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Devin at Badass Digest sums it up perfectly:
In the middle of it all, and making it all worth it, is Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson. His tone is exactly right, with a pinch of camp and a dollop of seriousness, and nobody else on the show can keep up with him. It’s quite likely that without Gregg at the center Agents of SHIELD episodes would just start piling up on my DVR, unwatched.
I couldn’t agree more.
I’m not ready to give up on it, but the first two episodes been overwhelmingly cringe-worthy with just the smallest nuggets of awesomeness—delivered almost exclusively by Gregg. Near the end of last night’s episode, right around the point where an impossibly strong flotation device miraculously plugs a six-foot hole in an aircraft while simultaneously re-pressurizing the cabin, I came to the same conclusion as Devin. If it weren’t for Gregg’s über-charming Agent Coulson, Agents of SHIELD would be almost unwatchable.
It’s not all doom and gloom. I actually quite like the Fitz and Simmons dynamic and the action scenes are plentiful and surprisingly brutal (though maybe a bit over-choreographed). The quality of the CGI is above par and the sets are impressive, if not a little too sterile. Though, I guess that could be said about The Avengers, so I don’t hold that against them.
Hopefully the writing improves as the supporting cast grows into their roles, but I’m not holding my breath. My interest in the Marvel cinema universe will likely keep me watching regardless, but I don’t think there are enough like me to support what I assume is an unusually large-budgeted drama. And almost certainly not through more than one or two seasons. I’m worried that it’s not going to find its voice fast enough to attract an audience outside of the Marvel-faithful.
I’m not saying this has to be The Wire with superheroes—although, now that I think about it, can someone please make that happen? I guess I was hoping for an episodic Avengers but I feel like I’m getting something more akin to the later seasons of Smallville. And not in a good way.