I'm not going to lie to you. I watched the pilot of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and couldn't stop yawning. My roommate even fell asleep while we watched the second episode together. And after that, I pretty much gave up. My feelings were that Agent Coulson wasn't an interesting enough character to hold the show. We were being forced to like/relate to a hacker character, Skye, who was look a poor man's Willow Rosenberg. Melinda May was someone who had a, YAWN, "dark past" (or something) and Ward was nothing more than the hot guy. Fitz and Simmons were the only characters who felt very Whedon-y and in the best way possible. But, also, they didn't have much screen time. We even got really poorly done cameos from Maria Hill and Nick Fury (I get that Mr Jackson might be "too famous" for TV but Cobie Smulders is most definitely not--so we need to see her more). I discussed the show with one of my best friends, who said, "The dialogue and everything is just a little too on the nose." And she's right. I just didn't care about any of the characters and I didn't care about how Coulson came back to life. Also, everyone was too good at everything. There were never any stakes at any point in the first episode two episodes--even when their plane was crashing (and REALLY? the plane is already crashing and it's only the second episode).
Then, while working an overnight shift at work, I decided I should marathon the show. To be fair, I only decided this after I'd marathoned nearly every other show I needed to catch up on and watched a few movies on Netflix. Some of my Facebook friends had started saying how the show got a lot better. Some were saying it was typical of Whedon shows--starts off slow then takes off. I happen to disagree. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is my favoritest thing. It's a show that catches your attention immediately. The only thing that's rough those first two season are the effects and the monsters-of-the-week. I think it was the perfect mix of Joss and his wonderful cast. Angel, however, did start off really really rough then absolutely took off. Although, Angel took nearly a season and a half to really take off. Dollhouse (cue the hate) never really took off for me. The ony character that felt Joss to me was Topher (duh). I think the 2nd season was much stronger but I never really cared about the characters. ANYWAY, I feel like Agents of Shield is more like Angel. But, it's already picked up faster.
So, I still don't care about how or why Agent Coulson came back to life. I mean, this is the Marvel Universe. The only person who ever stayed dead was Bucky and, well...Winter Soldier. Jean Grey has come back to life more times than I can count (although, to be fair, she's still currently dead but then there's the time travel and my brain hurts). And yes, the movie universe is different but, still. Loki died at the end of Thor and then was just back without any real explanaition. And it was fine--I didn't need one. They're trying too hard to base the show in reality. They keep stressing how there aren't any telepaths (which is something they will, no doubt, discover is false)--as if telepaths are a crazier idea than space Gods who live Asgard. It's like when Scully still didn't quite believe aliens existed even after she was abducted by aliens in The X-Files. They need more supernatural villains/characters. So, now we'll get to what's good about the show...
Melinda May cut the crap and fully embraced her "dark past" (or whatever) and now fights. We got her story (something something about her saving agents and not riding a horse) and she got over it. Ever since, she's been a heavy hitter--which is great. She's become 897 times more interesting. They've stopped tyring to force feed us Skye (after the horrendous episode where she goes undercover and I couldn't stop rolling my eyes because everyone was too pretty and too perfect at everything). They've played up the mystery of Agent Coulson's death (I still don't care but I'm vaguely curious about it). They gave both Fitz and Simmons more screen time (I still have no idea how we're supposed to take their relationship--but they are both delightful characters and the episode where Simmons got that virus made me tear up). And Ward, well, he's still the hot guy but he's become slightly more of an actual person. It was also really great to see them visit The Hub and meet Victoria Hand. They need to do more things like that (even though that episode had the painful scene of Fitz being 'quirky' and getting a cart stuck in automatic doors--HE'S A GOD DAMNED SCIENTIST AND HE CAN'T OPERATE A STUPID PUSHCART). Victoria Hand will make a great reoccuring side character. I also wouldn't mind seeing Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford reprise their roles from Item 47.
The last five episodes were when the season completely picked up. I'm even caring about Skye more. They upped the action starting with the Thor: Dark World tie-in episode (which was in almost no way a tie-in and, fun fact, was directed by Commander William Riker from Star Trek: TNG). Which was great. These people live in a universe with Iron Man, Thor--a universe where even regular humans like Hawkeye and Black Widow exist and can hold their own against an army of alien invaders. So, these agents need to be able to hold their own as well. The mid-season finale was what really got me. We got someone on their side who had super powers--someone who was able to lift giant things and throw them. We also got to see May, Ward and Coulson fight against superpowered guys. In short: this show is worth your time. If you haven't started watching--you could watch the pilot and then skip to episode six. The cliffhanger they left us with in the latest episode actually has me really excited for what's to come on the show. I have faith in Joss and you should too.
Follow Ian on Twitter: @ianxcarlos