Monday, March 10, 2014

Dear Forbes, you need some nerds.

The following blog post is rated R, mostly for language.

Last week, Forbes decided to weigh in on the whole Agents of SHIELD writing with this article, that claimed that "Had it been this show [that fans wanted] out of the gate, it would have failed catastrophically."

Really? Well, what does Forbes think that fans wanted in the first place?
Had the series come out of the gate with nothing but major universe tie-ins, the series would have tanked before episode two because it would have said to the viewing public “we’re only going for hardcore fans of the MCU right now.”
Major universe tie-ins? What?

Um, how do I break this to Forbes?  Oh, yeah. WE DIDN'T WANT MOVIE TIE-INS! We wanted the Marvel Universe writ small. There was not been one, single, teeny-tiny hint that there's an actual Marvel universe out there independent of the films until seven episodes in. Instead, now, at this late date, we're getting movie tie-ins? If I wanted a movie tie-in, I'd petition for Peter David to write novelizations of the films again.

I try not to swear, but I call BULLSHIT.


This entire article is a collection lame excuses, and even if I believed a single one of them, there is no reason on God's green Earth for Agents of SHIELD to have taken so damn long.  As of last week, March 4th, we were 14 episodes in; by this time in a single season of Buffy, or Arrow, or practically any other series with "a plan," we have some idea of who the bad guy is, what their motivations are, and a hint of their sinister plot.

Instead, we have had a creepy sex subplot with Ming-Na and someone young enough to be her son, we still have no idea about Coulson's death (not really), they spent a lot of time with awkward scenes of bad guys talking to each other, yet still lacking any character, and this garbage could have been compressed into half the time.

Don't believe me? Do you really think that "This couldn't have happened immediately"?

So we needed a "second pilot"? We needed the Island of Dr. Quinn ("The Asset")? We needed two-dimensional characters, writing as witless as 24, season 6, and a boatload of writing and episodes that went NOWHERE?
[more below the break]

Tell me right now why the viewing order couldn't have been:

Pilot (different ending: blowup Mike Peterson)
The pyrokinetic (The return of not-A.I.M. in "The Girl in the Flower Dress")
Either The Hub or The SHIELD academy (a solid murder mystery with some character development)
The painfully obvious ratings grab with the Thor 2 tie-in and the not-Wrecking Crew, starring Peter MacNicole ("The Well")
The Magical Place (We get a new timeline on Coulson's death)
The killer train (T.R.A.C.K.S. Surprise! Deathlok!), as a mid-season cliff-hangar
T.A.H.I.T.I. (last week's episode) where we actually introduce comic book SHIELD agents

Seven episodes, all of the good stuff, none of the boring crap, their vaunted "slow buildup," and we'd even have the blatant Thor tie-in AT THE APPROPRIATE PLACE AND TIME (November, when the Thor sequel came out).  This is half of the freaking show.  I could make the argument to keep the academy episode or the Island of Ian Quinn, if they actually follow through on anything laid down in those episodes, but I won't hold my breath.  That's still five brain-numbing hours that I want back, closer to seven.

Should we even discuss the upcoming episode that's a blatant dove tail to the Thor: The Dark World DVD release?

And there's still no reason for coming up with a team of "original characters," who are all about as original as the stereotype cookie-cutters they were produced from.

Forbes need some actual nerds on the staff who know what the fuck they're talking about, and I don't mean statisticians and stock analysts, I mean people who read comic books.  Is that so hard?

How could this have been done better?

Let's look at another comic book tv show: Arrowcentered around DC comics' Green Arrow. The first SCENE in Arrow has DC comic references. For anyone who has ever looked at the comic books for an hour (I may have spent four minutes), it's clear that someone has paid attention.  No, it's not fan service, fan service, fan service faithfulness to the comics – but there was enough to show that, yes, the writers are respecting the original material without being chained to it.

And then there's Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, with the forced references to the Marvel movie universe. Which is sort of strange, don't you think? Marvel has seemingly endless B- and C-list characters to draw on, and they used … no one.

But we needed time!

Again, tell it to Arrow; with a half-dozen nods to the comics in the first episode, AoS can not make any such excuses. However, since Jeph Loeb (last seen destroying Heroes) is running the series into the ground, I'm quite willing to blame him for everything. There's an entire universe to play with, and he's barely using any of it.

Like I said before, why bother making "original characters?" Marvel has a pilot named Wyatt Wingfoot... we needed someone new to fly the plane? Can't you see a modified Frank Castle (the Punisher) as being a slightly older field agent who “had a little breakdown a while back, he's better now”?  If they needed female agents, why not use Spider-Woman? Silver Sable? Jessica Jones? All of whom were deep, complex, yet badass females who do not have powers, (Spider-Woman has been de-powered so often, no one would blink if she didn't have them on the show).

With the occasions people have asked for lawyers, is there one reason they couldn't have name-dropped Jennifer Walters (She-Hulk)? Or Matt Murdock (Daredevil)? Marvel even has their own reporter for superheroes … so why didn't we just have her be the Skye character, only with social media instead of dead-tree media?

You see, Forbes, we don't want much, and we don't need much. There are plenty of little things that could have been done from day one.  Heck, even though the first appearance of Nick Fury, at the end of Iron Man, said "You've just taken your first step into a larger universe," the series has made it perfectly clear that there isn't a larger universe to be had.

Forbes apparently don't have any staff nerds, and they've never seen Arrow. While the occasional cameos were amusing, what we all wanted was melding the *general* world of weird that is the MCU (Marvel Comic Universe) in with the show.

In short, we wanted a Joss Whedon show, not a Jeph Loeb show. We wanted the Whedon wit and vibrant characters.  Even Xander of Buffy the Vampire Slayer had more character in the pilot than most of these folks do, half a season in.  They're sort of white bread ... and by that, I mean bland and generic.

The saving grace of the series since day one has been Agent Coulson, and he's what has me coming back week after week. Ming-Na's Melinda "The Cavalry" May had been interesting, then she and the "young hot thing" Grant Ward started having sex (she's 22 years older than he is. Just... eeh).

After the awesomeness that is Arrow, AoS is pissing me off with it's cliche` characters, its weak overall story arc, the cheap and obvious attempt to insert romantic tension, and its inability to incorporate the Marvelverse. Joss Whedon's name has been slapped on this as a selling point, but it's obvious he's not involved in any of the writing, the characters, or anything about AoS, really.

Someone send the message to Forbes. We don't want a movie tie-in series, we want a Marvelverse, characters we care about, the wit and wisdom we got from Buffy, and the basic Whedon magic. Not a Heroes retread.

1 comment:

  1. I just wanted a show that wouldn't put me to sleep. Mission failed. I have the same problem with their animated shows. How you go from Spectacular Spider-Man to Ultimate Spider-Man is beyond me. The latter is one of the worst superhero shows yet made while the first might be the best superhero show (outside Batman: The Brave & The Bold... yes, I like it that much) yet made.

    Marvel TV is junk and their movies are great and DC TV is great and their movies are junk. Such a frustrating situation.


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