If you want to get your eyes raped, go watch Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. In a not unpredictable maneuver, Marvel is attempting to capitalize on their big screen success by expanding their media empire onto the small screen. In this case by taking a passé organization from the Marvel Comic universe, S.H.I.E.L.D., and creating a paranormal exploration show a la Supernatural or [place other crappy paranormal TV show title here] around it.
The show, which follows Agent Coulson from the Avengers film and his quirky team of experts around the world as they try to stop crises. Coulson was resurrected through unknown means (or he’s a clone or LMD, who cares really) to serve as the show’s protagonist and only solid if unimpressive link to Marvel’s film franchise. The show depends entirely on 2 things for its current success: 1) legions of fanboys who will watch anything tagged with the Marvel brand no matter how bland and derivative, and 2) A large swath of the American public who actually enjoy CW style shows like this one. If you are one of those people then feel free to disregard everything said here. Also, feel free to kill yourself.
The writing on the show is middle school level at best. The jokes are flat one liners that seem perfectly suited to a tween sitcom. The romantically and ideologically tense relationship between the strict company man and the new upstart team member is so sickeningly ham fisted that it is almost insulting. The mystery of the week format that the show follows has been done so many times that its almost farcical. And lets not even get into the acting, if it can even be called that… The dead eyes of Agent Coulson as he smirks his way through every episode makes me want to ask “what did we do to deserve this?”
So what did we do, Marvel? For finally giving the fans what they want, you were rewarded in kind with one of the highest grossing films ever with The Avengers. You smartly chose a talented director and writing staff who could pull your myriad characters together into a pretty damn good flick. Your other films, though most were not as impressive (see Iron Man 2, Spider-Man 3, etc.), have been passable enough to keep us as an audience on board.
So is it really a good idea to flush all the goodwill we now have towards Marvel down the toilet by shoveling this kind of crap down our throats? Why not continue doing what’s been working for you and take a considered and unique approach to your next phase.
Sure, we know it’s all about the bottom line, but why parlay your success into something crappy when you could easily make a good show and get not only the dregs of your fans and the general public but an actually worthwhile audience. The 2 groups from above are going to watch regardless. Think bigger. When you play the universal appeal card you see decent returns. But when you take calculated risks (like you did when hiring Joss Whedon for the Avengers) you have the potential to make much, much more.
The show is performing pretty well so far in terms of ratings because the two groups I mentioned above are both rabid and large. But here’s the thing: the show sucks. It can’t stand up on its own, and being propped up by the greater Marvel universe looming over its shoulder will only keep people on board for so long.
While I am a lifelong comic book fan, in no way am I writing this as a comic book purist who can’t stand to see his precious Marvel Universe defiled. I’m writing this as a TV enthusiast who is genuinely disturbed by the type of crap that keeps permeating the airwaves. As the newest player in the game, Marvel is just the most obvious target. I could write a post on Arrow to shame DC as well, but it’d be pretty much the same post.
Brief rant to close on: Your TV sucks, America. I don’t really blame Marvel for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Not really. I blame you for being complacent and watching any old turd that comes on the tube. I’m talking to you: the one reading this and saying “Aw, he’s exaggerating. Its not that bad.” Sorry but it really, really is… you’ve just been watching it so long that you actually believe its got substance. You have the TV version of Stockholm Syndrome. Stop getting sucked in by bad shows. Stop letting studios win with their formulaic, lazy nonsense. Vote with your remote. Demand better. Be better.
That is all.