Over the past few years it has been impossible to go to the cinema without bumping into a superhero as they fight a great evil seemingly oblivious to the fact that dozens of other superheroes are having very similar issues just around the corner. The worlds coexisted but remained very much apart until last year when Samuel L. Jackson, under the guise of SHIELD agent Nick Fury, united a group of superchaps and called them The Avengers. Jackson had been popping up in the superhero films for years and was consistently overshadowed by another SHIELD agent played by relatively unknown actor Clark Gregg. Gregg’s role in proceedings got bigger and bigger before climaxing in The Avengers with his death. Now Gregg’s Agent Coulson is heading up the Agents of SHIELD TV series and is very much alive and well thanks to a mystery resuscitation by executive producer/big boss Joss Whedon.
In the first episode of the series we see Coulson return to work after the events of Marvel’s Avengers Assemble and assemble a crack team to help him hunt down and manage new superheroes and unusual phenomenon. The team he assembles is pretty, peppy, and overwhelmingly brunette. Everyone talks with the standard witty Whedonesque dialogue we have come to know and love through Buffy, Angel, and Firefly (I am pretending Dollhouse never happened) which gives the show a lot more humour than you might expect and makes the whole affair that bit more enjoyable. Fans of either Marvel films or Whedon’s canon will see a few familiar faces apiece to help them settle in with the newbies.
I hit superhero fatigue last year and failed to watch Iron Man 3 in April but thankfully SHIELD is Lycra free and focusses more on the team than anyone who can fly. Their first mission is to track down a man who was seen saving a woman from a burning building, investigate an explosion, and put an end to a mysterious group called Rising Tide. In the course of the episode we are treated to lots of fun gadgets, impressive explosions, and effects that lean towards the cinematic rather than the televisual.
It seems the show will follow the format of having a weekly problem to solve while exploring an overarching big bad and slowly revealing the mystery of just why Coulson is so chatty for a dead man. On the whole I found the episode a lot of fun, and will be watching the rest of the series for more than just my undying allegiance to Joss Whedon, but it wasn’t hugely gripping and isn’t the sort of show I will be cancelling my plans to watch nor compare theories with co-workers about.
It is quite telling that I can’t remember a single non-Coulson character’s name, and the plot of the episode itself isn’t what will have you coming back next week. Agents of SHIELD is a fun bit of popcorn TV, something to record then watch when you have an hour free to enjoy a bit of action and some amusing quips.
Agents of SHIELD hits UK TV this Friday 27th September at 8pm on Channel 4.