Episode 1 “Pilot”
I’ve been wanting to add TV shows to Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights for a long time, but there are a couple big problems with that situation for me, one is that there were very few new TV shows that I could look at an episode at a time as they came out, I had wanted to do it with Arrow last year, but for whatever reason I just never got around to it. And if I wanted to go back to an older series I would want to do a full season at a time, and when I barely have enough time to watch movies, it’s an even taller order to take the time to watch a full season of a show, even if it could be broken up into smaller chunks. But I this year I was excited by a new series coming out this year, it’s based in the Marvel cinematic universe and it brings back everyone’s favorite Avenger, Agent Coulson. I’m talking about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. And it started with a very impressive pilot. I just hope it lives up to its premier.
One of the first things that a pilot has to do is set up its world and its characters, and luckily a lot of the work has already been done for S.H.I.E.L.D. Coulson is a welcome presence and he brings back exactly what made him likeable in all the earlier Marvel movies. He’s funny, he’s charming, and he does things not entirely the way you might expect, like a great moment in this episode where he uses truth serum on his level 7 trainee rather than the woman they are interrogating. But for the most part, this episode is all about bringing together and introducing all the characters that aren’t Coulson. We’re first introduced to Agent Ward through a fun little action/espionage scene where Ward recovers a rogue piece of Chitari technology. He’s one of the big audience insights into the inner workings of S.H.I.E.L.D. because while he was already in the organization, he has just been promoted to the super secret “level 7” and through him, we get introduced to several of the other characters.
It is worth noting that besides Coulson, most of the other characters at this point in the show are very broad and very much character tropes, likeable tropes, but tropes just the same. There’s the comic relief, somewhat bickering, somewhat socially awkward tech squad Fitz Simmons, there’s the old vet reluctantly called back into duty played by Ming Na, and the wildcard fly in the ointment hacker. I do admit that I do like me a good wildcard character, but at the same time I hope they do something more interesting with her. The opening mission follows a Joss Whedon vet J. August Richards who played Gunn in Angel as someone you first think is a hero but turns out to be involved in something much greater than that. And while this show isn’t really played up as a mystery I did like the fact that there were a few twists and turns here in the pilot episode.
The strongest moments are by far the humor, which is very familiar if you’re a fan of Joss Whedon’s previous works. But on top of that, there are also great moments of action and some nice special effects. I also really enjoyed a lot of the tie ins to the other Marvel releases like mentioning New York, Thor, and the Extremis project. It’s tough to say if the quality of the special effects, which were done on a pilot’s typically inflated budget, will continue on through the rest of the series or if they will falter off in favor of keeping the costs down, but this is a Marvel property and it did open to some huge ratings so time will tell. For now I have high hopes and as long as they keep Coulson in the forefront, I’ll be a happy camper. I also hope to keep up with the new episodes each week so keep an eye out, I’m also in the process of working through another series and might try to catch up with Arrow. What did you think of the pilot episode, are you going to keep watching? And what else are you looking forward to/excited by this fall? Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.
Quick note: On Hulu, there’s also a companion 5-minute show called M.A.O.S. Declassified which has a brief rundown of the episode, a little behind the scenes, and a bit of fun. I did like some of the humor in the short, even though it’s pretty much a fluff piece. No real extra insight, but it does show a clip of Coulson’s death scene from the Avengers. Worth a watch if you have 5 minutes to kill, especially if you’re watching M.A.O.S. on Hulu already.