ABC Exec Admits to ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Problems, Promises Strong Season 1 Finish

Published 1 year ago by , Updated January 21st, 2014 at 7:23 pm,

Agents of SHIELD season 1 final episodes Ratings ABC Exec Admits to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Problems, Promises Strong Season 1 Finish

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been a huge experiment for Marvel – a TV series tie-in to their blockbuster movie universe – and the results of that experiment have been mixed, at best. A sharp ratings decline after the season premiere, mysteries dragged out for too long, weak tie-ins to the movies and some all-around lackluster storytelling have left even the hardcore Marvel fanbase split over whether or not this show is a failure. And please believe, the studio has taken notice.

While at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, ABC entertainment president Paul Lee confronted the issue of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s struggles, pledging that solutions are on the way, while reasserting that the network is in support of the show – which has already been slated for a full 22-episode season.

Here’s what Lee said about the show’s struggles:

“It was obviously disappointing that we started with a very high number and it came down. It took a little bit of time to find our sea legs, but now the show is really doing well…. I think the key to us was really starting to work closely with the studios, and really figure out with our showrunners and all the creative brains, how we could have a show that didn’t have Iron Man in it, but did have an incredible amount of the Marvel universe and an incredible amount of the mythology that went through there. We also took a little bit of time to get the balance between a procedural and an arc. I’m so proud of how they’ve now arced out the last nine episodes. But, that’s something that many shows do, as they go through that.”

arrow season 1 oliver ABC Exec Admits to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Problems, Promises Strong Season 1 Finish

There is a fair amount of truth to that quote: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s most ardent supporters are fond of pointing out that rival DC TV series Arrow also stumbled through a fair portion of its first season before finding sturdy legs as a dark superhero character drama. While one could debate how the first twelve episodes of Arrow compare to the twelve episodes of AoS we’ve seen so far, there is little debate that Arrow did grow more exciting, focused and confident in its approach after the halfway mark of season 1. Now the show is better than ever.

So there IS room for AoS to pull a similar trick and come to a strong finish by the time Captain America: The Winter Soldier is into its theatrical run – and Lee says the network is confident that upward trend will happen as season 1 closes out:

“…Creatively, we are loving what we’re seeing for the back nine. We’re doing a lot of work, and I’m really enjoying doing this with Marvel. We can announce that Lady Sif is coming in, in Episode 15. We’re shooting it now, and that’s going to be absolutely integral to that hour of television. And then, there’s going to be this really cool arc to the end of the season. You’re going to find out who the Clairvoyant is, and it’s going to be very, very cool.”

agents shield new characters ABC Exec Admits to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Problems, Promises Strong Season 1 Finish

With 12 episodes aired and one about to air in two weeks (from the day of writing this), that “back nine” Lee refers to are the last 9 episodes to come (eps 14 – 22). It’s a big deal to hear Lee praise the back nine as a focused arc; unless its hyped-up “astonishing, series-changing, final act” lives up to the hype, episode 13 “Tracks” looks like a pretty standalone episode (watch the promo down below) – which now puts pressure on every other episode in the season to deliver an exciting piece of a fantastic end story arc. At this point, who’s willing to make a 9 out of 9 success rate bet on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Also curious is Lee’s notation that the Lady Sif appearance (ep. 15) will be “absolutely integral” to that episode. We’ve heard promise that the show would soon have stronger ties to the Marvel Movie Universe, but a lot of that focus has been on how AoS will tie to Captain America 2 (a Thor tie-in was thought to be a done deal after the missed opportunity of episode 8, “The Well”). How Sif will be “integral” in an episode that Lee alleges is itself integral to the “back nine” story arc remains to be seen; however, after the quasi-revelations of the mid-season premiere, “The Magical Place,” I’ve personally been of the belief that Agent Coulson’s resurrection has some yet-unrevealed Asgardian connections. Maybe (hopefully) Sif’s appearance will be the catalyst to pushing fans’ favorite Agent into the heroic limelight he belongs in.


Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns February 4th @ 8pm on ABC with episode 13, “Tracks”. You can watch the promo below:

Source: CBR

Follow Kofi Outlaw on Twitter @ppnkof
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  1. It was on that day that the Gates of Hell tore open, and a cascading torrent of the Fanboyim did rupture forth into the virtual world, their ire raised, their flicking tongues spitting the fire of desperate validation, their hands grasping at the ever elusive straws.

    And the Heavens smirked upon the Page of Comments.

    And it was Good.

    • This show is garbage. They treat it like a farce instead of a serious adventure. It should tonally be like 24 yet with the Marvel backdrop. Not like Hanna Montana with a Marvel backdrop. :/

      • With you on that. What people fail to understand, is that this show only excists to turn a profit, it looks cheap, the writing if awful, and the cast is scraped from the bottom of a barrel. But you all still site there hoping it will get better. It will never get better. Look, face it! its not the avengers, the avengers are not going to show up like ever. But you don,t care what I think, cos the producers will promise you it will get better, and your little fanboy bonners, will have you tuning in time and time again, like a good little drone.

      • This show is still on? Wow, if it was part of a movie, it would have been left on the cutting room floor. Bad Marvel rip-off. Excelsior – gag!

  2. Kofi…

    You’re about to get so man FUN responses to this article…as if you are saying something new or surprising.

    It should be amusing to watch… ;)

    • *manY*


    • Yeah, I had a long meditation session before publishing this.

      • Your article says it returns in a week but I think you meant two weeks if it’s Feb 4.

    • hahaa

  3. Are the episode titles being deliberately misquoted, or are there alternate titles as it’s sometimes the case with UK screenings of American TV shows?

    • Sorry! I have a list of episodes “nicknamed” for my memory. Forgot to convert them back to the real titles.

      Should be corrected now!

      • I have the episodes nicknamed in my head as well. Crappy Episode, Crappier Episode, Crappiest Episode, Episode Worse than the Crappiest Episode etc, Crappy Episode Part Deux, Chloe Bennet in Lingerie, etc.

  4. wasn’t the episode called “The Well”. Anyways even if to the average viewer only 7 of the 9 hit than I still believe the show will be a good entertaining watch. I still believe Skyy is somehow related to Bucky Barnes and the Capt. America movie just based on the last episode when she first noticed that name as if it meant something to her.

    • That’s interesting. I hadn’t thought about that aspect.

      There’s going to be some fun reveals in the coming weeks. Whether she’s inhuman or related to Bucky somehow… I’m eager to find out who the Clairvoyant is.

      • I think the clairvoyant is the Red Skull.

        • The Clairvoyant is a early incarnation of Ultron… I hope.

          • The Leader

            • Modok

              • Doctor Strange, the sorcerer supreme.

                • Doubt it, Johnny Depp has been casted as Dr. Strange (good fit imo, he can use some of Jack Sparrows character in it), and he’s not a guy to do TV Shows.

                  • when did announce this officialy?

          • No it wont be, you really think for one second, this show will spwan anything that relates to upcoming moives.

            • Excuse my spelling, I was jerking off when i wrote that.

    • It’s a good theory but they already came out to say that the only thing that will have a “tie in” to Cap 2 will be the level of corruption in SHIELD. Skye or any of the other agents will have no tie ins to the movie. It would be nice for them to tie it into the movie world but it seems like Whedon is started to move away from having an “agent connection” to Cap 2(aside from Bucky).

  5. I guess this should be reassuring, right? Basically saying, “We know we can do better, and we are doing that down the stretch.” It will be hard to recoup some of those lost viewers, but they are still #2 in the time slot and lead with males 18-34. Do I hope the show gets better? Yes. Will I still watch each week. Yes.

    • Some lost viewers had nothing to do with how the show was flopping, but rather that ABC Watch changed their policies and availability after New Year’s…assuming those numbers are somehow thrown in to viewership eventually. For some people I know in the area in which I live, that WAS one of the only ways we could watch the show. Now I guess we’ll have to wait for Netflix to pick it up to watch.

      • I watch in on Hulu; I just watch it a week late. Does that not work?

        • I believe viewers are counted as Live and Same Day Viewers. Not sure how they track those viewing days later on DVR, or with Watch ABC, Hulu, etc.

          • When it’s being recorded on a DVR or TIVO type of device, it’s still being counted as “watched”

            • The metrics they look at are +3 and +7 viewers. If you watch an ep more than seven days out, it’s not really counted for anything at this point.

    • +1

  6. AoS has been reminding me of the first season of Fringe. I kept tuning into Fringe even though I was bored with the case of the week stories that were done for character development. The latter half of Fringe’s first season built to a twist that I wasn’t prepared for. The fall premiere of season 2 couldn’t come soon enough. Arrow did that same thing…but Terra Nova also did the same thing. Renewal could go any direction.

    I can’t predict the future, but the show has shown improvement. Hopefully, it ends season 1 with an amazing bang and gets renewed.

    • I’m still tuning in every week to follow the series, but while I think the comparison is contextually appropriate I feel it’s not really fair.

      The first half of Fringe’s first season was definitely the lowest point in the whole show (which still means it wasn’t half bad in any way), but the overall quality of the acting alone was enough to make it worth watching.

      Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. can’t really play that card, as most of its cast is comprised of so-so actors playing so-so characters. The only real lead the have is Gregg, who’s a pretty good actor playing a decent character; he is, however, constantly sidelined by the rest of the characters. I can’t shake the feeling there’s a consistently better “Phil Coulson: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.” show buried under the current version of it.

      • @Kenji – That’s a fair point. Anna Torv and John Noble are on another level in the acting game. I agree with that, and Fringe had to create their world while all AoS had to do was drop new characters in with existing characters from a successful movie franchise universe.

        They are different beasts. I was just pointing out the trend of cult TV shows that build up through their first seasons to culminate with a plot twist that shakes everything up and makes the viewer hunger for more.

      • Agents of SHIELD is in a different position then 98% of these other shows in that it is set in a supposedly already established world where other, arguably more interesting have happened or are happening off-screen. This is a blessing and curse for the show in my opinion since all the speculation of someone or something more interesting showing up is what may be keeping many viewers tuning in; the downside is that if the show does not establish itself as being interesting on it’s own merits how long can it last without more cross-overs with the films?

        As it stands now it seems like there is some agreement that either more known characters or going to have to show up, be they super human or not. Or the agents are going to have to become more interesting or be replaced with players that are more compelling and don’t seem so amateurish. More tangible antagonist would help as well, if just to create some tension or add another layer of more interesting characters to follow.

    • I totally agree with all of this. It seems like most shows start out as some sort of case or monster of the week, and grow from there.

      I was really disappointed Terra Nova didn’t come back. Once they got away from the stupid family drama crap and started actually making use of the setting, it improved a lot, and it would have been really exciting to see what direction they took it after the events of the finale.

      • I agree. I would love it if Fox revisited Terra Nova…they are doing that with 24, so I can hope and dream about some closure for Terra Nova too. :D

    • Terra Nova was cancelled because it was too expensive to make at the time, not because of ratings (ratings were pretty good towards the end), episodes were costing upwards of $10 mill per which the studio wasn’t willing to pay or it just wasn’t profitable enough.

      • You’re right. If you go back and read the reviews and comments, a lot of viewers didn’t appreciate the show at first and the story picked up in second half of season, but you are correct about it being cancelled for financial reasons.

  7. I’m just glad he was man enough to admit they need to do better. The show is not great by any means but if it can get better than that’s good for everybody who loves the realm of comics!

  8. Can anyone explain to me why Bucky Barnes is on the wall of the fallen at SHIELD if he supposedly died before the time SHIELD was founded? Does this mean that between the first and second Captain America films that Bucky was known to be alive and working for SHIELD…openly? Will his story be that he died once in WWII and died yet again sometime in the future and then somehow pop up alive again in 2014? How will that play out in The Winter Soldier?

    • I don’t know whether there’s an official explanation for that yet. One concrete possibility is that Cap’s Howling Commandos (along with Howard Stark and the rest of the scientific and military assets to the anti-Hydra operation) were considered the first cell of S.H.I.E.L.D., and that therefore all members were essentially considered to be retroactively part of the organisation when it was founded some years later.

    • Because as of right now, no one knows that Bucky is alive.

      • I think it’s along the lines of the O.S.S. becoming the C.I.A. after World War 2. the organization was there and active but not named. Peggy Carter was clearlyan operative, even if they didn’t call it S.H.I.E.L.D..

        • Right, my 11-year-old asked the same thing. I figured they did that to honor these guys who died being the first wave of SHIELD, even though it was before its *actual* inception.

    • I am a little more interested in why he was brought up in the first place, other than the upcoming movie.
      Does he have connections to Sky? Daughter that was spirited away in the night and hidden?

      • I hate Skye with a passion, but she is not Bucky’s daughter. Too young and Bucky “died” in WW2. I think she has connections to Agent Carter.

        If ABC can pull this show from the brink of death I may watch it again, especially the Bill Paxton episodes. But as of now I am pretty much done with this show.

    • Kenji is right. The Howling Commandos were part of the SSR and so Bucky would be listed (as Steve likely was until being discovered in the ice).

    • If you look at the wall, most of the very first names on the left side had the Strategic Scientific Reserve symbol, which Bucky was a member of (by extension the Howling Commandos were part of that group) that’s why his name was there. They also clearly mention that the SSR was reformed into the scientific branch of SHIELD after WWII, just like one commenter made the example of the O.S.S. becoming the C.I.A. after WWII as well.

      • Skye was near the middle section (that had the years from 1960s – 1990s engraved on the wall) when she mentions Bucky. I was confused by that.

  9. I’m still enjoying this show, and will buy the DVD set when it comes out. Room for improvement, yes, but decent enough and getting better as time goes on. The Bobbsey twins geniuses, Melinda may, and Skye don’t do that much for me, but I do like Coulson and Ward. Melinda May and Ward having a fling does not do anything for me…she is too “beyotchy”. I can’t see that Skye contributes much to this top-notch super-spy team other than looking good in her undies. Still, the plots are getting better, as is the action. This was never expected to be the tent-pole some people apparently thought it would be (sure, I could hope for that too, but let’s be realistic as to the fact that this was just supposed to be a supporting show in the first place, not the main event). I hope it gets a second season, but it may not if people don’t quit beyond over-the-top critical. If I were the writers, I would add a couple bigger Marvel names (maybe not their “A” list) to mollify those disappointed that Coulson’s resurrection was not something bigger. Maybe introduce Moon Knight or tease a bit more about characters like matt Murdock, Danny Rand, and Luke Cage, who will all get an actual showing on Netflix soon. It couldn’t hurt…!

  10. plot series twist: coulson is actually the REAL winter soldier.

  11. “how we could have a show that didn’t have Iron Man in it”

    I just think that maybe they missed the point that the best way to replace Iron Man/etc. I would have bought into this show if it struck me as any good, regardless of whether any superhero or movie character made a cameo. I wrote it off not because there was no Iron Man, but because it didn’t seem any good in its own right.

    • so you wrote off the show as no good without ever watching any of it?

  12. I’ve always felt this show has suffered under the weight of all its requirements: be a procedural but with arcs, be a show about a spy organization but don’t use guns, engage average TV viewers but keep hardcore fans happy (impossible), integrate with Marvel Movie-verse but be an independent TV show, tie-in Marvel properties but don’t overstep bounds set by Marvel, and whatever else the bosses at ABC, Marvel, and Disney want done. New shows have enough trouble without dealing with an identity crisis like that. Plus I get the feeling the Whedons didn’t have much time to plan and get this show off the ground. So, just staying positive here, I like to think this is all something of a fumbling start that they can hopefully fix by season’s end.

  13. Well the Studio exec guy is hardly gonna come out and say, No No no,, the last 9 episodes are all really S***t as well.

  14. this show is not as good as Lost, but it seems like they’re trying to recapture that magic of everyone wondering “WHAT’S IN THE EFFING HATCH!” in season 1. The problem is, that answer was a let down and we won’t be fooled again.

    9 episodes is a long time and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect it to evolve.

    The question is, does AoS have anything to offer the MCU? We’ve seen minimal trickle down tie ins from the movies, but will the end of this season offer up anything that they will plug into the the larger MCU?

    They need something to happen that justifies acknowledging the show in a movie. Even a a cameo from someone during Captain America will do.

  15. This show (which I still hold out hope for) is exhibit A in the case for all nepotism laws.

  16. I´ve been enjoying the show in the last episodes…
    Its clear for me that the heart of the show is Skye, but I dont particularly like Fitz. he has this bad air/bad vibe around him. the characters needs to die.

    Also, can someone please tell me why the show is returning until feb 4?
    first the christmas hiatus.. now this?

    • I think they want to end the season around the same week Captain America opens.

  17. It would be cool if the Clairvoyant were Samuel Sterns from The Incredible Hulk (even cooler if Tim Blake Nelson came back to play him). Last we saw, he’d gotten some of Banner’s irradiated blood on a cut in his head, and his head was starting to warp.

    I don’t remember what powers The Leader had in the comics, but the Clairvoyant could easily be him….

    • From Wikipedia:

      Powers and abilities
      The Leader has superhuman mental acumen, as a result of his exposure to an explosion of gamma-irradiated waste. He possesses enhanced intuition, pattern solving, information storage and retrieval, and logical and philosophical structuring. His ability to predict probable outcomes of tactical and strategic scenarios is so advanced that it borders on clairvoyance…

      • The problem with the Leader theory is that Marvel studios does not seem interested in doing anything with the Hulk, let alone anything related to the one Hulk movie. Bringing the Leader back would mean having to re-introduce the character, since some casual viewers may not have seen the the Hulk or remember the bit when the scientist changed at the end. And putting the Leader on this show will just ignite the calls for another Hulk movie, which Marvel studios dances around now at it is.

        • Good points. But a bigger problem than that is they used The Leader/Sterns in Fury’s Big Week, the comic. I didn’t know that when I posted, and I think they consider FBW canon, so there’s no way that they’ll let the Clairvoyant be The Leader.

          Maybe it’s Charles Xavier ;)

  18. I have been a pretty harsh critic of this show since its start (cuz it sucks pretty bad), but I’m encouraged by this. At least they realize a little bit that they need to make some changes.

    Looking forward to the rest of the season.

  19. The clairvoyant is Loki!! o.O Haha, I don’t why that idea came to my mind, though I think it COULD make sense with what they said, it would explain why Sif’s appearance would be ”integral” to the story. There are just two things that oppose my theory: How would they bring Tom Hiddleston in… and why would Loki work on something like Centipede and controlling people with devices in their heads when he can just control them with sorcery(Though in the comics he can do it from Asgard, in The Avengers he seemed to need the sceptre…), so, again, I don’t know why the idea came to my mind xD

  20. I known it does wierd, I think Skye the tech girl will turns out to be Spider-Woman. I known they can’t have Spider-Man in the Avengers,but I think they will bring in Spider-Woman instead. I believe Skye wasn’t her real name,because she was adopted. I think her real name is Jessica Drew or Julia Carpenter. Skye does looks like Julia, but she have a similar background to 616′s Jessica. I think she will be a combinations of those two. Well, She does reminds me of Mattie Franklin,because Skye also has Mattie’s personality. I wonders Skye have both powers from Julia and Jessica.

  21. This guy Paul Lee is clearly a DC fanboy and biased against Agents of SHIELD, how dare he quote ratings numbers that mean nothing. Oh wait…..

    This sounds like a basketball coach who’s team is down by 20 being interviewed at the start of the fourth quarter. We were not performing well for the 3/4 of the game, but we will some how be nearly perfect down the stretch. Hope it doesn’t end in a letdown.

  22. My wife and I actually like the show, but if I wasn’t a fanboy, it’s debatable that we would know that this show has anything to do with the Avengers. Most of our friends strongly dislike the show. They watched expecting to see some of Marvel’s superheroes make cameo appearances. Unless Marvel can get more super hero action, I can’t see this show lasting another full season.

  23. If there really is a tie in between Siff’s appearance and the Clairvoyant maybe he is Asgardian or from one of the other realms. Maybe the Enchantress?

  24. … and can that plane look any more CGI ?

  25. I still say the biggest problem with this show are the characters. So unless they’re planning on getting rid of at least half the team, I don’t know how it’s going to get any better.

    • That’s interesting. Maybe she could be Dazzler, if Fox sells them the rights and Hell host the Winter Olympics.

  26. Comparing Arrow to Agents of SHIELD is apples to oranges. If Arrow had sucked in it’s first nine episodes it probably would have been yanked after season 1 or sooner. AoS has has had no threat of cancellation so there has been no incentive for quality versus blandness.

  27. I thought arrow was good and watchable out the gate. I could barely stomach agent of shields campy boring first couple of eps.

  28. Anyone watching Intelligence? I feel like after just two episodes it’s already better then AoS could hope to be. Feels like it’s the show AoS wants to be. Action, Sci-Fi tech, spies and plenty of mysteries.