ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." - Season Three
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Entertainment Geekly is a weekly column that examines contemporary pop culture through a geek lens and simultaneously examines contemporary geek culture through a pop lens. So many lenses!

In last week’s column, I offered a few ideas for improving Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the just-okay non-superhero Marvel spinoff with tantalizingly limitless potential. Said ideas ran the gamut from reasonable (Solve the Coulson mystery) to outlandish (Make everyone evil) to the extremely unlikely (bring in the Black Knight)! In response, readers posted their own exciting SHIELD-reboot ideas. Let’s take a look at some of the best.

Alistaircrane: Re-focus the show around Maria Hill in Season 2.

Cobie Smulders’ stern SHIELD agent has a surprisingly big following, partially because the comic book incarnation of the character offers so much possibility and partially because Cobie Smulders is Cobie Smulders. Smulders is finishing on How I Met Your Mother this year, so the timing could be right…although she might want to focus on a film career/not jump from the relative leisure of sitcom stardom to the long hours of a network drama. Bringing in Hill would definitely ramp up the cool factor.

Guest: There’s more to Fitz/Simmons than they are letting on. I’m thinking they are either twins or clones with some sort of twist that they can’t live without each other. If they went this direction it would at least add an episode or two of drama when one is captured and tortured. Plus, if they do go full on and kill one then you have the downward spiral of the other, maybe going rogue and joining AIM or Hydra seeking revenge.

I’ve discovered that a common thread in talking about SHIELD is the general assumption that everything we know about SHIELD is wrong. (One of my colleagues thinks the entire cast besides Coulson will be dead by midseason, which sounds like awesome wishful thinking.) I love the idea of introducing two charming, cute, hipster, witty Scotty-types as comic relief and then sending them on an Anakin Skywalker descent. Unfortunately, I doubt that’s in the cards.

Guy Smiley: Make the show about actual agents, not a hobbled-together team of barely competent misfits.

Agree on all counts! In fairness, the show tried to turn Skye into a Noah-Wyle-on-ER character: A newcomer to a strange world, an everyperson audience surrogate. In hindsight, this was a simple miscalculation: Viewers have already had several films to acclimate to the Marvelverse. They’re already turning Skye into an effective agent of SHIELD. The ideal should be a version of the A-Team with more superpowers: An effective squad undertaking missions that require smarts, not charm.

Mark Elliot Loyd: SHIELD is a Whedon’s Angel written by high schoolers. Now, navyvet50 brought up Orphan Black; it’s a cheeky show that somehow is never hampered down by its cheekiness or its darkness. Something SHIELD is failing horribly at. There’s no reason to make SHIELD realistic, but that doesn’t mean it should be another Disney kids show.

Or, as EW’s James Hibberd put it, “Spy Kids has more gravitas!” The more you watch it, the more SHIELD appears to be an attempt by ABC to recreate the neo-family entertainment of Once Upon a Time, a show with serial-mythological affectations that nevertheless is safe for eleven-year-olds. This is why SHIELD occasionally feels like a Saturday-morning-cartoon starring grown-ups. Personally, I think they need to pick a tone: If they go darker, no more cutesy dialogue; if they go lighter and want to be a kids’ show, then no more undressed-Skye shots.

Wow factor: They need the Hulk.

Never going to happen. But maybe Angie Harmon could play She-Hulk?

Zebra Snark: Make the baddies AIM, Hydra, Roxxon, etc. This is low-hanging fruit.

Agree on all counts! And that’s an effective way to introduce concepts from the comic books without actually requiring any of the expensive digital effects that even D-list superheroes require. Imagine if SHIELD wasn’t just fighting one secret enemy organization — imagine if they were fighting all of them, if SHIELD was in fact just one secret organization in a whole secret substructure of powerful corporations and mad-scientist societies all fighting to control the new superpowered world.

Xmasevebaby: Take the pressure off the show by adding a second consecutive hour of Marvel programming on Tuesday nights. Give us a weekly Western based on Marvel’s stable of costumed gunfighter that have NOTHING to do with the Avengers.

In fairness, this sounds way less unlikely than Once Upon a Time In Wonderland, not to mention much cooler. I see Karl Urban as the Phantom Rider and Cheyenne Jackson as the Rawhide Kid.

Darrin13: Though I would always welcome a Neal McDonough sighting, it would be a bit hard to pull off considering Dum Dum Dugan would be roughly 120 years old in the present time, unless they said that he was frozen in ice for 60 years too.

It’s the Marvel universe! Let’s just say he was in the Negative Zone (or a Negative-esque zone, assuming Fox owns that concept). Neal McDonough was in Boomtown, you guys! And Dum Dum is a larger-than-life character: Exactly the kind of person who could shake up the bland SHIELD cast.

sarahalee: They could fix it by cancelling it. PROBLEM SOLVED! :)

So long, bathwater! Now where’d that baby go…

Dele Adams: Bring back Coulson’s protege. She will not only bring some much needed diversity to the rather bland cast, but her character truly knows Coulson. The chemistry and history would make for a much better team dynamic.


Stan Gapha: SHIELD would work better if: 1) They killed off everyone but Coulson. 2) They used Coulson in the same role they did in the movies. A very powerful drop-in character. In the series, he could be used as a touchstone to tie each episode together. 3) Each episode focused not on the agents but on the supervillains and the budding superheroes. They could do one per episode or craft arcs spanning multiple episodes. Maybe create some new villains or heroes we have never seen before?

This is such an ambitious idea that it sounds impossible, which is why it’s awesome. Basically, it would reboot SHIELD as Marvel’s Columbo. The central character of each episode would be the villain or the poor sap with new superpowers; Coulson would appear at the 15-minute mark, sometimes to guide them, sometimes to take them down. It could also play out as American Horror Story with superpowers (American Superhero Story?), an anthology with longer arcs and shorter arcs. Again: Unlikely, but given that the broadcast networks are in a post-breakdown state at this point, bold moves are good moves!

Fiona Love: Introduce the shape-shifting aliens the Skrulls. Take a note from “Secret Invasion” with them infiltrating our government, military and even SHIELD proper. Have Coulson’s team have to play it cool because they may be the only group not infiltrated. Make the Skrulls a long-term baddie.

YES. Won’t happen, because they’re saving that for Avengers 4, but still pretty cool.

soggybiscuit: Hire Ted McGinley.

Only if he plays Iron Fist.

Episode Recaps

ABC's "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." - Season Three
Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) assembles a team of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to handle strange new cases.

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