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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a primetime follow-up to the popular movie The Avengers, so it's bound to be a draw for anyone who enjoyed the film. That said, none of the movie's highest-profile cast members return for this series, so it's not difficult to jump into the action without having seen the film. Violence is indicative of the cop dramas it's modeled after, so you'll see explosions, fires, beatings, and the use of guns and other weapons, and some people are injured in the crossfire. Strong language is a minor concern ("frickin'" and "bitch" are repeat offenders), and there's some playful sexual banter between male and female characters. On the upside, teamwork and social responsibility are recurring themes, and there are three strong, competent female agents in the mix. In later seasons, some heroic figures prove themselves to be fallible and duplicitous; others start out as heroes and become villains.
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What's the story?
MARVEL'S AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. opens with the promotion of black ops expert Agent Grant Ward (Brett Dalton) to the highest level within a secretive government agency, S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention Enforcement and Logistics Division). Originally headed by Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) (and later, overseen by complicated/ambitous S.H.I.E.L.D. director Jeffrey Mace, played by Jason O'Hara), whose fate hung in the balance at the conclusion of The Avengers, the agency is tasked with protecting the public from otherworldly threats of all shapes and sizes. Ward joins the brilliant scientific team of agents Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker) and Jemma Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge), expert pilot Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen), and computer hacker extraordinaire Skye (Chloe Bennett) to form the S.H.I.E.L.D. team. The world may be under threat from villainous groups like Hydra, but S.H.I.E.L.D. and its new team of supernatural-power-enhanced Secret Warriors are ready to take on that threat -- by any means necessary.
Is it any good?
This series is a thrilling ride that won't disappoint. It's no easy task to follow on the heels of a blockbuster like The Avengers, much less to do so in small-screen format and without all of your headliners. Even with Joss Whedon again in the director's chair, this isn't going to be an Avengers 2. Gregg's return as Agent Coulson bridges the gap to some degree, but for the most part, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is an entirely new story based on a new set of characters. Though this might disappoint some fans, it does help distinguish between a movie-length format and this cop drama-style series encompassing the team of agents rather than their individual standouts.
But if you're open to these changes, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s rapid-fire, often comical dialogue and action sequences that stretch the confines of the small screen are indicative of Whedon's past successes. What's more, the series format allows for even more enticing evolution of various story arcs, whose mysteries -– including the truth behind Agent Coulson's miraculous recovery –- promise to span multiple episodes.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s relationship to The Avengers. Is it meant to be a sequel? If not, why have any similarities at all? Does it do well to distinguish itself from the movie?
What is this story's message about heroes? To what degree do real-life heroes exist in your community? What does it take to be one?
How does this show's violence compare to that of other primetime offerings? What is the new standard for this type of content? Are we becoming more tolerant of realistic sequences like the ones in this series? Does this have any effect on how we view real-life violence?
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