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March 05 2014

Great Forbes review on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. A writer at Forbes says what a lot of us have been thinking.

The idea that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could have pulled this off from the beginning is a fantasy. Had the series come out of the gate with nothing but major universe tie-ins, the series would have tanked before episode two because it would have said to the viewing public “we’re only going for hardcore fans of the MCU right now.”

Because we all know that the prototypical mainstream, non-hardcore MCU fans would sooo not be interested in seeing or hearing about major universe tie-ins and the like - aka exactly the kind of stuff that, logic suggests, they would be most likely to already know of and/or care about...

I think someone's a bit confused here, and I'm fairly certain it isn't moi.
I did not demand of SHIELD that it make me feel as though Winghead, Shellhead, and Goldilocks were just around the corner. But I did want the organization in the TV show to feel more like the one I saw in the movies. And I was hoping for more interesting characters and better writing. So far it's felt like Joss-by-the-numbers. That's just one person's opinion, of course.
Good point, brinderwalt.
*shrug*

I thought the writer meant that in order to have a great structure, you needed a solid foundation, metaphorically speaking. If the show had been all "look, here's iron man", and "there goes thor" in the first couple of episodes, would we have really cared if Skye was shot last episode?
Brinderwalt I think it mainly meant you didn't have to have seen all the movies in order to understand what was going on.
The point he is making is that the hardcore fanbase, while it may be very vocal is in fact also quite small. The show had to bring in people that were not actually fans of Marvel or the movies. The show needed watchers, not necessarily Marvel fans.

If the hardcore fans had gotten what they wanted, other people would probably have a hard time following the show.

Sorry if this is confusing or upsetting. It is in no way meant to be. I do not think the writer is confused. He only makes a valid point.
By the way, I hope things cool down in Ukraine soon. Too bad there is no real Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to send in on a diplomatic mission. Coulson: "I need you to cool down, Mr. Putin." Skye [whispering to Fitz]: "Coulson told him to cool down." Chuckles.
I think this is dead on - for long term success the show needed to build the ensemble so that THEY became the reason to watch, not because an A-List Marvel was due to show up that week. I think for early ratings those cameos may have worked, but over time event programming has a limited shelf life.

I think to an extent the show gets renewed and becomes more closely tied to the MCU they will have "earned" their keep on the merits of the show.
I agree that they couldn't bring out superheroes every week in the first few episodes, but I do think the pace could have been sped up a little bit. Having a vague hint about Agent Coulson's death every other episode was a little weak. It didn't really advance the plot at all the third time he showed doubt about what had happened.

Shows like Burn Notice and White Collar have done this very well. They'll have a self contained story every episode, but they'll also have a B plot that takes 5 minutes of each episode. That B plot tells a continuing story. If Coulson's and Skye's stories had had a few more twists, a few more minutes of focus each episode to give their stories a little more meat on the bone, I think it would have helped those early episodes.
IMO, this:
for long term success the show needed to build the ensemble so that THEY became the reason to watch, not because an A-List Marvel was due to show up that week.

isn't mutually exclusive with this:
The idea that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could have pulled this off from the beginning is a fantasy. Had the series come out of the gate with nothing but major universe tie-ins, the series would have tanked before episode two because it would have said to the viewing public “we’re only going for hardcore fans of the MCU right now.”


I agree wholeheartedly with the writer that SHIELD needed to build its world, but I don't see how it couldn't do that while introducing Marvel characters. Fans seemed very excited to see Victoria Hand. The majority did not, contrary to certain opinions, want or expect RDJ or Iron Man. The show didn't need major universe tie-ins, but it certainly could have benefited from having some recognizable comic book characters.

[ edited by the ninja report on 2014-03-05 16:29 ]
I'm in the midst of re-watching Veronica Mars right now and I really think its first season struck a perfect balance between Mystery of the Week and the overall season arc. Obviously, the ratings don't agree with me. But from a personal satisfaction perspective, that's how I'd love to see AoS handle its arcs. And of course, the characters on Veronica Mars are drawn incredibly well.
I think this is dead on - for long term success the show needed to build the ensemble so that THEY became the reason to watch.


I agree.
Unfortunately, I'm among the substantial fraction of viewers that believe that the show has mostly failed to do so successfully.
I agree that this article doesn't really make sense. To say they needed to "world-build" before they got to the "fun" part implies that world-building cannot be fun. Lots of great shows disprove that premise. Nor do I see why world-building precludes MCU tie-ins, if that's what people want, particularly when you're talking about minor characters like Deathlok and Victoria Hand.

Fortunately, the article is right about one thing. The show does seem like it's getting more "fun." I haven't seen the most recent episode, but the one where Skye got shot was pretty cool.
I found the latest episode very frustrating. "Cryptic" in and of itself isn't interesting, especially when it has no follow-through.

Also, we already knew SPOILER that Skye was "special," and now she has some weird substance in her. We know absolutely nothing about either of those mysteries. Cryptic nonsense.
Arrow was compelling from the beginning when the main guy was just a vigilante who murdered rich badguys. AoS's problem is simply bad writing. I have no interest in comics or superheroes and wouldn't recognise any 'known' characters besides Batman, but I know good television.
Bunnies, I agree. From the beginning of the show, you had characters from the comics appearing and it offered something for every kind of fan. If you were really into the mythology, you got to see how characters translated on screen. If you didn't know anything about it, you would still get compelling characters like Slade Wilson and it doesn't detract from your enjoyment if you don't know his entire history.
I liked the latest episode very much(and not just, as a friend suggested, because Skye was unconscious). Arrow does nothing for me - and I do like comic books.
Arrow had a continuing larger plot that was clearly unfolding, even in the beginning. In the first six episodes we had all the questions about how he was going to survive on the island, what had transformed him into a fighting machine, and why his father wanted him to right some unnamed wrong. It had a bad guy of the week every episode, but it also had a stronger arch in the first few episodes.
I love Arrow. I think Arrow did a better job at introducing its world than AoS did. But I also think that Arrow started out as a much more intimate story, which made it easier to introduce its world.

I have also unabashedly loved AoS from the beginning. I enjoyed the characters from the get-go, only finding May a little wooden (though it was obviously set up, and I have no problem with that). There were some badly written details along the way, but I don't think the stories and characters were poorly (or even mediocrely) written, in general. I've delighted in watching all of the little threads from each episode come together with huge implications for the future...

Basically, I've seen the show moving in the right direction from the beginning. I've loved most of the characters from the first episode. I haven't come away from a single episode without being able to say (at the very least) "that was fun!" And I can wait to see what happens next.

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