Like almost all of my friends, I was stoked for the premiere of S.H.I.E.L.D. and waited with excitement for it from the moment it was announced. I followed the casting with glee and anticipation. It was, after all, Joss Whedon and I’ve loved everything he’s done; yes, including the much maligned Dollhouse.
And then the night of the premiere. Unlike most of my friends, I don’t own a tv so I had to wait until it aired online in order to watch it. Therein was the first problem for me. While no one spoiled me, I heard nothing but bad things and was apprehensive by the time I actually got to see it. Not the best frame of mind to watch a new show: determined to like it no matter what…
For me, a show is all about the characters. I have to believe in the characters in order to become a fan of the show. I fell in love with Fitz and Simmons instantly. Coulsen was his usual awesome, dry self. And May needed no defending from anyone. My problem, unexpectedly, was the writing of Ward and Skye and – to be honest – of the episode itself. It felt clunky and obvious through the entire episode.
I could absolutely see why everyone was disappointed. I didn’t (and don’t) feel the need to rip it to shreds like everyone else seemed to be doing, though. Creating any tv show is a Herculean effort, let alone one that falls under the Avenger’s too-impressive shadow. Could it improve? Yeah, defintiely. Did it suck? Absolutely not. I enjoyed it for what it was: a spy/action show with gadgets to make Bond envious and give Ethan Hunt a run for his money… plus superpowers and alien tech. I was ready and willing for it to get better because let’s face it, there are very few shows that hit their stride and/or capture our hearts on the premiere. And it was Joss, so I knew it would get better.
Except, it didn’t. Not really. I still adored Fitz and Simmons, and I loved May and Coulsen to pieces, but Skye and Ward grated on me every single time. And you can’t really enjoy a show when you can’t stand almost half the cast. I couldn’t figure out if it was how the characters were being written, the acting, or what, but neither of them would gel for me. And the writing itself remained disappointingly obvious, although that could be just because of how my particular mind works, I dunno. Maybe my expectations were still too high. All I knew was that it wasn’t a “must watch” show for me.
The episode where things finally clicked for me was The Hub, which was episode seven. I usually give a new show three or four episodes to come together, but I knew once S.H.I.E.L.D. found its footing, it would work damn well, so I kept watching. Thankfully, it wasn’t in any danger of being canceled because the numbers were actually working out! So many shows get axed before they can even get a real chance that I was worried at first. Being a Joss project didn’t preclude S.H.I.E.L.D. from getting canceled, after all.
Oddly, Ward’s background episode didn’t make me like him any better, which I’m sure was what it was designed to do. Neither did Skye’s (although really, a lot of the episodes were All About Skye, which I think was part of my problem). It was when they all started to relax (writers and actors both) and stopped worrying about being perfect that at last that things got better. Making it more the ensemble show it was supposed to be (imo) instead of All About Skye helped a ton, too.
I went on IMDB to see who wrote what episode just so I could figure out what was going on, but dayam. Almost everyone has the exact same credits and I don’t know who did what. I want to say that Joss didn’t actually write the first few eps just going by style, but I don’t know. I’m just glad I can say that my faith was justified and S.H.I.E.L.D. is a show I look forward to every week now… and not just because Joss is the creator/writer.
(Also, if you guys at S.H.I.E.L.D. are looking to expand your apparently tiny writing staff, I’m totally available. Happy to write, learn by osmosis, share my personal tech-killing superpower, roll calls, fetch coffee… ;o))