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Review: 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' Demands Inside Marvel Knowledge (TRAILER)

Thompson on Hollywood By David Chute | Thompson on Hollywood September 25, 2013 at 2:47PM

The show assumes a fair amount of inside Marvel knowledge on the part of its viewers, which at this point is not much of a stretch. But all the elaborate backstories being spun out don't always promote comprehension. The target audience, one suspects, will have little trouble keeping up.
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Clark Gregg
ABC Clark Gregg

Fast-paced almost to a fault, and funny and expensively produced, with the handsomest high-tech sets this side of vintage Ken Adam, the 8 p.m. "family hour" premiere of Joss Whedon's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." (ABC) was a good deal better than it had to be.

As one Deadline commenter noted, "S.H.I.E.L.D." was "the most predictable hit in years, if not decades," but the result was still impressive. According to "The Hollywood Reporter," the show "averaged a 4.6 rating among adults 18-49 and brought in 11.9 million viewers … it now ranks as the top network drama premiere since ABC's 'V' in 2009."

Created and run by recent EW coverboy Whedon, along with brother Jed and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen ("Dollhouse"), the show benefits from his trademark snark-casm, as exemplified particularly, in the Joss-directed pilot, by the regular-guy facetiousness of the boss, Clark Gregg's conveniently resurrected "Avengers" casualty Phil Coulson, and in the overlapping by-play of Scot Iain De Caestecker and Brit Elizabeth Henstridge as bickering techies. Ron Glass and Cobie Smulders are notable supporting players.

The show assumes a fair amount of inside Marvel knowledge on the part of its viewers, which at this point is not much of a stretch. But all the elaborate backstories being spun out don't always promote comprehension. The target audience, one suspects, will have little trouble keeping up.

This article is related to: Joss Whedon, Joss Whedon, Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., TV, TV Reviews, Television, Television


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.