, addictive.

The Whovian version of Mike Peterson's arc would have had Deathlok killing Coulson in the pilot, the following season showing us how Mike became Deathlok, and then the finale explaining how it was all a trap and Deathlok was in fact Coulson-from-the-future, killing himself to avoid becoming Deathlok.

AoS, on the other hand, doesn't look like it has an intricate plot, doesn't shout "here's some foreshadowing!", yet I'm sure they have a lot of stuff planned ahead, and I like what I've seen so far. I think that's what they mean when they say it requires patience. I'm not sure, though, that it necessarily makes a better (or more successful) show.
I'm one of the ones who has struggled with the show, and I've been a comic book lover all my life (though SHIELD never interested me.) Even with the writers' pedigrees, I don't think I'd watch it without Coulson. I'm still mostly watching for him. That being said, I think that it's improving (or I'm getting used to the characters that don't interest me, like Skye and Ward.)
I see something different in Ward and Skye that those who don't care for the characters, do. At first it was obvious that Ward was the serious stiff, the protector of the team, devoid of feeling or humor. Then we get the episode with the flashback to a boy in a well and Ward, the boy at the top being threatened by an older boy. That was a pretty great psychological reveal, along with Ward in a later episode making reference to being great at self-defense as a reaction to being bullied as a child. These glimpses into why people operate as they do is what, IMO, builds a strong character. Their motivations, their weaknesses, their strengths, secrets, vulnerabilities.

With Skye, it seems as though Chloe Bennett is doing a good job of portraying a young woman who is supposed to be gauche, brash, a little awkward, and meddling at the same time. Her deep inferiority complex, feelings of not belonging anywhere, certainly feed into those qualities, which are pretty relatable to young people feeling the same way. It seems as though a healing process started in Seeds that will lead her towards being more compelling in future episodes.

I guess perception is everything, just as with the horrible storm swirling around Joss once again, being blamed with worlds' ills. It sure is easier to be a character that isn't liked.

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