Mid Season review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D (Season 1)

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The Marvel brand is so popular they seem able to print money: The last few weeks have seen the release of the trailer for The Guardians of the Galaxy in which one of the heroes is a sentient tree called Groot, while another is a talking bipedal raccoon. Marvel have won the cinematic universe arms race  by taking the kind of unapologetic approach to the fantastic that makes the people at DC/Warner sweat visibly, and it seems like the expansion of this world of Iron-Men and defrosted super soldiers to television would be a recipe for success.

Which makes it all the more disappointing when you come to the realisation, as I did 3-4 episodes in, that nothing remotely interesting is going to happen from the moment the Marvel logo appears on the screen to the moment the credits scroll down it.

Perhaps the worst thing about the show is the absolute lack of anything approaching an engaging character. Agent Ward is only interesting because never before has a leading protagonist been lacking in dimension that it made the cast of The Big Bang Theory look like Game of Thrones’. Agent May is also as one-note as a kazoo, while Mary-Sue mega hacker Skye is about as endearing as a fungal infection. Coulson’s resurrection serves the dual purpose of giving the writers something to drag out for the entire season while also robbing his death in the Avengers of any meaning whatsoever. Despite being a walking cliche strained out over two characters Fitz and Simmons are almost likable, although this says far more about their acting than it does the writing.

Despite Joss only having a producing role in the show it drips with the very worst Whedonisms. The bland, televisual cinematography. The snarky interplay between characters that was enjoyable in Firefly is overused to the point of grating smugness, and the banter is neither witty nor particularly insightful. The villains are boring and uninspired, terrorists and spies with the occasional madman who has built some kind of super weapon/serum from salvaged alien technology. With a universe containing an invincible green monster powered by rage and Norse gods, the kind of goons that Stirling Archer could easily dispatch simply do not cut it.

Agents of SHIELD is aggressively mediocre in a time when audiences have come to expect more. There is literally no reason to watch this show: Finished Breaking Bad? Watch True Detective and realise the bar has been raised again. Want something witty with a great group dynamic? Watch Veep, or Community. Action comedy? Brooklyn 99. Thriller? House of Cards and Hannibal have just entered season 2. Want a superhero show? Watch Arrow. If you’re a Marvel fan you have even less reason to watch it than most, you’ll be frustrated by the meager handful of Z-list character cameos. Just wait for the upcoming Netflix Daredevil series.

4/10, Agents of SHIELD will leave casual audiences bored and Marvel fans unimpressed.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D is currently being shown on Channel 4, and will return on 14/3/14

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