Is ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Getting Better as Ratings Fall?

Published 1 year ago by , Updated November 16th, 2013 at 2:01 pm,

agents of shield tv review 570x294 Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Getting Better as Ratings Fall?

Admittedly, this is the challenge of Marvel’s attempt at binding all these characters together across a variety of mediums – so they’re not off the hook. Yet, just because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t (and still isn’t) succeeding at executing on all of the mind-blowing possibilities and connections that fans might have been hoping to see, doesn’t mean that the series isn’t a worthwhile or entertaining TV product. Ever since the original announcement, Joss Whedon and ABC executives attempted to temper expectations – stating that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was about a ragtag band of people (not superheroes) in The Avengers universe that would face threats both human and superhuman. There were no promises of Avengers cameos or claims that the visual effects and action set pieces would be on-par with Marvel’s feature-film offerings – so it’s hard to blame the show itself for falling short of the scale that movie fans had dreamed-up.

For example, in our own Thor: The Dark World podcast, we discussed the recent news that episode 8 of the TV series (titled “The Well”) would deal with the aftermath of Thor’s battle with Malekith in London. Several entertaining ideas were spitballed, but very few of them – given the budget and limitations of a weekly TV series – were at all realistic; and when the latest TV spot aired, it wasn’t at all surprising to find out that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. team would NOT be hunting down a giant CGI Frost Beast. Could our expectations for the series be too high, and subsequently are we missing out on a fun (and admittedly cheesy) new drama series simply because it won’t be able to compete with all of the cool shared universe tie-ins that fans had presented in the comment sections of our articles?

Fitz Simmons in Agents of SHIELD episode 4 Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Getting Better as Ratings Fall?

After all, regular network TV shows come with plenty of challenges: short development schedules, budgeted visual effects, limited locations to shoot. Just because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is a Marvel TV show, doesn’t mean that ABC can burn through their budget on expensive special effect shots or call Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and other Avengers in for regular cameos. Consequently, a certain amount of perspective is necessary, since instead of enjoying a fun interconnected storyline that draws parallels between the TV show and big budget Thor movie, via a piece of Asgardian weaponry, fans will (very likely) turn up their noses at the upcoming shared universe effort – simply because it could have been bigger and better than what the show will ultimately deliver.

Needed Improvements

That said, there are still a lot of valid criticisms that the producers need to address if they hope to recoup viewers. The Captain America: Winter Soldier trailer cast a very bright spotlight on one of the biggest drawbacks of the show so far: Coulson’s hand-picked team is, so far, little more than a batch of likable but amateurish young people – who pale in comparison to the uncompromising efficiency of S.H.I.E.L.D. operatives in Marvel feature films. Some viewers may be able to accept the balance between life/death scenarios and cooky character shenanigans but for a TV series like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to work, viewers must connect with the main characters and believe that they can go toe-to-toe with their colleagues in the larger shared-universe – especially since the final season one episode (allegedly) have connections to the S.H.I.E.L.D.-heavy Captain America 2 plot.

agents of shield cobie smulders Is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Getting Better as Ratings Fall?

Between minor improvements to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and a full-season order at ABC, it’s unlikely that the show is going anywhere in the near future – since Whedon and his show runners will, without question, attempt to improve and shape the show. It’ll be interesting to see whether or not viewers who previously deleted the show from their DVR’s will give it another chance in the coming months. If not, it’s possible that, despite the best of intentions, a shared-universe TV story on a network budget might have been too ambitious (with too many complications) – even for Disney-owned Marvel.

At least fans won’t have to rely entirely on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. for Marvel superheroes on TV – with the recent announcement of Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, as well as Iron Fist TV series, and a miniseries event for The Defenders, on Netflix.

SEE ALSO: ‘Captain America 2′ Trailer vs. ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with “The Well” @8pm on ABC.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for future updates on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.

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  1. i haven’t watched the show and most likely never will because i know how it is designed.
    it’s just a MIB tv show with no connection to the marvel verse other than the name AGENTS OF SHIELD.

    if they were more careful in their creation and blended it with the movies. You know like previewing the future threat of ULTRON with carefully constructed crime investigations that are very meticulous in nature than i would watch this show. but it’s obvious to me that the creators of the television show don’t have faith in it because they make it so that it doesn’t interfere with their cash cow. that is problematic.

    they may say they have full faith in their product but they way they treat it shows that even they don’t. It’s just a hollow publicity stunt. and they need to treat carefully or they risk ruining their other stuff the same way sarah conner chronicles made terminator 4 look dumb before it was even hatched. cause it wasn’t the movie’s quality that killed T-4 no one went opening weekend.

    think about it.

    • “i haven’t watched the show and most likely never will because i know how it is designed.
      it’s just a MIB tv show with no connection to the marvel verse other than the name AGENTS OF SHIELD.”
      You couldn’t be more wrong

  2. Haven’t watched and probably won’t from what i heard. The lame excuse i hear the most “Unlike films, most TV pilots are built around entirely unknown characters (using genre archetypes) with no connection to anything outside of isolated week to week drama.”
    Watched Breaking Bad’s Pilot.. hook in an instance. All the characters are unknown in this show and thus you have no connection. Yet majority love the show after the 1st viewing.
    Pilots are usually make it or breaking it.. and from the looks of it AOS is breaking it.. not in a good way.

  3. Great Lakes Avengers Movie


    Mr. Immortal: Justin Timberlake
    Dinah Soar: Zoe Saldana
    Big Bertha: Beth Behrs
    Flatman: Justin Bartha
    Doorman: Donald Glover
    Squirrel Girl: Ellen Page

    Leather Boy: Christopher Mintz-Plasse
    The Abomination: Tim Roth

    Directed by Todd Phillips

    • But Zoe Saldana is already playing another Marvel character.

  4. SHIELD is a very intelligent show. Its special effects and action sequences are first-rate. The exhibition is extremely clever and subtle, so it doesn’t take the viewers for idiots, a problem I had with Heroes, for example. So why aren’t people watching it? It’s just not that interesting. Its too safe.
    SHIELD is like a Toyota: solidly built, high quality, but boring.

    • I forgot to mention that continuing plot lines resolve way too long with very little reward. Did it really need 5 episodes to find out what Skye’s extremely underwhelming ulterior motive was? Rewards for watching this show are too small. There hasn’t been any “can’t miss” episodes.

      • Kind of like Smallville’s Doomsday season? That may have done a lot to lower our expectations on what a show will deliver…

      • I do agree with AOS not having any “can’t miss” episodes yet but I rather do like the whole recurring plots although I don’t like how they are handling it. I think it should have only taken 2 episodes to find out what Skye’s ulterior motive was. Also, we get that SHIELD was part of the Avengers movie. They don’t need to reference that every episode. They also don’t need a big budget to pull off this show. They just need better writing and a sense of direction. Where is this all heading? How long will it take to get there? Who is going to be our villain? If we are going to delay the “big reveal” until the end of the season, how can we keep the show interesting without giving too much away?

  5. This show is just an all-out assault on our intelligence. It has a sense that only a 5-year old can appreciate. I’ve watched every episode so far and each time it’s an hour of my life lost.

    Cliché action scenes. Characters that make no sense at all. Lets give a rogue Skye access to classified files, even after she was caught leaking them and hacking systems multiple times… Jemma who assaults a superior official receives no punishment at all… Really??? The light of my life, Ming Na is only in each episode for like 60 seconds?

    A lot of things went wrong to make this show this bad. Somebody should be fired. Multiple people should be fired.

    • I totally agree that it is an assault to our intelligence. I don’t think anyone really expects to see a tv series run with like a big budget movie blockbuster, but we did expect SHIELD to be somewhat like it was portrayed in several films and numerous animated series. This has been established and is not that difficult to pull off. These guys are a joke! I’ve seen only a couple of episodes and with the quality of the trailers the others haven’t drawn my attention. Maybe if it was on at another time…
      I would really love for this show to succeed, but doubt that it’ll happen. I would rather be watching NCIS, even without Ziva.

  6. The Hub was a terrible episode that added nothing that wasn’t already hinted upon earlier in the series. The big reveal about the documents was one of the most cliched things I have ever seen (the way it was handled). I still have hope that this show can be good but with the exception of Coulson (of course) and maybe May the rest of the cast is cookie cutter and just plain boring and annoying. Kill them off and start over.

  7. I’d say Agents of Shield is getting better, the plan I’d say was to be a Marvel show without requiring the special effects of a Marvel movie and those four shows that Netflix picked up I’d be willing to bet are using certain characters for the same reasons,

    Daredevil, Jewel (Jessica Jones), Iron Fist and Power Man have powers that are not that hard to show on TV. I’d say the problem with The Sarah Conner Chronicles and AOS is that both shows are/were being compared to the respected movies they were running alongside and it’s hard to make a show when half your audience is expecting movie-levels of quality in every episode.

    The thing is I don’t like AOS but I’m still watching the show since to me it’s not like I have to pay for the show (well let’s fact it you’re paying for the channel anyway) and I know the show has a lot of potential even if it should have been a lot sooner.

    Basically I’m not saying we have to watch it but would anyone agree that had it been this good at episode 1, you might not have been turned off the show?

    (NOTE – Before replying bare in mind that obviously this means IF you’re not a fan of the show, I don’t want to see any AOS Fans going “But Jaaaames not all of us hate Agents of Shield!”)

    I mean it’s all well and good saying the show is good now but it might be a case of “too little, too late” for AOS. I’m getting tired of Whedon fans on this site trying to convince us we have to watch this show for when it gets good.

    Yes, the show is getting good now but can the guys behind the show recognise why it’s good now? I want to the creators to know why people think it’s improving on work on pushing those aspects forward and can we learn more about the characters? Things like why Agent Ward doesn’t like working with other people or what happened to Skye’s parents. I want AOS to show me why I should care for these people and their struggle,

    Don’t just tell me to care show me why I should care. For the record I have never wanted this show to fail and pointing out a show’s flaws isn’t either. As I’ve said in the past I know how quick networks are to act on bad ratings and I don’t want season 1 to be the only season and yes I am happy that Joss Whedon and the guys at ABC are proving me wrong.

    Now guys prove me wrong even further and make 10 22 episode seasons of this show.

    P.S – I don’t care how many times the American spellcheck tries to point it out, I AM BRITISH. I spell words like recognise with an S. NOT A Z.

  8. I hear a lot about budget issues resulting in poor cast/effects etc. But why can so many other shows like game of thrones, arrow, tomorrow people , falling sky, walking dead, etc pull off great stories, great effects and action? there something else wrong here and not sure it will be fixed unless Colsen wakes up only to realise everything was just a dream, no one was real .. and it was some tech way of getting information out of him .. killing off all those horrible characters and actors and introducing the real agents of shield.

    • *Reads username*
      GET OUT

    • I also hear that “people were expecting it to compare to the movies”. It’s not that at all. We expected better quality of writing. That has nothing to do with the budget or “it being the movies”. We expected that SHIELD that we all know, not this SHIELD in training cast. When you have about 81% of the comic readers saying the writing and direction of the show doesn’t meet the quality of a Marvel brand then something is seriously wrong. For all that was wrong with Iron Man 3, and there was a lot wrong, it was still a quality Marvel film and the overall results was that while people were split about the “villain” role, the writing was still good (73% approval rating). I mean, I understand it’s Marvel and we support all Marvel/DC but the fact is if this wasn’t in no way, shape, or form connected to Marvel then this show would have been destroyed with the amount of complaints of how bad the show is because every year there is a show that has the similar formula of this show and ends up cancelled or heavily criticized for being bad

  9. I can sum up the biggest problem with AOS in one sentence: Everyone thought Joss whedon was writing this.

  10. I think that the show has been put under harsh scrutiny, especially for it’s first season. No show , no matter how critically received will maintain it’s ratings throughout a whole season. You will get highs and lows.

    Like the article says though it’s perhaps a victim of the concept itself. Viewers were expecting to a degree the same scale of action as The Avengers and no tv show can produce that week to week.

    I will say that the dynamic of the team is too young. They’re meant o be exceptionally qualified government agents dealing with potentially global threats, yest most of them still look like they’ve just started their first year of college. It just takes away a degree of credibility from the show I think.

  11. I’m sure they’ll greenlight the second season with reduced production costs and come up with some technicality in marketing gibberish to justify it.

    Disney wants to get the most of its Marvel movie cash cow until it runs out of gas.

  12. I called this one many months ago before the shield show came out, josh whedon said its has to
    Stand on its own. I knew this was not going to happen and what the fans want is some tangible
    heroes and villians or introduce the punisher, the zodiac cartel, the serpent society. Use four
    Episodes to buildup to each movie rather then a ridiculous hub episode that amounted to
    nothing visible. Bring in real marvel material rather then made up characters.

  13. I never minded the special effects or anything along those lines. What drove me away was the characters. They were so unappealing. Maybe I expected a lot (or too much) from Joss Whedon, but I wished the team worked together as well as the Serenity crew.

  14. Best episode by far.

  15. I am really tired of articles that say the reason we are not happy with the show is because we expect it to match the movies in term of effects or budget. That is insulting and stupid. Anybody with even half a brain knew that was not going to happen. Nobody expected the Avengers to appear in anything more than tiny little cameos if even that.

    What we did expect was a show worthy of the name Marvel. This ain’t it.

    Where is the excitement? Where are the thrills? Why have we not seen one freaking person in a costume? This is not the Marvel Universe it is simply a rip-off of the it. As many have said without the Marvel name this show would have been DOA. The only reason fans keep watching is in the hopes it might turn into something worthwile.

    Its main audience are people who watch a lot of TV anyway. I keep being told that compared to most of the stuff on TV it is a pretty good show. That is not good enough for me. It is Marvel it should blow every other show out of the water except those on channels like HBO.

    This show is going to die. If it does not the only reason will be because Disney sees it as one big paid ad for the Marvel movies.