The 21st century is when everything changes, apparently – or that was the gospel according to Torchwood, and it’s riffed on pretty effectively in the opening episode of this TV spin off from Marvel’s Avengers (Assemble) movie. If you’ve not seen the film, there’s enough information provided to make sense of the set up, and Agent Coulson’s apparent resurrection is addressed front and centre. Sort of.
It’s a Joss Whedon show, so a lot of the ingredients are exactly as you’d expect: clever one-liners; characters doing exactly what you don’t expect of them; slick, well-choreographed fight scenes; a team coming together formed from misfits who don’t trust each other. And, of course, appearances by the Whedon repertory company, in this case J. August Richards as the hooded hero whose actions spark the episode.
It’s a more general-audience-friendly show than Dollhouse or Firefly: it’s designed to catch those who enjoyed the antics of the superheroes on the big screen, but the jury is out at the moment as to whether these behind the scenes characters will be sturdy enough to take the weight of a series. Assuming Agents of SHIELD lasts the course, I’m sure we can expect cameos from some of the bigger names as the Avengers sequel The Age of Ultron approaches, and possibly even the odd hint about other events in the Marvel movie universe.
The BBC’s big new fantasy series, Atlantis, premieres in the UK the day after SHIELD: on the surface, the former has more work to do in establishing its premise, but in fact once you analyse SHIELD, there’s not a lot that has carried over from the films, bar the iconography and Agent Coulson. In that respect, while SHIELD may bring people in quicker, it’s going to need more than the surface gloss of this pilot to hold its audience.
Verdict: Enjoyable, slick but we need to care about these characters, and we’ve not really been given any reason to yet, bar their link to billion-dollar movies! 7/10