I was getting that old-time Buffy feeling for a while there.

See, Buffy the Vampire Slayer was the last time my wife and I followed a TV series together. I worked nights, so we’d tape it and watch it together on the weekends. We watched almost every episode together. Then we’d buy the seasons on DVD and re-watch them.

After we had kids, that kinda evaporated. We didn’t have the time for such a luxury at first, and, later, the TV (when it was on) was tuned to stuff that was age-appropriate for the boys.

They’re older now, and I no longer work a night shift at the newspaper, so it seemed as if the stars were lining right up when a Whedon-helmed Agents of SHIELD TV series was announced. My kids were gargantuan fans of the Marvel movies — and my wife liked ’em, too. A Marvel-spinoff TV series with the Whedon touch?

This was going to be the first time the entire Guigar family was planning to gather in front of the TV to follow a TV series.


They had us a “Welcome to Level 7.”

Welcome to LEvel 7

All of those little Joss Whedon touches in the pilot that brought back memories of Buffy for the adults (and Avengers for the boys) just sparkled. The dialogue snapped and the story crackled briskly through to a satisfying introduction to a promising series.

So last night, my betrothed rushed home from yoga class after pulling off her first headstand, popcorn was popped, homework was completed, showers were taken and the kitchen was cleaned after my triumphant presentation of thick smoked pork chops we brought home from the West Side Market during last week’s trip to Ohio for a wedding.

The 7yo was the first one to bail. The LEGOs were calling and he answered. Smart kid.

As we trudged from one scene to another, it got downright painful. Time and again, the dialogue would go through a beautiful set-up only to deliver a cliched dud. Opportunity after opportunity was lost. Where we were expecting that electric delivery from last week, we were given a formulaic run-through of worn-out idioms and tropes.

Remember “Welcome to Level 7”? What made that scene work was the immediate self-conscious nod by Agent Coulson, who crisply retorts an apology for standing out of sight in the shadows during the opening of the scene, “…I think there’s a bulb out.” That’s unexpected and charming and endearing. What did we get in episode two? “Don’t call me ‘Cavalry’ ” and “I told you never to call me that [‘Cavalry’]” — followed by… nothing.

All set-up / no delivery.

I guess the bright idea to hand the writing duties to Joss Whedon’s brother and sister-in-law didn’t exactly pay off.

By the end, my wife was telling me how good Sleepy Hollow was, and my son — so much like his old man — was insisting that it was going to get better.

One way or another, I doubt we’ll be in a rush to get in front of the TV next Tuesday. That is, unless my wife lets me pull out those old Buffy DVDs.