Welcome to Pilot Perception, our feature in which we break down the first episode of each new show in order to help you decide whether it’s worth your time.
The Pedigree: S.H.I.E.L.D. comes from Marvel and Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy), who executive produces with Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen (Dollhouse), Jeffrey Bell (Angel), and Jeph Loeb (Heroes). The pilot was written by the Whedons and Tancharoen and directed by Joss Whedon.
The Cast & How You Know Them: The show stars Clark Gregg (The Avengers, The West Wing), Ming-Na Wen (ER, Eureka), Brett Dalton (Killing Lincoln), Chloe Bennet (Nashville), Iain De Caestecker (The Fades), and Elizabeth Henstridge (The Thompsons).
The Premise: The show follows Agent Phil Coulson (from The Avengers) as he assembles a S.H.I.E.L.D. team of agents to investigate weird happenings and protect humanity.
What Doesn’t: This was a very flashy pilot, which makes it fun to watch but also makes it harder to guess what later episodes will be like, since the scale will almost necessarily need to be reduced due to budget and time constraints. Anything this ambitious could either go very right or very wrong. There’s also a fine line to walk between throwing in enough references to other Marvel properties to make fans happy and doing so much of that that the show seems like a pastiche that never really stands on its own. It’s natural for there to be lots of callbacks and exposition in the pilot, as everything gets established, and hopefully that will be toned down just a bit going forward. That contributed to my general feeling that the writing felt like a jigsaw – while there were lots of good one-liners, the various bits didn’t always fit together terribly well.
Our Favorite Line: “With great power comes . . . a ton of weird crap that you are not prepared to deal with.”
You Might Like This if you like . . . oh, come on. Everyone knows what this is. But yes, if you like The Avengers and other recent Marvel movies, and/or Joss Whedon’s previous TV shows, this will probably be right up your alley.
(Photo courtesy of ABC.)