You know how certain producers have a signature style that instantly tells you who they without even looking at the credits? Like, if you see characters deliver rapid fire, clever dialogue and the main character has just the right zinger at the ready, you know you’re watching something by Aaron Sorkin. Or, if it features a hackneyed, recycled plot about incompetent lawyers, it’s a David Kelley production. Or if you’re watching a movie that looks like it was concocted out of a hazy mixture of cocaine and barbiturates, it was produced by Oliver Stone.
Agents of SHIELD has Joss Whedon’s signature all over it. Like Sorkin, Whedon loves clever dialogue. Usually, his is a bit more humorous. Also, he can be the anti-Sorkin. Whereas, when a Sorkin character lands the perfect zinger, the target then sits there bumbly, unable to come up with a response. In the Whedonverse, the zingers often backfire, like in Serenity, when Mal, obviously not expecting Jayne to answer “yes” to his question, “Do you want to run this ship?” and then can only stammer back, “Well . . you can’t!” Another example is in The Avengers, when Thor mumbles that Loki was adopted when told his brother just murdered several people.In
Agents of SHIELD, the zingers backfire a lot. Nearly every time someone thinks they just said something clever, you can almost see Whedon’s hand reaching out of the script to slap them. It makes for some humorous moments and keeps the show light and campy, much like the early seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel before those shows took a turn for the dreary.
Whedon also repeats his tendency to recycle actors he’s worked with before. This pilot episode features appearances by Ron Glass (Firefly) and J. August Richards (Angel), so it’s probably only a matter of time before he kills Alan Tudyk again.
Oh, and if you aren’t sure if this TV series is in the same universe as The Avengers movie, there’s a reminder about every five minutes.
What I’m saying is that there’s a lot of fun to be had in this pilot, but at the same time, there are some early pilot kinks that hopefully, will be worked out in future episodes. For one thing, Skye the hacker girl switches from being an antagonist of SHIELD to joining the team a little too easily. Also, the two British scientists, who probably are or soon will be lovers, are almost interchangeable at this point in terms of their personalities. Agent Ward is pretty much a stereotypical tough guy, which means, like Firefly’s Jayne, he’ll probably continue to be the butt of many jokes. In this pilot Coulson employs a rather interesting technique when interrogating Skye. He injects Ward with truth serum and lets her question him.
The premise is promising. The agents are charged with dealing with rogue super-powered individuals or helping those who can’t control their powers. They’re kind of an X-Files team operating in the super-hero world.
My final take: Not perfect, but I see enough potential to keep watching for now.