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TV Review: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Premiere By Trevor Roberts Jr

ABC premiered Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. on Tuesday, September 24, 2013 after many months of marketing.  It is unlikely that the Avengers or S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury will make an appearance due to the salaries the actors command.  So, it is up to Agent Coulson and the members of his special taskforce to carry the series.  Are they up to the task?  What about the show’s writing team?  Can they make us care about a S.H.I.E.L.D. series that will not feature the Avengers?  Read on for more details.  WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

If you are new to Marvel Comics, S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division: a secretive intelligence agency tasked with protecting the world from variable threats, usually “super” in nature.
The premiere is set some time after the events of The Avengers film (referred to as “The Battle of New York” in the TV series), and there were multiple references to the various Avengers throughout the episode.

Even though this is a Marvel world, we immediately see elements of the Whedonverse (i.e. nuances that Joss Whedon uses throughout his work) as J. August Richards plays Mike Peterson, a super human who is the focus of the Agents’ first mission.

Mike is a recently laid off factory worker who is trying to make ends meet for his son.  The show writers attempt to identify Mike with working class Americans who are unemployed yet who want to do whatever it takes to care for their families.  The writing is a bit obvious at times (ex: Mike’s monologue towards the end).  However, the writers don’t get too heavy-handed with the messaging, and J.’s portrayal of the character convinces the audience that Mike is a good person caught up in something he is not able to control.

There are a number of mysteries for the writers to delve into over the course of the series including reluctance from Agent Melinda May, portrayed by Ming-Na Wen (E.R., Mulan), to do field work, and what really happened to Agent Coulson so that he is back among the land of the living.

For a network television series about super heroes, the budget is impressive as the special effects are on par with, if not better, than NBC’s Heroes.  Since Disney has a vested interest in the success of Marvel’s film roadmap, here’s to hoping that their investments in the production budget continue.