I loved the “Avengers” movie series, so I was seriously excited when they decided to star Agent Coulson in his own TV series. The first three episodes of “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” have been pretty disappointing. The show basically runs like “Law and Order” with supernatural powers. What I mean is that there is no metaplot that gets advanced each week. Each week the characters take on an entirely new bad guy, but viewers could tune in or out any given week without missing any important information they might need for the next episode.
There is a very delicate balance to maintain here. Some shows, like LOST do a little too much metaplot, and if you miss a week, you can never catch back up again. Others, like the various “Law and Order” series, do very little. It is why “Law and Order” makes for a great show to run in marathons all afternoon long, but they don’t do as well in prime time.
Co-creator Joss Whedon has proven his ability to master the metaplot with series such as Dollhouse and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In both of these previous series, viewers would miss important information if they skipped an episode. However, they would not miss so much important information that they could not catch up again. So far his genius is not shining through in this series.
I can only hope that this is because the series is new, and he did not know if he would get a series at all beyond a few episodes. His previous show, “Firefly,” immediately had a lot of different metaplots that did not get written to a conclusion because Fox canceled his show. I sincerely hope that this has not made him gun shy. While his focus on metaplots in “Firefly” may have contributed to fans’ confusion when Fox insisted on airing episodes out of order, it is also why there are still so many fans devoted to the show. It is why these fans demanded a movie to wrap up the short television series. It is why, in short, we are fans of Joss Whedon.
I had hoped that the text message that Skye received at the end of the first episode would become a metaplot. Her betrayal of her new teammates for her old friends seemed like it could create some interpersonal drama and become interesting. Instead it seems to have been dropped, and Skye acts as though she never had family nor friends before joining the team.
Looking forward to the October 15 episode, I hoped that a woman Coulson trained could become a long-term bad guy for them to focus more than one episode on. Instead, she was being externally controlled and was neutralized in one episode. If “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” doesn’t quickly come up with a metaplot to keep me tuning in every week, it will join “Law and Order” as a show I watch when I have nothing better to do instead of a show I tune in to watch every week.