Things have finally been turning around for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the timing couldn't be better. With Captain America: The Winter Soldier redefining the clandestine group's place in the Marvel universe - and breaking box office records in the process - the ABC series' tie-in episode, 'Turn, Turn, Turn' managed to keep the universe-spanning story running. The only problem: the series hit a ratings low in the process.
It's important not to put too much weight into this report, since Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. hasn't enjoyed the ratings numbers that Marvel would have hoped for since it first launched. But with a highly hyped episode tying directly to the current king of the box office, not to mention the promise that a major character from the film will be returning for the series' finale (and even more before then), this slip in ratings is as worrisome as it is surprising.
The 'Turn, Turn, Turn' episode suffered its lowest ratings among adults 18-49 to date, with the rest of ABC's lineup suffering a drop as well. It's a shame too; despite the episode that set up the events of The Winter Soldier being not perfect, 'Turn, Turn, Turn' managed to tackle the task of cross-media synergy exceptionally well (read our review) - not to mention, a closing scene that will have even casual fans talking over the next week. But none of that matters if the people don't tune in.
It's possible that the numbers may bounce back for next week's episode, given the ramifications that HYDRA's emergence will have on the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. universe, as well as the word of mouth that will continue to spread after the 'Turn, Turn, Turn' twist ending. But the question that will undoubtedly be on every skeptical viewer's mind has to be how it's possible that a blockbuster powerhouse like The Winter Soldier had apparently zero impact on the Marvel Universe's only TV series (in terms of audience size)?
The most obvious conclusion (at least, in out estimation) seems to be that no matter how Marvel may see the future of their comic book universe developing, the connections between TV and film are nowhere near as concrete as fans had hoped. With the tie-in episode receiving not just mediocre viewership, but the lowest in series history, it would be fair to argue that there is next to no connection between TV and film whatsoever. At least, as far as mass audiences are concerned.
Whatever the case, Disney and the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showrunners have some serious issues to tackle in the near future; and that's not even considering the need to reshape their series based on the movie universe's changing landscape. And regardless of how well-executed fans found the cross-media tie-in, the number of them seems to keep dwindling.
What did you think of the tie-in? Is the link between TV and film as non-existent as it may seem, or do you see some other factors at work? Sound off in the comments.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. returns next Tuesday with "Providence" @8pm on ABC. You can check out a preview of next week's episode below:
Follow Andrew on Twitter @andrew_dyce.
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