It’s got super-powers, espionage, action and, thankfully, a dash of dry humour too.
S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division but as we will also learn, “It means someone really wanted our initials to spell out SHIELD.”
Tongue-in-cheek lines are clearly the work of director and co-creator Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dollhouse, Angel, Firefly) doing his best with this agency created by Stan Lee way back in the 1960s. “With great power comes … a ton of weird crap that you are not prepared to deal with” …there’s a bunch of lines like this.
This version takes place after “The Battle of New York” as seen in The Avengers, where aliens and superhumans have emerged.
Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) returns to head up S.H.I.E.L.D. (with apologies to KAOS and The Man from U.N.C.L.E.) and a team of agents assigned to stop a group of hacktivists known as Rising Tide. They encounter unemployed labourer Mike Peterson (J. August Richards) who has superhuman powers -sometimes used for good rather than evil- and a hacker Skye (Chloe Bennet) who wants him to out himself to the world.
But while Thor, Captain America, Incredible Hulk and co. fleshed out the Avengers flick, they’re absent here. Instead we have a team of agents and weapons experts who “protect the ordinary from the extraordinary” at Coulson’s directions.
The team includes a quarrelling UK duo Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) known collectively as ‘FitzSimmons’ who add the light and kooky -y’know a bit like NCIS and Criminal Minds have on their teams. Also on board are veteran agent Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen) and black-ops specialist Grant Ward (Brett Dalton).
The show has sexy toys: a big black plane, a shiny red sports car, a honeycomb-walled interrogation room and heavy artillery, as well as some CGI explosions and martial arts. While it clearly lacks a movie budget, there’s driving music to ramp up the atmosphere and just about everyone sports designer-wear clothes.
While Clark Gregg has fun as the leader of this troupe, its Whedon’s dry humour that provides the light and shade in the first hour (Seven will screen two eps back to back).
It’s never easy for comic book adaptations to sustain a broad audience, yet there’s good potential here. But it could also be the kind of show that settles into a 9:30 timeslot by Season Two where fanboys store up questions of logic shortcomings for comic conventions.
That said, so far so good.
Marvels’ Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D airs 7:30pm Wednesday on Seven (review of first episode only).