11/27/2013

Why does "Agents of SHIELD" Suck So Badly?

They should subtitle the show "Marvel's First Massive Faiure"
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was my most anticipated new show of 2013. The first episode of the series blew me away, seemingly hitting every note it needed to to go toe-to-toe with Marvel's cinematic forays, which have been nothing but stellar so far. But after that initial experience, the quality of the show dropped rapidly to the point that it's just flat out terrible by now.

It pains me to say that but it's true; Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a massive disappointment to Marvel fans like me. For a moment, it looked like the show was going to turn around and get itself on the right track but after last's night's horrific episode "Repairs", I've completely lost faith. 

"I'm an uninteresting, lifeless douche
who gets way too much screen time."
One of the biggest let-downs of the show so far is a complete lack of recognizable characters. The Marvel films have done a fantastic job of dangling guest characters in front of their audience. Nick Fury in Iron Man. Hawkeye in Thor. Black Widow in Iron Man 2. Given that track record, fans rightfully expected more of the same from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. I know I personally did. I figured there wouldn't be any of the cash-cow heroes dropping in, Captain America or Iron Man, but given that it focuses on S.H.I.E.L.D., I expected a few established S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to show up. Like Dum Dum Dugan, for example. But, no. The only existing properties we've gotten were Dr. Franklin Hall, who, in the comics, becomes the villain Graviton, Victoria Hand and Jasper Sitwell. Jasper fucking Sitwell. This is what the show thinks of its audience. (No, I'm not counting the early appearances of Maria Hill and Nick Fury. That was just ridiculous sleight-of-hand used to make the audience think they gave a shit.)

Where are the characters people want to see? Bobbi Morse is a full-fledged S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. She's also an Avenger. Marvel can easily springboard her into the cinematic universe through the show.

"I'm also uninteresting and lifeless but
I'm a woman so people care about me."
Fans everywhere are clamoring for a Ms. Marvel film, hoping that Marvel has the gall to make a movie with a leading-lady instead of the boys club that they've given us to date. AoS is a way to test audience reaction to a character like Ms. Marvel by bringing her into the show as Carol Danvers. Again, she's a military woman so she'll fit right in. She doesn't even need to be a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent; she can be an Air Force liaison to S.H.I.E.L.D.

But no. We get Jasper Sitwell.

Is the lack of strong supporting characters enough for me to say the show sucks? No. It fails majorly on another level as well.

Comic books are steeped in continuity, with 50 plus years of history affecting the stories of today. Yet AoS completely lacks continuity, with each episode practically standing apart from the others. In the comic book world, the stories are written as if each comic book is someone's first. What this means is that they take the time to reintroduce characters so that a new fan can get to know who they are and what they can do. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. seems to have taken this mantra to an extreme, discarding all connection to itself and throwing away any concept of continuity and subplot.

"I died and came back from the dead but no one
will tell me 'how'. Oh, yeah. Trust the system."
Think about it. Has there been a single subplot through the season to date that has ever come to fruition? The first episode featured a link to Iron Man 3, blatantly referencing the Extremis project and hinting at a connection to A.I.M., the Advanced Idea Mechanics and the developers of Extremis. This subplot came into play four episodes later, in "Girl With The Flower Dress". It has not been touched since. There has been no additional hints at A.I.M. Or Hydra. Or any villainous organization out to dominate the world, which is what S.H.I.E.L.D. needs. They need a foil, a yin to their yang. They need Cobra Command, some sort of global organization out to enact a devious plot on the world only to get thwarted by S.H.I.E.L.D. every time. That's what S.H.I.E.L.D. is all about. Not the county-hopping shenanigans of Coulson and Co, taking down a new threat in each exotic locale they come to. This isn't S.H.I.E.L.D. It's a higher budget A-Team.

If AoS aired in the 80s, alongside the likes of The A-Team and Knight Rider, its episodic nature would fit right in. But television audiences are much more sophisticated now and want more out of their shows. They want the long-running subplots that crop up every now and then to add depth to the show and the characters. They are looking for that over-arching evil that shadows the deeds of the hero at every turn. AoS has absolutely none of that. Every hint of a possible subplot that's ever cropped up has been unceremoniously dropped in favor of the next uninteresting bad guy chase, from the threat of Extremis to Coulson looking into the events of his death and recovery.

This looks like it makes sense but it really doesn't.
Yes, I understand that the season is only 8 episodes in but audiences shouldn't have to wait this long for something of interest to occur. I've seen all of the arguments about having to "wait for the payoff" and "this is how Joss Whedon works". No, it's not. The first season of Buffy The Vampire Slayer was 12 episodes long and that had the threat of The Master running through it. And besides, none but the first of the episodes had Joss's hand in it so this cannot be attributed to him. In all honesty, I hold his brother, Jed, responsible. Joss Whedon is hailed as a god among geeks for his ability to write good characters, making them funny and interesting before unceremoniously killing them off. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the perfect example of the half-assed efforts that happen when you allow nepotism to run rampant in the workplace.

To top it off AoS also revels in its "National Security, FUCK YEAH!" attitude, a notion that doesn't sit quite right in a political environment where our country's own national security is frequently overstepping their bounds into breaching the freedoms of citizens. They've kind of scaled that back a little in more recent episodes but when it happens, it's kind of frightening.

This isn't all that's wrong with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but this is all that I can talk about before falling into a deep depression. I had high hopes for the show before it aired. Even when the quality started to wane I remained hopeful that it will hit the right stride and just barrel into awesomeness. But after the first eight-episode run with hald of that being utter garbage, that hope is pretty much gone. It whight be time for me to just pull the plug and walk away but I have to admit that it's hard. Like walking away from an abusive relationship; it's done me wrong so many times but I just can't seem to say "Enough".

Oh well. I can always fall back on Arrow. At least that's still kicking ass.

4 comments:

  1. They have an opportunity to use A and B list characters. They don't even have to use characters with flashy superpowers. Bring in Luke Cage. Bring in the Punisher. Bring in any character that anchors us back to the Marvel Universe, which has thousands of characters.

    This is what made Lois and Clark and The Flash get dull after a while. We get one guy in a costume and everyone else is...regular?

    I'd like to see them pull out all the stops and have SHIELD team up with, well, anyone with a costume.

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    Replies
    1. I would be happy with established characters NOT in costumes. There's the entire line-up of SHIELD agents in the comics that they just completely disregard. Sure, we got Hand and Sitwell, but what about the others?

      Hell, even using third-tier characters in the show would be preferable to the new characters they're giving us. The episode with Scorch could have easily integrated any of the fire controlling characters from the comics but instead, they introduced a new one. It's just unbelievable at this point how they're disregarding an entire universe of established comics and missing the chance to leverage them properly.

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  2. Can you please explain to me and the rest of the viewing audience why this show is so bad that it sucks? Each week the episode gets worse from the week before. Who writes this crap or a better question might be who directs it? In really doesn't matter one of them or both should be fired. Doing a program on S.H.I.E.L.D. I thought the show would focus more on them facing/battling H.Y.D.R.A. and A.I.M. all the while introducing other characters of the Marvel Universe such as Power Man or Iron Fist. I also thought the show would introduce characters from B-List, C-List or possibly D-List. A S.H.I.E.L.D. movie explaining each character and their purpose to the viewing audience would have tied the first five movies together. Unfortunately Iron Man 2 was mediocre, Iron Man 3 was terrible and please don't get me started on Thor 2. Why was there not an Ant Man movie made along with the first five movies? Is it not the idea to broaden your fan base or capture a bigger audience? In conclusion my opinion is save yourself a trip to the drugstore just watch this program and you'll be asleep in no time.

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  3. It sucked really hard from the very beginning. It was simply unwatchable.

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