Agents of SHIELD. Season 1 Discussion Thread

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Trekker4747, Sep 25, 2013.

  1. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The majority, yes. But I'm of the opinion that the minority still needs to be respected, not dismissed as irrelevant just because their numbers are small. Generally, it's best if you try not to alienate or confuse any segment of your audience. Pandering exclusively to the majority, or what you imagine the majority of your audience to be, is lazy, and it can be self-defeating in that it makes your work inaccessible to people who could otherwise enjoy it.


    Which is exactly why I already said that you need to find a balance, a way to provide exposition for new audiences without boring the old audience. It's not about a choice between black-and-white opposites. It's about finding a healthy middle ground.

    For instance, when I'm writing a Star Trek novel and I need to recap something from an episode or movie for the benefit of new or forgetful readers, I try to find a way to make it fresh for the rest of the readership, say, by telling the story from a different angle, revealing some part of it that was going on behind the scenes, or filtering it through the viewpoint of a character who has an unusual perspective on it. If nothing else, I try to streamline the exposition as much as possible, to get across just the basic necessary information. I've found there are many ways to avoid an "exposition block" of familiar information.


    I used to think that way, but then I realized that real people often do remind each other of events from their pasts, either to jog fading memories or just to share a reminiscence. And I've often heard friends and acquaintances retell the same stories over and over, sometimes when they're addressing other people and I happen to be part of the group, or sometimes because they forgot they'd told me before. I think once or twice I've had someone recap an incident to me because they didn't remember I'd been there when it happened. So there are real-life contexts where people recap their experiences to each other. Of course, if handled wrong in a story, it does come off as artificial, but again, it's not a simplistic all-or-nothing question. There's a lot of nuance, a lot of middle ground in which it can be made to work if you're careful.


    I'm always puzzled when people make statements assuming that the writer of a story is trapped by the parameters that exist within the story. The writer creates those parameters in the first place. Given that SHIELD is a security organization, it would be simplicity itself to establish that one or more of the characters weren't cleared to know about Extremis. Or you could simply have one of them not be fully briefed yet -- say, Ward could've not been up to speed on the events of the Mandarin incident because he was out of the country dealing with other crises.

    Or maybe Skye could've known. It wasn't a government secret, but a corporate invention. Plus she's a master hacker, so even if it was secret, she could've heard things about it. When Coulson said "Extremis," Skye could've said something like, "You mean that instant-healing process Advanced Idea Mechanics was developing? The one that--" Coulson nods. "Makes people overheat and explode. That's the one." Simplicity itself. Two people comparing notes just to make sure they're on the same page is a natural enough thing, plus you seed the idea of A.I.M. into the series in an organic way.


    Maybe the whole point is that these are people outside the normal SHIELD hierarchy, the misfits and eccentrics. Ward is a loose cannon with lousy people skills, May has some dark secret in her past that made her withdraw from field work, Fitz and Simmons are sheltered in their own private little sciencey world, and Skye is an outsider. Rather than making up a team of elites, Coulson has corralled a bunch of strays.

    Which, come to think of it, could be seen as following the example of the Avengers. That was also a group of misfits that one wouldn't expect to work well as a team. But Fury thought that bringing them together could generate an effective alchemy, and it worked, and now maybe Coulson's trying a similar experiment on a more mundane level.


    I'm not "upset," I just think it could've been handled better here and there. Again, it's not about whether it was done, just how it was done.


    The one member of the team who's an outsider to the organization, even mistrusting the organization? The potential dramatic role there seems self-evident to me. Stories are about conflict, but if everyone's part of the same organization, one expects them all to have similar goals and ideals. Skye can be the gadfly, the rogue, the wild card.


    To paraphrase something someone said on another board I post on: This isn't a Whedon show, it's a Marvel show that has Whedon working on it. So it's going to be more "corporate," less of his pure vision and more something that he's doing on behalf of others.


    Well, Ian de Castaecker is 26, so he at least is in his mid-20s. I can't find out how old Brett Dalton and Elizabeth Henstridge are, though. (Chloe Bennet is 21. Clark Gregg is 51 and Ming-Na Wen is 49, although neither of them looks it.)
     
  2. Corran Horn

    Corran Horn Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ugh - I'm very glad they didn't do something like that. Absolutely reeks of obvious exposition to me.

    What Extremis is was evident given the context as some here have said. Gives you powers. Makes you explode.
     
  3. Savage Dragon

    Savage Dragon TheSeeker Premium Member

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    Yes, I think You are putting a little too much emphasis on the need for exposition Christopher. I watched it with my wife and she didn't bat an eye at the line. She didn't turn to me and ask what Extremis was, and I think that's probably a pretty typical response for most viewers not familiar with the material.
     
  4. FPAlpha

    FPAlpha Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Every show is owned and run by the studio financing it, even if you have such big names as Abrams or Whedon attached to them.

    Maybe i expected more.. Avengers got me on edge when they announced Whedon as the principal boss of the movie uniting both direction and writing. I knew what he was capable of being very familiar with his work but the question was how much would Marvel control of it?

    It was a small miracle that they picked Whedon at all.. let's face it, he is big on TV and in the SF/Fantasy community but had only one movie under his belt for a dead show. Not usually someone you might give your most important movie which you have worked towards for many years and many movies.

    Yet apparently they gave him total creative reign and we got Avengers they way it is. So maybe i expected something similar with Shield.. obviously not with a major blockbuster budget but i don't need that for a TV show.

    I have brought up Firefly (sorry to the people who already roll their eyes).. their pilot episode, the true on called Serenity, just felt miles better. You learned about the characters through their actions, the way they behaved and some clichees got turned on their head.

    Shield tried to do the same but it didn't fire on all cylinders i'm afraid. However doing a pilot is very difficult as you have lots to do in 42-44 minutes including a story while trying to catch the interest of the audience.

    Now with Shield you have a built in audience that gives you a big credit and i just hope the show improves over time and makes us care for the characters and gets us to know them other than hot hacker chick, kick ass dude and those science fellas.
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Maybe, but my question would be, did the word "Extremis" even register with her at all? I think that's really my point -- that the mention of Extremis was so cursory that it didn't really feel like part of the story at all. It was just a few random syllables that the casual viewer might not even notice or realize had any significance. Maybe that's what they wanted, but it made it feel more like a gratuitous continuity reference than something that was organically part of the story. A continuity nod for the sake of a continuity nod is no better than an excessive exposition dump.

    Moreover, I feel the episode was a bit rushed in some ways, and this was part of it. Like the ending, where we don't get any explanation for how Fitz-Simmons solved the problem of how to bring Mike down nonlethally, but just had to put the pieces together ourselves. Or rather, we did get their early discussion of the untested prototype stungun, and then we saw Ward holding it after Mike fell, but the setup and the payoff were so far apart that a lot of people might've missed the connection. I'm not saying it needed an extended discussion to explain it -- please let's not erect any more strawman arguments about it being a choice between opposite extremes -- but there could've been something more than we got.


    Ownership is beside the point. Creatorship is the point. This is Whedon playing with someone else's toys rather than his own creations, so that naturally means it's not going to be as pure Whedon as something like Firefly or Dollhouse.
     
  6. Dixie Flatline

    Dixie Flatline Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    I'd give it a 7/10. Promising.
     
  7. Corran Horn

    Corran Horn Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I don't even think it was gratuitous. It was relevant to the story. If you knew what Extremis was from Iron Man 3 then that's great. If you didn't it was still easy to figure out what it was from the content presented.

    I don't think it's quite the strawman when your own example of what they could have done was only a couple sentences and still pretty clunky...and that's not a criticism of your writing. Any exposition about it beyond the cutesy "It's new" would've been excessive since as others have said within the context of the show it's easily understood.

    Heck, given Disney is involved I'm surprised they didn't throw a bug up on the screen saying that if you wanted to know more about Extremis you could've gone to your local store and picked up a copy of Iron Man 3 right then - they released it on home video yesterday.
     
  8. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Of course, "Serenity" was a two-hour pilot which to better establish things, and AoS only got one hour to introduce everyone and get things going.
     
  9. Nomad

    Nomad Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    I liked it well enough. I don't expect greatness in the first episode of any show, but the potential is there. I do hope they introduce some recognizable costumed heroes eventually. I don't expect the Avengers to show up, but there are plenty of other characters they can use.
     
  10. gblews

    gblews Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This is what I thought while watching, also. I'm sure both ABC and the rest of TPTB have watched Whedon's other T.V. shows and realize that he takes time to build his characters and their stories (as you say), and has rarely failed to deliver something unique and easy to love -- Dollhouse being the possible exception. I'm hoping the show gets plenty of time to succeed.

    Enjoyed the episode. The dialogue was great. loved when Skye referred to the agent as a "T-1000". Good seeing J. August Wilson and the other Whedon actors involved.

    The final scenes with Mike were actually shot at Union Station in downtown L.A. The part of the building in which they did most of their shooting is almost never used in productions. Fun for me, since I go through that part of the station twice a day everyday.

    Looking forward to watching this one develope.
     
  11. LaxScrutiny

    LaxScrutiny Commodore Commodore

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    Compare Skye to Felicia Day playing Charlie on Supernatural. Supernatural got it right. SHIELD got it wrong.

    Compare the mood and style to a quirky show like Warehouse 13 or Eureka. SHIELD got it wrong.

    This is just so generic in it's presentation. If you take the Marvel references out of it, would this show last for a second week, much less a second season?
     
  12. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    Exactly. They said it makes you explode. We saw that he had super strength. I'm not sure what at all more they needed to do. If you want to know more, watch Iron Man 3. For purposes of the plot, that was sufficient.
     
  13. Emh

    Emh The Doctor Premium Member

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    So far only Clark Gregg and Ming Na are the only good things about the show for me. Ron Glass was also good, of course, but he doesn't look like he'll be a major character, unfortunately, and Cobie Smulders was good but I don't expect to see much of her for this season. However, I found the bulk of the characters to be annoying, but hopefully things will pick up because I want to like this show.

    Including Extremis was nice and I agree that more of an explanation wasn't needed (what it does is all that matters, not the back history, at least not right now). What was cool was how in that single scene, they managed to bring ideas from Iron Man, Hulk, and Captain America and tied them all together. Hell, all of the movies were referenced throughout the show and all of the major characters referenced in some form, except Hawkeye (unless I missed it).
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    But that's just it -- they didn't. Not clearly, anyway. Coulson saw the rewind showing that the test subject had blown up, and just said "Extremis. It's new." And it wasn't made clear how that tied into the cocktail of superpowers that Simmons was talking about, or even whether it was something separate from that. Heck, I'm familiar with all this stuff from the movies, and even I don't know whether they were saying that Extremis was an ingredient in the cocktail along with all the other superpower stuff, or whether they were saying that the cocktail of Erskine serum, gamma radiation, etc. was the origin of Extremis. They just spat out this word salad of Marvel continuity nods and it didn't really come together clearly. I would've been happier if they'd left out the gamma/serum/etc. stuff altogether -- which only seemed to be there to give Simmons something to babble about -- and had it just be Extremis, since the effect on Peterson and the other guy seemed exactly like Extremis's effect in IM3. That would've been more coherent and less conceptually cluttered.


    I think the action figures in the store window included all the Avengers.
     
  15. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    They said "he didn't bring a bomb, he was the bomb" or something like that. Then, shortly later, they talked about how the fact that he explodes wasn't tied to anger (or something like that), but that they needed to contain him or else he could take out a block or something like that.

    I thought they did a fairly subtle job of explaining everything without forced exposition. If anything, the "Extremis - it's new" was more out of place. Otherwise, it seemed everyone was on the same page.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Which is what I've been trying to say all along -- that it felt awkward and could've been incorporated better.
     
  17. Greg Cox

    Greg Cox Admiral Premium Member

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    Honestly, I haven't seen Iron Man 3 yet, and I understood the Extremis thing fine.

    (Granted, I have vague memories of reading about "Extremis" in Iron Man comics years ago, but I understood what was happening and picked up on the fact that it was a bit of an Easter egg.)
     
  18. Alidar Jarok

    Alidar Jarok Everything in moderation but moderation Moderator

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    Well, I think he could have just said "Extremis!" and that's it. No one else requires explanation and they all move on. I think it was supposed to be funny, so I don't intend to overanalyze it, but I don't think it's helpful exposition by itself.
     
  19. Turtletrekker

    Turtletrekker Vice Admiral Admiral

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  20. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    There's so much about the premise of this SHIELD show that plays like jumping into the middle of a narrative in progress. Why make an issue out of one little detail that isn't adequately explained? The whole thing requires the uninitiated viewer, who presumably is the target audience, to just roll with almost everything.
     

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