Agent Coulson returns (but was he really in Tahiti?) to lead a team of experts against superhuman and alien threats in the Marvel Cinema-verse.

Title: “Pilot”

Cast and Crew

Directed by Joss Whedon
Written by Joss Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen

Clark Gregg as Phil Coulson
Ming-Na Wen as Melinda May
Brett Dalton as Grant Ward
Chloe Bennet as Skye
Iain De Caestecker as Leo Fitz
Elizabeth Henstridge as Jemma Simmons
J. August Richards as Mike Peterson
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill
Shannon Lucio as Debbie
Ron Glass as Dr. Streiten

Full cast and crew information may be found here.

Premise

S.H.I.E.L.D. invetigates a hacktavist and a superhuman in the wake of the Avengers’ Battle of New York.

High Point

The show creates a sense of a stumbling but developing group dynamic and heroes fighting in the shadows of superheroes.

Low Point

The solution to the Peterson problem seemed too easy and too pat, especially as it came at the end of a fairly predictable tale.

The Scores:

Originality: 3/6 Although adapted from comics, it features original characters, and , while we’ve never seen the espionage/action genre on television many times before, it has never taken place in this kind of universe.

A flying car? Sure, but did they have to make the reveal exactly like Back to the Future? A copy does not instantly constitute a tribute.

Effects: 6/6 This show boasts one of the highest budgets in television. Of course, the effects pale beside what we see on the big screen, but that should not keep viewers from seeing the visuals have been effectively handled.

Story: 4/6 The first episode features a very linear story with few twists. They were more interested in establishing their characters and world for the pilot. A world this complex can be established gradually. How much did the original Trek or Buffy tell us from the start? In particular, I wish the co-opting of Skye had taken place over the first two or three episodes. And a less happy ending might have made for a more dramatic start—but I understand why they chose this particular resolution.

The story kept my interest, but a world already established in multiple movies could take a few more risks in its first episode.

Acting: 5/6 The episode features strong acting, overall, and the usual Whedonesque quips and Easter Eggs. The token nerds seemed a tad too annoying and eccentric, but they may work out. Gregg remains in fine form as the lynchpin of Marvel’s mass media-verse.

Emotional Response: 5/6

Production: 6/6.

Overall: 5/6 I award this score keeping in mind that pilots can be rough. The show ties in nicely with its established universe while remaining its own entity.

In total, “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Pilot” receives 34/42

Lingering Questions

  • What really happened to Coulson in The Avengers, and immediately after?
  • Can we hope for one or two guest-stars? Murmurs have been heard of a Nick Fury cameo. Jeremy Renner likely remains within price-range, and I suppose Iron Man could do a fly-by, but it wouldn’t be the same without Downey’s voice.
  • Can S.H.I.E.L.D. trust Skye? Can she trust S.H.I.E.L.D.?