Entirely spoiler-free. I've seen the second episode, but do not talk about its plot at all.
I wouldn't call myself a huge Joss Whedon fan. I've enjoyed some his shows, because his style of writing worked for those shows. His faux-hip banter, snark and dry wit. His devil-may-care badasses.
That all worked on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for instance, because it was a cast of teens eventually becoming twenty-somethings. I enjoyed a few seasons of Buffy. Three. Five. And Six.
I never really got into Angel. It seemed superfluous to Buffy. Unnecessary.
Firefly was Whedon's pinnacle. His signature flourishes worked with his cast of space rebels. The mixing of western cadences (along with a smattering of Chinese) into his usual dialogue rhythms worked very well in this milieu.
I never enjoyed Dollhouse. Stuck with it for about five episodes. The premise wasn't new and I didn't think Whedon was doing anything particularly unique or interesting with it.
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not the right television venue for Whedon's style. His dialogue choices work with none of the characters. I can appreciate Coulson's flippant attitude, if he weren't a top-level government agent. Mostly, he comes off as more of an idiot than a capable leader and decision-maker. We're either to believe he's hoodwinked into making poor decisions, or he's making those poor decisions as team building exercises. Either way, I'd knock him back down to a security level one, because he's making dumb choices no matter which way you slice it.
I'm so tired of Whedon's penchant for the Dushku-archetype. (Can you pick her out in the cast photo above? I bet you can.) The only show of his that didn't have the Dushku-archetype was Firefly, and that might be the reason I enjoy that show far above all his other shows. Usually Whedon just gets Eliza Dushku herself to play the archetype. In S.H.I.E.L.D. he has brought in Chloe Bennet, who rolled right out of the Dushku cloning plant in time for casting. Chloe's character, the hip, snarky, pseudo-anarchist Skye is the most annoying character on the show. Entirely unnecessary. She's supposed to be an expert hacker, but is mostly clueless about everything. We've yet to see her do any actual hacking, though she and the other characters talk about it a lot.
The two sciencey-types (see, I can do Whedon-speak too), they might as well just be speaking some made up language. All they have done for two full episodes is spew an endless stream of meaningless techno-babble. Usually at each other, because they're supposed to like each other, thus they engage in a lot of school yard-style bickering, because that's the level to which a Whedon-romance rises. Their relationship seems to be based around who can string together the most nonsense into a single sentence.
The only character who has genre-relevant attitude is ninja Melinda May, but then mainly because she's the strong silent type. An archetype for this genre, but without the Whedon twist, which is what makes her bearable, when she really shouldn't be. The only sanity in a pool of crazy.
The series could still improve. But right now, it's sitting somewhere between Dollhouse and Angel on the Whedon-scale.
Season 1, Episode 1 Grade: B-
Season 1, Episode 2 Grade: C+
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