Managing expectations is always hard. When TV shows are ending, the pressure to do it well is immense due to what came before.
Well, “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (first and last time I’ll call it that way, with branding and punctuation) hasn’t aired a single episode, but it carries a whole lot of baggage. First, it comes from Joss Whedon, whose success in TV is rivaled only by his cancelled shows. Buffy, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse all have both the critic’s support and a passionate following. Second, it follows seven blockbusters (and its continuity), one of them being the third highest-grossing movie of all time. And third, it has to juggle that superpowered world without the movie’s stars and budgets.
(Personally, I would add a fourth: its showrunners, Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon, were involved in “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”, arguably the greatest web short film ever).
Will the show succeed? I hope so. What does that mean? I don’t know. It has to serve ABC and its ratings needs. It has to serve the continuity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (which will now need a new name). It has to be, as a TV show, creatively and narratively satisfying.
That’s a lot of words to portray my feeling: trepidation. I’m excited, but nervous. I want it to succeed, but I understand the reasons it might not. This makes it sound like I’m down on the show, but I’m not.
So let’s move on to my reasons I’m excited!
Joss Whedon is a master at serialized TV. Having a new show overseen by him is amazing. It’s a sci-fi superhero show on network television, which is something both rare and exciting. Clark Gregg, Agent Coulson on the movies and the show, is an amazing actor portraying a great character. And let’s be honest: as a Whedon fan, a TV fan, and a Marvel Universe fan, I’m going to watch this until its end, bitter or otherwise.
So here we are, before the Pilot. The episode that’ll be more expensive than any other on the series. The episode that doesn’t represent what the show will be years down the line. One that has to set up a new world, within an existing one, in 42 minutes. It’s an heroic task. I hope Whedon and Gregg assembled a team ready to take it on.
It’s okay, boss. This was never going to work… if they didn’t have something… to…
– Agent Phil Coulson’s last words