I’m quite shocked to find that I have mixed feelings about this pilot. I assumed I would fall in love immediately and gush about it to everyone. Instead, I find myself dissecting it slowly looking for pieces I might have missed or at least an explanation as to why I feel indifferent toward every single character.
I knew that this would not be “Joss’s new show.” He has a crowd of other creatives also sharing the helm (including his brother Jed and sister-in-law Maurissa) so I wasn’t expecting witty dialogue from a tiny girl who kicks monster butt. I was, however, expecting to care about at least one character. There’s potential there, but so far it’s unrealized.
“Sterile” is a word I would use to describe the pilot. Part of the issue is the cool color scheme. For such passionate issues as truth and belief to be discussed in the pilot, the greys and purples muted or inhibited the emotional impact for me. It felt almost impersonal, which might be because the pilot was written by three people instead of one. I didn’t hear a specific voice (except for the occasional stellar one-liner).
It could be that the pilot is merely being secretive. The entire S.H.I.E.L.D. program is built on secrets, and it makes sense that the show would follow suit with its cast of characters, who are surely hiding a few secrets of their own. I keep picking this piece back up because I think it’s the key to where the writing went a little awry. By playing things too close to the vest, we didn’t get a really good look at the characters, and this meant that none of them got a moment that satisfied me as a viewer.
As far as secrets go, however, the pilot hinted at some pretty interesting ones. The mystery surrounding Coulson’s miraculous survival isn’t explained, but there’s an unsettling exchange between Agent Hill and another S.H.I.E.L.D. employee that has my theories spinning wildly out of control. That and the tantalizing whisper of “The Rising Tide” alone will keep me watching.
There were, however, several things I deeply appreciated about the pilot. The writing was clean, crisp, and solid. No extra fat on the dialogue. That’s difficult for any show let alone one with such a high-concept premise that partially relies on technobabble and military vocabulary. I applaud the lack of tiring exposition and the excellent use of one-line zingers.
Another thing I loved was the diversity of the cast. There are actors of all age ranges, from early 20’s to 50’s, there are a multitude of ethnicities (including Skye, the main female, who is a bi-racial Asian American), and there are an equal amount of roles for both genders. It looks like there are several different personality types as well which is also a good sign.
Two of the young cast members are from England and Scotland, and I thought this was an interesting exercise in diversity as well since they get to keep their accents while in character. I’m thrilled that these young actors are getting a chance to be involved in something like this. It will be very interesting to see them develop their characters as they act alongside such veterans as Ron Glass and Clark Gregg.
I was delighted to discover that Bear McCreary (responsible for the breathtaking score of Battlestar Galactica) is helming the musical side of this project. He’s one of the most innovative composers working on television, and I can’t wait to hear the themes he weaves together for the S.H.I.E.L.D. team.
This was a great pilot. It was concise while managing to juggle several characters and plotlines simultaneously. While I wish there had been more character development up front, I’m happy that there weren’t too many secrets spilled like in the Sleepy Hollow pilot which laid out its biggest card immediately. I’m looking forward to seeing what Agent Coulson and his team have to deal with next week.