As a middle-aged comic book fanatic, one of the most common questions I have gotten over the past few weeks is “Is ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. any good?” The problem is that I can’t really give a straight answer, mainly because I think it is unfair to judge a series by three episodes.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the show just got a fullseason pickup, which means the show has some time to iron out the kinks, and according to TVbytheNumbers, the series is doing okay in a tough Tuesday 8pm timeslot drawing around 8-million viewers a week.
So by those two accounts the show must be good right? Unfortunately, I have to qualify that with a not necessarily and the cast has a lot to with it. Clark Gregg is great as Agent Coulson (as he was in all the Marvel movies), and Ming-Na Wen brings Agent Melinda May to life with a kick-ass savagery that I like, but everyone else seems to be made of cardboard.
Don’t get me wrong, the other members of the team are textbook efficient with their roles, but both the performances and the writing needs to step up a notch (okay maybe three notches). I have to agree with The AV Club that Agent Ward is more like Riley from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” than Malcolm Reynolds from “Firefly” (I actually love that comparison), which sums up the rest of the cast as well. They are all beautiful people, but they need a bit more to do.
I like an article from Women Write About Comics that mentions that without the name-dropping and inside jokes and dialog for the comic book fans, the show would probably not be nearly as entertaining. When the Series Premiere opened with a voice over I was literally stunned, not because it was bad but because it reminded me way too much of another superhero show (that would be “Heroes.” And I think we all know how that story ends.
So is “Agents of SHIELD” any good? It has potential, but for right now the show is searching for an identity. Is it a superhero show with no superheroes? Is it a mission of the week procedural? At this point, it could go either way. Right now it is entertaining, but the characters are more annoying than endearing, and that spells trouble.