Today it was announced that Agents of SHIELD would be getting a full season order, which means it'll run at least 22 episodes. In a larger Marvel Cinematic Universe sense that means it's going to be on the air through the release of Captain America: The WInter Soldier, which I believe will shake up the structure of SHIELD in major ways and could likely lead to the show's group of agents stealing their plane and acting as rogues. What I'm saying here is that I think the series itself will be shaken up within the course of the first season; while they're at it, here are five other things they can change to earn that full season order.
1. Introduce an evil spy group.
These already exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, in the form of AIM, Ten Rings and Hydra. All SHIELD has to do is make one of them the main antagonist for our characters, a recurring thorn in their sides. Rising Tide, the hacker group to which Skye belongs, doesn't count... unless it's one of the Ten Rings. Basically what I want to see is Agent Coulson and friends up against a group that has the exact same resources they have. And also cool jumpsuits.
2. Fix the lighting.
Why does this show look like shit every week? Stop making it look like shit. I know there must be something that can be done to remove the 'cheap syndicated show' aesthetic from an expensive series.
3. Shake up the format.
I can already see the structure of 90% of Agents of SHIELD episodes: we begin on the Bus, where we have some banter that reveals the character stuff that will be explored this episode. A mission comes in, the mission is undertaken and then we return to the Bus for some wrap up/closure to the character issues. And then we have a pre-credits sting. While I like the idea of Agents of SHIELD having a lot of standalone episodes (I'm ready for a break from the incessant serializing on other shows) I don't want it to become a by-the-numbers procedural designed to make old people feel comfortable.
4. Fix Agent Banana Republic.
I have a lot of problems with Agent Grant Ward, not the least of which is that he's a boring character played by a guy who has an ineffable blankness to him. Now that Ming Na's character has overcome her pointless compulsion against violence, he's become totally redundant. Something needs to be done to fix him up, to give him a point, and the first thing the show can do is stop putting him in fucking t-shirts and make him wear a badass SHIELD jumpsuit of some sort. Own the comic book stuff, guys.
5. Kill one of the scientists.
Nothing against either of the actors who play the duo of accented, annoying scientists on the show (three episodes in and I cannot tell you their names, though. That says something), but one of them has to go. Agents of SHIELD is swimming in redundancy - much as Grant and Ming Na play the same role, the two scientists cover the same ground, and that's not even taking into account Skye's presence as a 'master hacker.' We don't need both of them, they add nothing to the show but exposition and yelling. Maybe the redundancy was the plan all along - killing one of these two would lend some stakes to a show that has been remarkably breezy (which isn't inherently a bad thing), and perhaps that's Joss Whedon's master plan.
6. Add some color.
Having an older Asian woman as one of the stars of the show (even if she's been barely featured so far) is pretty great, and it's nice that Chloe Bennet, who plays Skye, is half-Chinese, but why is the rest of Agents of SHIELD's cast so very white? This show's idea of ethnic diversity is having British/Scottish people on the team. Diversity remains a problem in all superhero-related media, and with a team of this size, there's no reason to have such a white cast. Having a Nick Fury cameo doesn't even begin to count.
I still have faith that the writing and the acting will get better as the show goes on. With 22 episodes Agents of SHIELD has a real chance to be an actually good show, rather than a show I'm tolerating. The latest episode, The Asset, gave a nice blueprint for how more comic book-y elements can be integrated into the series, and I'm excited to see what 22 hours can accomplish.