Thursday, February 6, 2014

View Log: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Prologue Rebuttal

Hello, all you Artsy Core readers! My name is Newt, and I'm new!  Well, I'm new here. Over at the NewtCave, I've posted Reviews/Recaps of TV Shows, and various articles on comic book characters, comic book deaths, and more.

As you may have figured out, I do love me some comic books, and I've a bit of experience with the Blogtubes, and the Facetweets, and the Tumblrupons, and the whatnots. And so, I've been brought on by the Artsy Core him?/her?/it?self to provide a counterpoint analysis of ABC's upcoming Avengers spin-off, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., not only as a non-spherical-flesh-and-blood-person, but also as a comic book fan.

The original plan was to send me up to space on this bone-shaped Satellite they salvaged back in the late 90's and send me episodes to watch with these two robots, but I vetoed that. Unlike some of the Artsy Core's ilk, I have no desire to go to space. Don't like space. Space too big.

Now, before I begin to give my opposing view on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I would like to stress that just because I may disagree with Artsy Core, I'm not saying that AC's wrong. I've written a post addressing the subject before, but it bears repeating: People are allowed to have their own opinions. I will probably be disagreeing with the Artsy Core on numerous points. Let's make one up for an example! (I wish to stress that I'm making this up off of the top of my head; I do not know if my example will be true. Probably not.)

Artsy Core: I thought that the cameo of Doctor Doom was unnecessary, doing little more than shouting at the viewer, "HEY! THIS IS MARVEL COMICS, REMEMBER?!"
Newt: While a bit gratuitous, I thought that the inclusion of a Doctor Doom cameo was a nice little bone to the fans who want to see him in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, despite the movie rights to the Fantastic Four and such characters being owned by Fox.

Who's right? Neither of us; there is no "right" or "wrong" in this sort of case, there are only opinions. I could wax on for pages and pages on the merits of authorial intent, audience interpretation, etc., but the point I'm trying to stress is that at the end of the day, I will have my opinion, and Artsy Core will have his?/hers?/its?opinion. And that's fine. Now let's begin!
Well, we do know that the title will be accurate.
Joss Whedon will never be mainly known for his plots. I'm sorry, Mr. Whedon, but no one will be looking at your work and going, "He's an amazing plotter!" However, he is a competent plotter, and his greatest strength is, and has always been, his characters. His second greatest strength is story construction, which makes up for his only-above-average plotting abilities. For example, let's take the Firefly episode "The Train Job." 

Plot: Hired to rob a train. They do so, but two of them are left behind. Before they're rescued, they discover that they stole medicine. They give it back, they send a message to their hirer that they're not bad guys. Also, subplot stuff.

That's a plot (or at least a formula) that could be applied to many, many different shows. But the plot is elevated by the construction/pacing of the story, which is itself elevated by the character interaction and dialogue. Artsy Core has mentioned of the plot of The Avengers that "[...]"these people have problems... but they can put it aside to save the world". Yawn..." 

I would argue that it's not the fact that they don't get along, then put aside their differences, but the journey in how they do so is why many people, including myself, enjoyed the film. Whedon's stories are not just about what happens, but enjoying how it happens. It's like riding a roller coaster, and then focusing on the fact that you're back where you started; you're looking in the wrong place for your enjoyment. However, I wish to stress again that opinions are not facts; the journey taken may turn out to be worse than the destination for some, and that's fine.
Is basically what I'm saying.
Even though no episodes will be arriving until September, information has been release regarding the "tone" of the stories, if you will. Personally, I think the premise itself is a rather unique one for TV. We're currently inundated with all these shows (now that TV can have the budget for good CGI) focusing on characters in the thick of global catastrophe and actively fighting the terrors involved. 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
will be about the people left over. There was a short included with The Avengers Blu-Ray where S.H.I.E.L.D. tracks down a modern-day Bonnie and Clyde using a left over alien gun... and they give the two a job for making the broken thing work. That sort of story should be the norm on AoS; dealing with the leftovers of larger conflicts, or the things that the Avengers are too busy to deal with.

Maybe some old man finds a Norn Stone after a Thor battle and tries to remake the world into the 1940's? 
Maybe a vampire bit this guy named Michael Morbius before being destroyed by Hawkeye? 
Maybe all the Avengers are busy, but Titanium Man's attacking the White House? 
Maybe the Purple Man has his own TV show? 
Perhaps a few of the agents have been taken to Arcade's Murderworld in secret? (Although, something like that may very well be Executive Meddling to capitalize off of The Hunger Games.
Maybe agents are being replaced with evil Life Model Decoys?

Whedon has proven, in my opinion, time and time again that he is in his element when he's working with an ensemble cast with different personalities all bouncing off of each other, and that's what Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has. Whedon himself put it best when they said that the show has to not only appeal to fans of the films, but also has to stand independently on its own merits.

Will it? I honestly can't say. I agree with Artsy Core that Whedon's had hits and misses. Only time will tell which one this will be. Do I expect this to be a groundbreaking bit of TV history? No. But I'm really hoping for another Firefly.* Character depth, nuanced storytelling, and clever interaction that can elevate the plots, even if they're not the best plots around.

Actually, the characters are already Firefly-like, if you go from their show descriptions.

Coulson- Malcolm Reynolds (Deadpan snarky protagonist) 
Agent May- Zoe (Ace pilot/fighter) 
Agent Ward- Jayne (Gruff foil to the team) 
Skye- River/Kaylee (Bubbly and weird, but highly competent) 
Agent Fitz- Jayne/Wash (Weapons guy, in relationship with...) 
Agent Simmons- Zoe/Simon (Smart, doctor, in relationship with the former)

You can't take the sky from them. Unless you destroy the Helicarrier.

Also, Ron Glass (aka Shepherd Book) is showing up. Yep, looks like Whedon set the Firefly formula to shuffle. At this point, despite my exhaustive pondering, all I can do is hope for the best. So, hope for the best, I shall.

(Originally posted 8/18/13)

*Not like that; Let's not even get into Whedon's cursed history of TV cancellation.

1 comment:

  1. Dat MTS3K reference. Also Pinkie Pie.

    - That One Anon