As you know, nerds the world over are squirting in their Super Friends underoos over this week's debut of Joss Whedon's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (ABC, Tues Sept 24, 8 pm). Actually, its full name is Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is Marvel's way of saying, "This is OUR show, not yours—and we're only letting you watch it because we're nice, and we want to sell more Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. squirt-resistant underoos." However, since Joss Whedon did all the heavy lifting on this project, I'm going to refer to this show as "Joss Whedon's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," or JWMAoSHIELD. Because that's not confusing at all.
So is JWMAoSHIELD something to squirt in one's underpants about? All squirts point to YES! Why?
SQUIRT #1: Joss Whedon! After years of unappreciated excellence—being a staff writer for Roseanne, helming the amazingly awesome Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, the incredibly terrific Firefly, and the c'mon-admit-it-not-so-great Dollhouse—Whedon hit nerd superstardom with his mega box office hit The Avengers. So it's about goddamn time that a network trusts him with a high-profile series—even if Marvel is trying to take all the credit by putting their name first. (Is I Love Television™ called "Hormel Chili's I Love Television™"? NO, IT IS NOT! Though if Hormel Chili wants to pay me $10,000, I will gladly rename it.)
SQUIRT #2: A great cast! While Whedon's series may revolve around science fiction and fantasy, his scripts focus on the characters and what makes them human. So you'll happily note some of the same lovable archetypes in JWMAoSHIELD that you saw in Buffy, Angel, and Firefly—including nerdy computer geeks, tough-as-nails women, and a terrific lead character in Clark Gregg (aka fan fave Agent Coulson). As S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury's right-hand man, Coulson is beloved—not just because he's an agent fighting on the side of right, but because deep inside he's a superhero-loving, underoo-squirting geek like the rest of us. I mean, you! Not me! YOU!!!
SQUIRT #3: Humor, intrigue, and action! One reason why Whedon is head and shoulders above the rest of his action-directing contemporaries is that he's able to successfully mix humor and face-punching violence. In JWMAoSHIELD, expect plenty of smart, self-effacing, hilarious Whedonesque quips delivered by complicated characters, stirred in with scenes of unqualified whup-ass. Plus, unlike his former series that were given little to no monetary support from their network (Cough! Fox. Cough!), ABC knows it's got a winner on its hands, so the CG in JWMAoSHIELD won't make you roll your eyes and squint to make it seem more believable.
Hey, that's a lot of squirting for one show! The real trick will be if Whedon can sustain the momentum from his very enjoyable pilot into multiple episodes. Will S.H.I.E.L.D.'s superhero hunting escapades eventually turn into the recurrent "freak of the week" exploits of The X-Files—which, you have to admit, hung around waaaaay too long? Or will it become another Whedon classic, forcing me to buy multiple pairs of clean underpants to wear while watching his...