As a lot of shows are nearing their season’s (or series) end and some shows have just gotten started for the summer, I can’t help but reflect on two shows I’m currently watching: “Marvel’s Agents of Shield” and “Orphan Black” (which I’ve talked about before). AoS is soon to end its first season and OB is three episodes into its second season. While that second season is great so far, I’m going to be focusing on the first season alongside AoS’s.
I said it before, but OB got me interested from the very first episode and kept my attention despite minor nitpicks through its short season. The characters are fun, the dialogue is mostly well-written, and the overarching plot throws in twists, questions and answers. I consider the mysteries it builds as being better than a lot of those in “Alias,” and I loved Alias for the most part. If I had to pinpoint a show that OB equals for me in terms of catching and keeping my attention from basically the start, it’d have to be “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” That brings me to AoS, the newest Whedon-run show.
For me, part of what makes a show good is how that first season plays out. If the concept and characters don’t interest me within a few episodes, it makes it hard to stick with and enjoy. While the pilot for AoS started off promising with the miraculous return of Agent Coulson and making cute references to the Marvel Universe, the series quickly became hard for me to care about. The plots often felt dull, the characters didn’t seem to experience much growth, and the mysteries it tried to build got less intriguing as my interest in the show dwindled. I even considered dropping it several times, but I stuck with it to give it the benefit of the doubt. Thankfully, after the events of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier,” the show has picked up a bit and the characters have gotten more personality. I’ve planned to see it to the end, though it remains to be seen if I’ll jump into a second possible season.
My problem with a show like AoS (even as a Whedon show) is that it started out lackluster and has only recently begun to hit its stride. You may think this is a good thing rather than a problem, but let’s look at OB again for a moment. OB, while not perfect (because what show is), tried to bring in its audience with an intriguing concept and a morally ambiguous main character. You knew she would have to grow as a character, and the show did its best to get you invested in her story and those around her. On the flipside, the main characters of Shield, while having questionable backgrounds, always felt like generic action-hero types to me. As time went on, I grew attached to some characters, but it was a struggle for me to reach that point. Even from the start, AoS seemed to bank more on its audience being into the Marvel movies to draw them in than trying to tell overly interesting stories or fleshing out their characters.
You could argue that this is because AoS has had a standard 20+ episode run and need time to build up their characters and mysteries. I argue that AoS should have had a more solid season all around, and that’s partly because it IS a Whedon-run show. Even in the pilot, I found myself caring only for Coulson. There was even a time early on that I said to my fiance that OB felt more like a show written by Whedon and his writers (including his family) than AoS did.
Ultimately, I just prefer a show that can make me care about it throughout the season, not just near the end. And viewing these two shows recently helped me realize that. I can only hope that OB continues to impress me, and if AoS does get a second season, I hope it will strive for better.