Marvel’s Agents Of Shield Borrows From Mass Effect 3?!

By John Walker on January 13th, 2014 at 9:00 am.

Anyone who’s watched Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD, and possesses more taste than a toilet roll, will have noticed that it’s a massive stinking turkey of colossal proportions. Somehow making Agent Coulson an unlikeable character – an even more impressive feat since he’s surrounded by utterly hateable characters – it’s a miserable mess of dreary sub-sub-sub-CSI procedural tedium, and mortally embarrassed to be in the Marvel universe. It seems to go out of its way to avoid including anything regarding super heroes, and indeed anything directly relating to familiar Marvel themes, instead opting for that most tiresome trope: evil scientists. (Although without mentioning AIM or Hydra, of course.) Viewers of a recent episode of the somehow not cancelled series might have noticed their strangest decision yet: to use Mass Effect 3 concept art.

Reported by Eurogamer, and spotted by an eagle-eyed Bioware forumite, the catchily named fhweufhewiu, the heavily edited piece of artwork pops up as a background about five minutes into episode ten, The Bridge. (A story about how evil scientists are using science for evil.)

Here’s BioWare’s concept art for Mass Effect 3:

And here’s the moment from SHIELD:

How on Earth anyone ever spotted it, I’m not sure. This must be a human fitted with an advanced version of that YouTube technology that lets them recognise if a video is copyrighted content. Which would make him a far more interesting concept than anything that’s appeared in eleven episodes of Agents Of SHIELD.

You may argue that I’m only writing this story so I can vent about how bad SHIELD is. You’d be right. I’m going to carry on for a bit.

Everyone speaks either in exposition, or failed attempts at “pithy”. The core team is made of some of the most unpleasant people imaginable – sneering, gormless or impossibly naive. It’s absolutely impossible for the show to generate any notion of tension or peril, since the only sensible reaction is to desperately hope any or all of them get captured and zapped into evil science juice. Every time an enemy fires a gun at any of the main cast, you’ll find yourself thinking, “Damn! Missed!”

You’ve got two non-evil scientists who live with the constant moral nightmare that at any moment they may do a science that is evil, while talking to each other as if it’s the first time they’ve ever encountered a human. You’ve got Min-Na Wen monstrously wasted, and seemingly asleep at all points. Although she’s positively vibrant compared to human coma Grand Ward, played by Brett Dalton. And there’s Faith… I mean Echo… No wait, I mean Skye.

Pointlessly flailing around in the middle of these zombies is poor Clark Gregg as Coulson, who DIED! DID YOU HEAR THAT HE DIED?! AREN’T YOU INTRIGUED THAT HE DIED?!?!?! No, no Jed Whedon, I’m not. I’m not intrigued, because you forgot that not saying something isn’t the same as making something interesting.

Each week they defiantly refuse to engage in anything relating to super heroes, but instead agonisingly flog the dreary horse of Iron Man 3′s least interesting aspect, Extremis. Somehow eleven episodes in they’re still blathering on about this generic nothingness of “super soldiers” that never appear to be quite that super, with only a brief distraction as they were seemingly forced to work in some connection to Thor 2 for an episode. Which they approached by turning it into a story about evil scientists.

But worst of all, in a time when government mistrust is at its highest, the show’s core message throughout has been: trust the powerful, invisible government against the interests of your own personal freedoms. It’s just bewildering how heavily this message is hammered each episode, as characters quickly learn that rebelling against the instructions of the rich and powerful only brings you harm, and that trusting them and doing as your told is the only Right Way. It’s not only massively creepy – like some sort of McCarthy-era propaganda – but woefully out of touch with public sentiment.

So, er, yeah – videogames! Quite why a piece of Mass Effect 3 concept art appeared as a backdrop in an episode is not yet known. So far BioWare have joked about it:


Whether EA are feeling so jovial is perhaps something we’ll learn soon. Of course, they could have given Disney/ABC permission without telling BioWare first. Who knows? All I know is I feel better for venting.

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153 Comments »

Top comments

  1. RedViv says:

    With this turducken, the emphasis is very much on the first four letters.

  1. jumblesale says:

    But do you like it John?

  2. maicus says:

    I want to know what sport they are playing in that scene. Do both teams get a digger? Or is it asymmetric? Are the other team trying to knock it over from the side? What’s the score?

    • Optimaximal says:

      Maybe the evil science being scienced in that episode is the type where they investigate how the removal of playing fields from schools is affecting the youth health statistics.

      Yes, the bad guy was basically Gillian McKeith!

    • Llewyn says:

      Going from that single screengrab I have to assume that there is a large ramp somewhere behind the goal to the left.

    • benjamin says:

      The good super solider is showing us how strong he is by pushing the digger across a field. The other people in the photo are doing normal training.

      I know it’s bad but I kind of like it anyway.

    • Ergates_Antius says:

      What I particularly liked about that episode was the other people on the sports field, were just calming warming up and watching the guy pushing the digger, rather than yelling “WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING? Are you INSANE? You’re totally ruining our football pitch! Are you so utterly stupid you thought that tearing 2 massive great ruts through the middle of a sports field would be an OK thing to do? Could you not find somewhere else to do that rather than RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF OUR FOOTBALL PITCH”

      • LionsPhil says:

        Perhaps they were too busy being shocked and appalled at how badly the scene they were in was composited together, given this is the 21st century and they presumably have some kind of special effects budget beyond the price of a cheeseburger.

  3. Doozerpindan says:

    I agree that some of the characters have all the personality of a cardboard box (May & Ward) while not being nearly as 3 dimensional, I do like the show. Though, yes, I do wish they’d hurry up and start introducing super heroes already.

    That said, just remember this; it could always be worse, it could be Stargate: Universe.

  4. Alistair Hutton says:

    If you think the message of the show is “trust the powerful, invisible government against the interests of your own personal freedoms” then you’ve been watching with hate blinders on.

    Sure the through line of the show is about “The System” but there’s absolutely no way on mother flippin’ earth that the message is “Trust The System”.

    • Doozerpindan says:

      I’d have to agree. Especially when it shows the system completely dicking over their own agents and such, it’s not the kind of thing that engenders trust imho.

    • John Walker says:

      Have you any evidence for this? Because so far that’s been the conclusion of every episode, bar the unexplained gibberish about Coulson’s death.

      • Doozerpindan says:

        Blatantly lying to Coulson and sending his agents on a suicide mission then doing sod all to help them out wasn’t enough? How about the revelation of HOW they brought Coulson back and, rather than tell him, they screwed with his memories and lied to him for months.

        • Cinek says:

          Don’t judge the story from a first two lines. I’m quite sure eventually message still will be “trust the system” and Coulson will keep on his service for a good of the most glorious nation of all – teaching you a lesson that no matter what US government does to you – it’s justified and you should comply.

        • bit_crusherrr says:

          Can you tell me which episode they reveal how Coulson comes back? (Or just tell me in comments) I stopped watching after a few weeks because it’s fucking awful but that’s one bit of info I wanted to know.

          • Cinek says:

            They do quite a bit in the last week’s episode (the most recent one).

          • Psykhe says:

            Stopped watching the show after 2 episodes, but I bet on some variation of “He’s a robot.”.

          • JoeX111 says:

            It’s in the most recent episode, “A Magical Place.” But don’t get too excited. For all their hand-waving and exposition vomiting, they really don’t explain much other than “the highly suspicious heavenly resurrection was not what it seemed.”

          • RProxyOnly says:

            Psykhe, nah it didn’t work out that way.. but I do agree, pretty much all of the community, myself included, thought he’d be an LMD.

      • ukpanik says:

        “Because so far that’s been the conclusion of every episode”

        Why are you watching every episode of a show you hate? Dummy.

      • Alistair Hutton says:

        The team, as assembled, is a group of outsiders, loners and rookies- all people either barely touched by “The System” or openly contemptuous of it. As a progression, in the episodes we have seen so far on UK telly the leader of the group -the only one who is truly part of the system – goes from implicitly trusting “The System”‘s story about himself to profoundly distrusting the story of his death and resurrection to the point where it is causing him psychological trauma. The inclusion of “Did I fall asleep”, “Only for a little while” is, if nothing else makes any affect on you, a massive, massive AWOOGA warning that shit is bad.

        The entire creation of the team by Fury seems deliberately setup to put it as far outside the control of regular SHIELD as possible. Almost as if he wants a team operating outside the bounds of SHIELD in case “The System” itself cannot be trusted.

        • RaveTurned says:

          Well, the “Did I fall asleep”, “Only for a little while” will only click with Dollhouse fans. Not one of Whedon’s biggest successes in terms of ratings, and probably makes up a small percentage of viewers.

          That said, those warning lights should have already been going from one of the earliest scenes of the first episode. After Coulson is briefed by Maria Hill, she and the scientist dude looking after him have an exchange along the lines of “Of course, he can never know what *really* happened”. Not exactly subtle.

          • Alistair Hutton says:

            Very true, but given the avalanche of massively obvious stuff that you’d have to ignore to think the show was uncritically endorsing “The System” I decided to go with a different tack and use the subtle Easter Egg-like wanky reference to another show as my example of the incredible obviousness that the show isn’t uncritically endorsing “The System”.

      • Paul C says:

        True, Coulson keeps saying “I trust the system”, but it seems to me that the series is showing very clearly that he shouldn’t, and his willingness to go back into the brain machine in the most recent episode suggests that he’s starting to realise that.

        I’m expecting that thread of the show to dovetail with the “freedom-vs-fear” angle that the Captain America 2 trailer is pushing, with the SHIELD Bus splintering off into its own A-Team-type adventures for season 2, if it ever gets renewed.

        • Cinek says:

          “series is showing very clearly that he shouldn’t” – one example please. As far as I see it – all that’s shown is a fact that System cares about fate of majority, while Coulson and his team cares about fate of individuals, sometimes risking major operations in order to get it sorted. From a perspective of a person who is sympathetic to them – it might be good, but objectively – system is always right in the end. The fact that they manage to get their stuff done without interrupting any huge operations that Shield does is next to miraculous luck. Also keep in mind that sometimes System does use major plot characters to get things done in an unconventional way without risking much while making characters think they do something “out of the box” (see: mission that both Fitz and Ward had to disable some odd device) to increase their effectiveness.

          • JoeX111 says:

            I don’t think they sent Fitz and Ward in knowing Coulson would devise some way to bring them home. It was quite clearly a suicide mission with no exfil, a fact Victoria Hand declined to tell Coulson until his team hacked their system and found out for him. He was willing to accept the “you’re on a need to know basis and you don’t need to know” company line until he learned the truth.

      • Alistair Hutton says:

        I now feel fully vindicated.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Could’ve fooled me.

    • Josh W says:

      The thing is, they don’t start with a group of insiders and slowly make them distrust the situation, this is not deus ex!

      Instead they start with a clearly defined rebel character doing something analogous to real world rebel politics and have her give up her principles and conform, so that they can do their job of protecting people from secrets they can’t handle.

      Even if they later go to an alternative kind of rebellion, they’ve already broken their links to the real world stuff, as part of the moral of an episode even, and focused instead on secret spies.

      If you think about it, although they are probably just doing it to clear out writing space, they are still trying to take the obvious enemy; legally cloaked and protected dubious corporate and state security services seeking ever greater control, and deny the methods of fighting it. By moving into fantasy their political element becomes totally useless, and they still have leftover commentary denegrating real world approaches, that’s assuming it doesn’t take a “fight them with their own tools” stance, alias “the solution to a bad guy with a spy force is a good guy with a spy force”.

      They’re going to have to pull a serious climb to get anywhere near back to interesting.

  5. RedViv says:

    When Hasselhoff’s SHIELD is more interesting than yours, you have a real problem.

  6. Cinek says:

    Marvel’s Agents Of SHIELD is a classical example of modern-day propaganda machine.

    Those who lived in Central or Eastern Europe during communism era remember how that thing worked to brainwash people – it should be quite easy to spot similarities. Both in how storylines and characters develop.

    Now a new series got released that also got similar propaganda smell – Intelligence. I seen just one episode so far – it’s not as bad as Shield in terms of blunt propaganda, but we’ll see how it develops.

    In either case – I’m slowly getting sick of how US mass-media try to show secret service as an angles of god and almost noone in US can see that as a problem.
    How about some truth for a change?

    • Grygus says:

      It is only propaganda in the most subversive way. To take away from Agents of SHIELD that government is awesome and trustworthy pretty much requires you to come in assuming that’s what it’s about and ignoring every evidence to the contrary, because it’s the opposite thing. I’m not claiming that the show is awesome or above criticism, but this particular criticism isn’t legitimate.

    • vitaminTcomplex says:

      “How about some truth for a change?”

      It’s interesting that you cite Intelligence as pro-government propaganda when Person Of Interest airs on that same network exactly twenty-four hours later. Considering how that show almost presciently described the NSA’s ubiquitous spying programs *before* the Snowden leak and how government authority figures from the NYPD to city government to the CIA are shown as corrupt, I’m not sure I can buy CBS programming as being part of a mass-media brainwashing.

  7. DrScuttles says:

    You may argue that I’m only writing this story so I can vent about how bad SHIELD is.

    There are times when RPS must make a stand slightly outside of its traditional remit.
    For some reason I keep watching the damn show, perhaps because I secretly hate myself, resulting in an emotional response equivalent to a shrug at the end of each episode. Somehow they even managed to make The Reveal uninteresting.

    • dE says:

      I just wish someone had done the same for Torchwood, when it crossed oceans. Can I rant about that instead? It was a cheesy series to begin with. Picking up one of the cheesy but awesome characters from Doctor Who and turning it into its own series. And it was cheesy as hell but entertaining. It gave the characters multiple facets, some were a living tragedy burdened by immortality, others were just trying to make due with everyday life when it pales in comparison to the wonder and adventure of working with Jack. It got a bit darker than Doctor Who, less kid friendly and that was fine.
      Then it ended. And was picked up again and crossed the oceans from the UK to the US. Suddenly the immortal Jack wasn’t immortal anymore and he made up for that by being more gay (and certainly less inter-species than he was before)? What the hell. They took away his special powers, they took away his entire character and history and henceforth Jack was now based around the idea of “look how flamboyantly gay I am, oh snap”. From a very open minded future man that was embracing all sexes, all races because those things simply weren’t important to him anymore, to – hey I’m gay, look at me yay, can you see me US of A? An entire swath of character development reduced to sexuality. Was it because the US producers thought they’d use it for shock value in the US or something? Seriously, why?
      Other characters were killed outright or suddenly turned into Domina Manslaughter. The new characters didn’t help either. There was blonde damsel in permanent distress that had zero redeeming character traits and then there was the token black guy. What did he do? He was black, that’s about how far the writers went with him. And instead of going about it all adventure like, diving head first into danger because of the joy it may bring, they became super gritty and grimy and did proper CSI Investigation, acting like Agents of some bureau. It was turned into CSI: Those British Guys. Didn’t you have enough fucking CSI already? Did you really have to take a sci-fi series about aliens, weird and weird aliens and then translate it into the same old dreary 5 minutes in the future investigation nonsense? Did the world really need another series about agents spouting corny one liners during inappropiate situations?

      • DrScuttles says:

        Torchwood never really appealed to me. I remember watching about 3 episodes of the first series and being struck with the impression that it was mature in the way that an adolescent first using naughty swears is mature. Possibly it picked up after those first few episodes, and I recall Children of Earth being fairly well received?
        I did watch the SF Debris reviews of Miracle Day though and they pick up on many of the flaws you pointed out. Seemed like an interesting concept executed quite poorly.

        • dE says:

          Yeh, it wasn’t really mature in itself but rather in comparison to Peter Pan with his space-magic Sonic Fairywand (Doctor Who). It was more mature in that it took on some more serious themes and incorporated a bit more slice of life. And yeah, I think it’s generally accepted that it really did pick up pace near the end of the second season.

          /edit:
          I agree that the concept in itself sounded quite interesting. It’s an interesting question, is it not? When people are mortally wounded, forced to feel that pain, but just can’t die.

        • mattevansc3 says:

          Torchwood started to hit its stride a few episodes in once it progressed past the swearing, sex and shock tactics but those initial childish episodes ruined it for a lot of people. The fairies episode in the 1st season is for me one of the best stand alone sci-fi episodes put out by the UK and definitely Torchwood at its best. It stayed in that moral grey area and was more about hard choices than some ADHD space wizard waving his magic timey wimey wand to make things better.

      • molamolacolacake says:

        Thank you! This rant is most justified. I thought they had broken my heart after season 3, but then Miracle Day appeared on the scene. They made Jack even more unlikeable than he already kind of was outside of Doctor Who and I found myself no longer caring about him or Gwen. I never finished the season and I just shake my head sadly when I scroll past it in my Amazon Instant list. A shame, it felt like it was just hitting its stride in the middle of season 2.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        “An entire swath of character development reduced to sexuality.”

        That WAS his entire character, a space/time travelling penis. His very first lines were these creepy alllusions to the fact that anything was fair game, animal, mineral or vegetable.. all the while giving the doctor the ‘eye’.. needless to say that character, and hence anything it was involved in (return preformances, his own show) was of absolutely no interest to me.

        In fact the ONLY interesting turn to the char, as far as I’m concerned, was The Face of Bo storyline.. and by that time he wasn’t screwing anything.

        Anyway let’s hope the Reset of Doctor Who can get back on track.. I wonder how the direction will go now with Capaldi’s ‘first’ doctor now that it won’t be aiming itself at an audience of young American girl like it has been for the past couple of series.

  8. The Sombrero Kid says:

    “OMG I’ve had it with all this SJW Crap, I come here to read about videogames not tv shows, stop politicising everything john omg, i mean i agree agents of shield is terrible but that doesn’t mean you should be talking about it!”
    -something no one will say in the comments of this article.

  9. RProxyOnly says:

    “But worst of all, in a time when government mistrust is at its highest, the show’s core message throughout has been: trust the powerful, invisible government against the interests of your own personal freedoms.”

    This sort of ‘sponsored’ propaganda is all over American TV.

    Look at Continuum.. the core message of that show is, when the companies have finally declared open control (as opposed to just using the govs as puppets as they do now) and there is no democracy left, anyone fighting to take back the world for the people will be labled terrorists and enemies of the state and the full weight of the authoritarian structure will be loosed upon their head, and it’s that structure that is being portrayed as the good guys. Going by the political situation that has been brewing for the last 30 years, that is a future not very far away.

    I think these ‘stories’ are told to gauge the public reaction to such a situation… you know, to see if it’s time yet.

    Give it another 30 years.. and whoever it is who does it (be it government or private interests).. we’ll all be stamped, numbered and set in our own little pigeonhole.

    ..and I hope anyone reading this has seen enough over the past couple of years to finally realise that accusations of paranoia are utterly redundant.. Our worst paranoid nightmares are all ready happening..

    • frightlever says:

      Not disagreeing with you, but Continuum is Canadian.

    • Harlander says:

      Oh, God, Continuum.

      There’s a bit near the end of the second series where people who go into debt get mind-wiped and used as factory robots

      The revolutionary guy and his cadre come up and unplug them all, which proves fatal. The show obviously wants you to view this as evil – but they’d already been mindwiped so they were already personality-dead!

      • Spakkenkhrist says:

        I think that part of the show was supposed to show you how a story can be spun by the establishment/media to their advantage by being selective by the truth, I expect the main character wouldn’t have remembered it so much as a massacre if she had seen what viewers were shown. This show does seem to be about shades of grey, hardly pro corporate propaganda.

        • Harlander says:

          I think you’ve got the right of it. The show did seem to kind of jarringly shift from “these are the good guys and these are the bad guys” to “these are two groups of jerks”, and I can’t tell whether that jerky shift was intended or not.

    • jondare says:

      Sorry to start of with a attack, BUT ARE YOU STUPID? have you seen the same Shield/Continuum as i have? But shows are BLATANTLY setting up a whole “Welp, guess i’ve been fighting on the wrong side all this time” storyline.

      In shield, we have a team who is established outside of the normal Shield structure by a guy whose really big talent, aside from looking cool as ice (Fury), is being able to more or less predict the future. This rogue team consist of an ex-hacker, with little but contempt for the system, two scientists who really couldn’t care less, and just wants to help their buddies fight evil, two punchers who are getting more and more tired of being kept in the black, and lastly coulson, who has just had his entire worldview shaken by the revelation that “The System” might not always be that good, and that maybe not trusting it is a good idea.

      Now, Continuum. The ENTIRE PREMISE is that the terrorists are fighting the good fight, but using the wrong means, while keira is fighting the wrong fight, for, mostly, the right reasons, and at least in the right way. The entire show is clearly setting up for keira joining the remaining terrorists in a fight against the corps and probably also the freelancers. Hell, we already saw the two police people join them, because their boss went too far in funding CPS.

      Again, how is ANY of that “Pro NSA propaganda”? If anything its the opposite.

      • Spakkenkhrist says:

        I AM GOING TO BE RUDE IN CAPS AS IT MAKES ME FEEL SPECIAL.

        • RProxyOnly says:

          Heh. :)

          TBH I personally can’t really complain about this, I’m more than guilty of it myself, so as far as it stand I don’t have a complaining leg to stand on.

          However his point about a big ol’ switcheoo I absolutely don’t aree with that, I’ve been seeing glimpses of this kind of direction in a lot of (mostly) Amercian tv long before this.. and the storylines are pretty much what they are taken on face value.

      • RProxyOnly says:

        “Again, how is ANY of that “Pro NSA propaganda”?”

        I’ve no idea.. I’ll try for an explaination if I ever mention the NSA directly.. but as it stands they are hardly the worst organisation in the world. The everyday running of the world involves far worst actions behind the scenes than they’ve ever been accused of.

        Official intelligence agencies are second place to the real horrors of the world.

    • vitaminTcomplex says:

      I see a couple people making this argument, but it *really* depends on what kinds of shows you watch. Right now, Person Of Interest is the standard-bearer for the exact opposite point – the government can’t be trusted. Off the top of my head, Burn Notice played the can’t-trust-the-Feds angle, Alias went back and forth with it, both versions of La Femme Nikita did it and it was virtually the whole point of the entire nine year run of X-Files. ‘Trust No One’ was even a tagline to that one.

      If you’re watching 24 and Numb3rs and all the versions of Law & Order, sure, it’s pro-government, but it’s not hard to find shows that take the opposing perspective.

  10. Rao Dao Zao says:

    Reads like a 7/10 to me, I’ll get the GOTYE.

  11. Steven Hutton says:

    An excuse to join in hating Agents of Shield? Monday is saved!

    How is it that a show that costs a reported hundred quadrillion pounds per episode is so technically inept? Every scene is lit like a cheap catalogue shoot. Every fight is edited in the laziest simplest way imaginable cut, kick, cut, punch, cut, kick again. A fight is meant to be a little story, they’re meant to flow. They’re not just a series of disconnected actions. I know that there are people in that cast who can handle a fight scene and make it look good. It’s painful to see them so utterly wasted.

    Lets see what a Super-Soldier fight scene looks like in a show with roughly 10% of the budget of Agents of shield: http://youtu.be/nj3JLlxiVlU

    That stamp to back of the knee at the midpoint is cooler than anything Agents’ has ever done. This is not a surprise of course, Arrow has slowly evolved from typical CW garbage at the start of season on to one of the best, most confident action shows on TV. Arrow seems to get Superheroes in a way that Agents just doesn’t. It’s propulsive where Agents is tediously slow. Every character has a storyline, driven by their character, and every time those characters appear their storyline moves forwards. The result is that Agents got through less plot in eleven episodes than Arrow gets through in eleven minutes.

    Crucially, Arrow isn’t ashamed of being part of the DC universe and manages to mine the impossible breadth of the comics source material for interesting character conflict and of course entertaining fanservice villains. Appearances by The Huntress, Deadshot and of course Manu Bennet as Deathstroke have been series highlights. Managing to give the universe a sense of size and scope while also serving the stories of the central cast.

    I could go on and on about this. About how the characters in Shield haven’t been developed at all after ELEVEN episodes! Seriously if anyone can answer me these simple, basic questions about Simmons I’ll recant my whole position.

    What does she want? What does she need? What is she willing to do to get what she wants? Why is she a Shield Agent rather than some other science job?

    And on: Why is the blocking so bad? I mean, this is like, the thing you learn before you learn tv 101. But you don’t just have your characters all stand in a line you’re making a fucking poster. The reason being that it looks ridiculous because no one ever does that. Ever. You can do it in slow motion if and only if you’re Reservoir Dogs.

    And on: Why is this show so dull! Nothing happens! There’re no stakes, the plot never moves forward. Even the Coulson reveal was a nothing reveal. They essentially revealed that he had been dead and returned to life. Which we knew. We still have no idea, how, why or crucially what they actually did to him. Eleven episodes, go to hell.

    And on and on and on: Where’s the sense of fun that makes the Marvel movies actually work? Why does a show this expensive feel so cheap? Why is previously unflappable, understated Coulson always yelling? Why is Agent Grit Rockhard, Beef Manslab, Slab Meatchunk, Chest Chesterton, Scowl Borington even in this show? Why, for gods sake, in 2014 are we still treating “hacking” like computer magic? How about some cool real life hacks? Why is the pro privacy group mentioned in the pilot seemingly no longer around? Don’t they care that Shield is monitoring every phone, camera and e-mail? Well, I guess we don’t care about that in real life so why would they care on TV? (Person of Interest is a better show than anything else you’re watching right now). Why are Shield so incompetent? They have thousands of Agents but the big idea that lets rogue hacker Skye outsmart them is “follow the money trail” and the money trail isn’t even complicated it’s just a bank transfer from the guy they’re investigating direct to the main villain. Shield couldn’t do that level of detective work? *I* could’ve managed that!

    Here’s a two minute clip from the Man from Uncle to close. http://youtu.be/22MXmzSRHcE

    A spy show should should feel like that.

  12. Jackablade says:

    I’ve still got a little bit of hope that once they’ve worked through that stinky turkey there might be some kind of moderately tasty duck inside. I keep finding myself tuning in to it each week despite how terribly inept it all is.

    The new Captain America looks to be finally pushing SHIELD into it’s proper amoral and ruthless position, so it seems reasonable to suspect that Agents will follow suit.

    • RedViv says:

      With this turducken, the emphasis is very much on the first four letters.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      ABC wont even let them shoot people (night night gun) I hardly think they’re going to go for the more nuanced moral ambiguity of ruthlessness in pursuit of public safety.

      • Jackablade says:

        It doesn’t really need to be any more violent or nuanced than the X-Files. It just needs to make some effort to try to be as entertaining as that show was.

        • Koozer says:

          Nothing beats the X-Files. It is with this knowledge that I could actually extract some entertainment from Fringe, and indeed Agents of Shield.

  13. Kandon Arc says:

    Given their own propensity for stealing artwork and passing it off as their own, I’m not sure Bioware can get too on their high horse over this, especially as this is a lot more subtle than the end of ME3: http://social.bioware.com/forum/Mass-Effect-3/Mass-Effect-3-Story-and-Campaign-Discussion-Spoilers-Allowed/10552057-1.html

  14. sleepisthebrotherofdeath says:

    I know I’m in the minority, but personally I’ve found everything I’ve seen of Whedon’s work to be utter tripe. Geek cool in the worst sense of taste. Even the Avengers movie I found to be random snarky chattering punctuated by a huge fight scene.
    Fully expect to be shot down now….

    • welverin says:

      I don’t agree entirely, but you’re point is not unfounded.

      A lot of his popularity seems to be based ina ‘Lucas let me down, so I need someone else to idolize’ mentality.

    • Werthead says:

      Depends. BUFFY was great when it was good, but terrible when it wasn’t, which was for quite large chunks of time (especially after the end of Season 3). ANGEL was a lot better, but then Whedon had relatively little to do with that show after launch. FIREFLY was great, but – a point oft-forgotten – Tim Minear did a lot of the grunt work on that show, more than Whedon who was juggling three shows simultaneously at the same time. DOLLHOUSE wasn’t very good. THE AVENGERS was okay, but built off five other movies that came before it. DR. HORRIBLE was pretty good, to be fair. CABIN IN THE WOODS was also pretty good (if a bit smug with itself, and Whedon didn’t direct it).

      From that, I put forward the suggestion that Joss Whedon is sometimes good, sometimes bad and sometimes mediocre.

      However, what does seem pretty certian is that Joss Whedon had sweet FA to do with AGENTS OF SHIELD after the pilot episode, as he was called away to do pre-production on AVENGERS 2 and help out on THOR 2 as well. The show is in the day-to-day hands of Whedon’s wife and sister-in-law, whose own track records have been patchy (basically DR. HORRIBLE, SPARTACUS, DOLLHOUSE and a few other bits and pieces).

  15. RiffRaff says:

    The real answer is that they didn’t steal anything. bioware let them because they are secretly involved in a partnership with marvel to make an agents of shield videogame, which will be now be part of the mass effect universe. That’s also the reason there are no superheroes on the show, because it takes place in a different universe and therefore doesn’t ruin the movies.

  16. RaveTurned says:

    So is this a story about how a TV show used a game’s concept art, possibly without permission? Or is it an opinion piece about that TV show? I’m a little confused.

    Anyone want to talk about the idea of industry giant EA suing industry-spanning super-giant Disney for copyright infringement? I’m sure that’ll go well for all parties involved.

    • Steven Hutton says:

      It seems the article is exactly what it appears to be. A thinly veiled excuse for John to unload on T.V. that, at best, is a bit of a disappointment.

      There was a time when each new season of american tv would trigger John to write a brief round up of the new and returning shows on his personal site. (This is how I discovered such delights as Community and Chuck). That seems to have fallen by the wayside.

      I don’t think that this heralds a turn by RPS into television criticism. Although if it is I’d like to pitch a series of five hundred word articles entitled Why Agents of Shield Sucks: An essay in 36 parts.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        I’d actually like RPS to do TV critiques. Lets be honest here gaming got boring just like UK politics. There’s nothing to differentiate between the companies, they’ve kept true to their routes and jokes about EA are as clichéd as jokes about the tories. How many rants can we have at microtranscations? I look forward to RPS branching out and making non gaming articles a mainstay.

        • Ur-Quan says:

          Oh god please anything but this.
          There are already billions of tv/movie reviewers out there and they are increasing at an alarming rate.
          Hell, I’m still waiting for the day someone starts reviewing bad movie reviews…

          Please don’t turn RPS into ANOTHER one of those sites.

      • RaveTurned says:

        A personal blog seems like the ideal place for this kind of venting. I hate to take the “What’s this other thing doing in my games journalism??” position, because so much of the content RPS produces that differs from the more mainstream sites is interesting and contextually relevant to gaming at large. Unfortunately I don’t think the extended ranting in this article fits that bill.

        Of course that could just be because I still like the show in spite of its numerous flaws, and hope that it’ll improve in the second half of the season and maybe beyond. This probably makes me a terrible person of some kind, so *shrug*.

    • welverin says:

      I can only assume you didn’t read the whole article because this is smack dab in the middle of it:
      “You may argue that I’m only writing this story so I can vent about how bad SHIELD is. You’d be right. I’m going to carry on for a bit.”

  17. meepmeep says:

    It’s good to see that the ‘Welcome Break’ school of architecture has a place in our future.

  18. ramirezfm says:

    Are the characters worse than in Homeland? Every time I see that whiny crazy b**** Carrie I’m all “JUST PLEASE KILL HER ALREADY!!!”. This show can’t be THAT bad.

  19. bill says:

    I haven’t watched a second of Agents of Shield. But I don’t understand how it couldn’t be awesome. It should have all the ingredients of awesome.

    • skyturnedred says:

      The number one thing that made the movies successful was left out of the TV show – superheroes.

      • bill says:

        meh, superheroes are everywhere, We don’t exactly have a shortage. Why doesn’t it have great characters, dialogue, etc…?

        • Grygus says:

          Dialogue is hit-and-miss; sometimes it’s very good, but other times it feels like someone trying to impersonate Joss Whedon and failing. I really feel that this is the show’s central flaw.

          Characters may or may not be great; the trickle of information about them is so slow that going into season two it’s hard to say. Each one has some interesting aspect, they’re all differentiated and have some sort of conflict going on, and none of them feel like audience pandering (aside from everyone being super attractive) but at least some people here are expecting to have a strong handle on them after the first season, which I don’t feel was given for any of them, so if you’re not willing to be very patient this show will have been very disappointing to this point. It may be that this will be a show that reads a lot better with a binge watch on Netflix after it’s over, or it may be that it never will go anywhere and these vague cutouts are all we will ever get.

          I think it’s the uncertainty that pisses people off; the show isn’t actually bad enough to rate a rant about how bad it is. There are much worse things on television. The problem is that it is about 75% good and the other 25% is inexplicable, like if you understand enough about television to do all THESE things right, then why would you do THOSE things? It’s like the end of Mass Effect 3, coincidentally; ME3′s ending isn’t the worst ending in video games – it’s not even the worst ending to a BioWare game – but it’s a horrible ending on the back of an excellent game, so it’s twice as disappointing when it comes.

  20. Noviere says:

    Should we call the police John? You know, so they can rescue you from the person holding a gun to your head and making you watch this TV show you hate?

  21. bill says:

    (not having watched Agents of Shield) I rather enjoyed Arrow, although it was nothing mindblowing.

    I can’t say I agree about including the superhero elements though. They were fun geek-out moments, but I preferred the more grounded version of the show. I’d give them Deathstroke (which they’ve been building up to for ages), but introducing loads of other superhero powered characters feels like it dilutes the concept to me.

    But I seem to be in the minority on that.

    As someone who HASN’T watched AoS, keeping the superhero elements out sounds much more interesting. Sticking in lots of superheroes is something you can’t go back from, and sounds like every other superhero show. Keeping them out sounds appealing in the way Star Wars: Republic Commando was for avoiding being a jedi yet again.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Obligatory reverent comment that Republic Commando was the best thing to come out of the Star Wars franchise. Expression of desire to play it again despite that goddamn ending; lamentation that it was never really built upon further.

      • Thirith says:

        I liked the concept of Republic Commando, but in practice I didn’t particularly enjoy the game itself. I’m a KOTOR 2 man all the way – IMO the most interesting thing Star Wars has done in a good long while, and probably the best use of Jedi.

      • DatonKallandor says:

        And even if we got another Republic Commando now, they’d screw it up, because the writer left Star Wars. If you’re going to criticize the God (Lucas) appointed “good guy faction” you better do it subtly is the lesson from that.

    • Grygus says:

      I’ve seen some of both shows (but all of neither.) Arrow actually has a lot in common with Agents of SHIELD, with the main differences being that its dialogue is trying to sound somewhat realistic rather than straining to be super cool, and it has characters with backstories that we’re actually being shown rather than endlessly hinted at.

  22. Tei says:

    I don’t see the problem here, if they have taken this with permission from the artist.

    If anything, It make sense to copy from the best. Musicians learn and practice the classics. Painters study great creations. Nobody paint something complex like a steam engine by memory, people get photos of steam engines to learn about small details, it would be impossible to independently invent these details.

    Copying and creating new stuff by modification of stuff are normal on the world, only on the west we have made the act of creation of something “original” into something sacred.

    • SkittleDiddler says:

      If you can’t tell the difference between a musician using a famous piece of music as a training template and a television production company blatantly copying graphical assets from an entirely different medium, you probably shouldn’t be commenting on the subject.

      • Grygus says:

        I don’t really see it as a blatant copy; one doorway matches, mostly? That’s it? What am I missing?

        *Edit* Never mind, I looked at them side-by-side and I was being stupid.

  23. welverin says:

    “Each week they defiantly refuse to engage in anything relating to super heroes, but instead agonisingly flog the dreary horse of Iron Man 3′s least interesting aspect, Extremis.”

    There were an interesting aspects in Iron Man 3?

  24. hypercrisis says:

    I just want to point out that SHIELD isn’t supposed to be a government agency, and the brief moment where we had a government sanctioned agency it was run by one of the biggest supervillains on the planet and triggered several cataclysmic events.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      Oh come on. A non-governmental agency that flies around in Airforce Two dealing with (boring and poorly written) existential threats, made up out of soldiers and spooks?. Hmmm. So basically I’m to believe they’re Greenpeace meets Superheroes, except with the budget and tools of the NSA (which is portrayed as awesome, btw, because terrorism).

      No, just no. I can excuse you liking the show, but not excusing the show.

  25. Malys says:

    Well, since it has already been shown that most of Mass Effect 3′s concept (and in-game) art was ripped off already – I wonder where Bioware ripped it from.

  26. varangian says:

    >You may argue that I’m only writing this story so I can vent about how bad SHIELD is. You’d be right. I’m going to carry on for a bit.

    No, please, carry on as much as you like. A show this bad deserves all the kicking it can get, plus some bonus eyeball gouging for attaching the Joss Whedon name to it so that the foolish (e.g. me) were lured into watching it thinking it might have a decent touch of Buffy/Firefly/Dollhouse to it instead of being a dreary corporate blandfest.

    When you’re done feel free to move on to The Walking Dead. Not all bad, the setpiece zombies vs. humans are usually fun, but with a couple of exceptions you’d be happy to see most of the cast disappearing down a zombie’s gullet. It occurred to me the other day that I got more attached to the cartoony characters in Ep. 1 of the videogame than the flesh and blood ones on the TV.

  27. MrUnimport says:

    I’d be interested in hearing some explanation of what makes Agents of SHIELD pro-alphabet-agency propaganda as opposed to, say, XCOM, or any other representation of employees of The System doing their jobs.

  28. blimey says:

    Far too much hate for a middling show. Seeing so much hate spewed at it is kind of puzzling.

    • mpk says:

      I’ve been really confused by the level, volume, height and, indeed, depth of bile aimed at Agents of Shield. I can only imagine that because the Marvel movies have so far ranged from “Okay” to “OMGOMGOMGOMGBRILLO!” in quality that expectations were set high for the TV show, and the fact that is hasn’t lived up to those expectations has slightly disappointed some people.

      I figure that if you can make it through The Walking Dead series 2 without commiting an act of violence against someone’s person in retaliation for how terrible it was, you can get through anything. And whatever it is, Agents of Shield series 1 is nowhere near as bad as TWD s2 was.

    • derbefrier says:

      nah just typical nerd rage.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Wasted potential is a terrible thing.

  29. mpk says:

    … I kind of like Agents of Shield.

    It’s undemanding and simple, and so far doesn’t have a single original idea in its pretty little head. I can deal with that, because it’s a nice way to spend an hour before bed.

    I mean, if it’s not renewed for a second series, I won’t cry, but I’ll most likely keep watching til the end (although apparently it wont be back on British TV til March, because reasons). Obviously I won’t be downloading it after transmission on American TV because that could quite possibly be breaking some obscure copyright law and no one wants to do that, do they?

    • pepperfez says:

      It’s also so nice. Coulton’s #1 rule is “Work together”! And compared to other action series like the new Hawaii 5-0 and the assorted NCISs, nastiness and brutality are never made heroic. That makes it a lot easier to take as light, dumb fun.

    • drinniol says:

      It could turn out to be an amazing show (and it’s headed in the right direction after the weak initial episodes), but this is The Internet, where confirmation bias rules supreme. You’d never get the complainers to change their views.

  30. goettel says:

    Watch Almost Human if you need a fix of Whedonite dialog, even if it is Starsky & Hutch in 2048.

  31. dethtoll says:

    It’s funny you mention that whole “trust the government” thing — that’s the reason I stopped watching cheery fascist propaganda like NCIS, even if I liked the characters. It’s also why I skipped out on watching Person of Interest, though I’m regretting that now as the show seems to be going some genuinely weird, unexpected places.

    • Grey_Ghost says:

      Has Person of Interest ever been pro “Trust the Government”? The characters I most despise all seem to be government agents / officials.

  32. JamTheFab says:

    A of S is a great show. But it’s a spin off and as far as i know none of these agents other than maybe Coulson are in any Marvel comics. They do mention the Avengers as that’s the universe AoS is closest to.
    They can’t fight Hydra or anyone because that would cause a paradox in the Marvel time line. So they have to fight made up Centipede.
    Also since it’s a TV show. Doing Avengers like stunts with “not really super” super heroes wouldn’t work when you want to make 20 episodes a year of that.
    The agents do what they do. Shield is not a 2nd rate Avengers. Hawk Eye and Black Widow are Agents and don’t have any real powers.

    For the first Marvels universe TV series brought to us thanks to Disney for buying Marvel. It’s pretty okay. It’s just enough future tech and the Bus is cool. I love Coulson. He’s the teams father figure. He’s a kind man who can throw a good punch when he needs to.

    ABC did a show, No Ordinary Family, where the family had super powers, the dad was the guy from The Shield/Thing from Fantastic 4. But no one watched it.

  33. Contrafibularity says:

    I’m glad I possess more taste than a toilet roll. I gave up on this after “only” 5 episodes, thankfully, when I noticed it trying to discredit Anonymous, in favour of teh status quo, in myriad not very subtle ways in basically every single episode. All of that in addition to being the worst thing since Lost. Quite an achievement.

  34. Grey_Ghost says:

    Nice job insulting anyone who may have a differing opinion about it in your first sentence no less. Way to go Bill O’Reilly John Walker! Though I’d feel the same way about anyone who views the Last Airbender movie in a positive light.

    The show is okay… not my favorite by any means, but I have no hate and/or rage towards it. Certainly has had it’s cringe worthy moments, like the uncomfortably bad acting of that “Scorch” character.

  35. Apologised says:

    I think the real problem with Agents of SHIELD, aside from the worst writing Whedon has ever done, is the fact that this show has NOTHING to do with Marvel apart from the occaisional namedrops in it. We don’t want to watch a show about teen secret agents beating up noname characters, we have enough shows about that already. What we wanted was SHIELD agents interacting with as of yet unfound Marvel properties.

    The CLOSEST we’ve gotten to that is the origin story for Graviton in episode 3 and some namedrops to Cap and Thor.

    Thank god we’re getting a TV show of Heroes for Hire as well as this. At least there you can do the same thing and get away with it because you already HAVE your superheroes, they’re Luke Cage and motherf***ing Iron Fist. You want origin stories how about this for one, Danny beat a dragon to death with his bare hands and ATE IT’S FUCKING HEART. NEVER MIND BITTEN BY A RADIOACTIVE WALRUS* OR HAD A RADIOACTIVE WALL FALL ON YOU** OR DECIDING TO GO ON A SPACE ADVENTURE WITH YOUR 10 YEARS YOUR SENIOR BOYFRIEND WHO YOU MET BECAUSE YOUR PARENTS HIRED HIM TO TEACH YOU MATH WHEN YOU WERE 12*** NO. IRON FIST BEAT A DRAGON TO DEATH AND ATE IT’S HEART AS AN ORIGIN STORY.

    Ahem. Sorry.

    Then there’s Luke “Power Man” Cage, who basically had someone go up to him in prison and go “Pssst, hey kid, wanna have bulletproof skin?” to which he replied “Sure!”
    He then went on to be probably Marvel’s first black businessman by founding Heroes for Hire.

    *yeah thats a thing
    **Also a thing
    ***Possibly no longer a thing, but damn the original story behind how Reed and Susan Storm met was all kinds of creepy.

  36. RAKotick says:

    Not to offend anyone who likes this horrible show but it’s total propaganda (probably) based out of COINTELPRO, an illegal US government programme once set up to infiltrate, attack and discredit the civil rights movement, communists or socialist organisations, and of course more recently Anonymous. Which is kind of hilarious, and absurd, but also true.

    So if you actually watch this crap just don’t act surprised if by the end of series 2 you will have grown some fundamentalist reflexes, have an inexplicable urge to donate money to the US Chamber of Commerce and think that a Pentagon is a thing which protects you from all the secrets that will kill you and everyone you love.

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