Marvel Studios and ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was an experiment in multi-media synergy, so it didn't come as a huge shock when the show's first season started its dance in a rather clunky fashion. However, the second half of the season saw an uptick in quality, even before the tie-in with developments in Captain America: The Winter Soldier really kicked the series up a notch. Clark Gregg, who leads the show's ensemble as Agent (?) Phil Coulson, is promising that this trend will continue, with the upcoming season two.
One of the complaints frequently voiced about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s first season is that, in the beginning, the show was geared too much towards replicating the formula for success from past series by co-creator Joss Whedon - giving rise to a television series that often bordered on being painfully homogenous at times. However, as show-runners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon moved the series away from episodic territory into more serialized storytelling turf, the show began to resemble a more sophisticated and adult espionage adventure - one that still offers pulpy fun - and thus, justified its being renewed for a second season, from a creative perspective.
Gregg, who's been out and about promoting his upcoming film Trust Me (which he wrote, directed, and starred in), told Collider that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s second season is going to continue moving in the same direction as the final third of season one:
“It’s going to be lo-fi. You’re going back to basics. You’ve got to rebuild S.H.I.E.L.D. from the ground up in a much more dangerous world where your group is outlawed. So it feels like the early, Sean Connery James Bond with the brass knuckles and not afraid to knock somebody off."
Sean Connery-era James Bond style antics still leaves plenty of room for humor and playfulness, of course. Reading into Gregg's comments, it sounds as though Agents of S.H.I.E.LD.'s second season will, tone-wise, be in keeping with the first season's finale, "Beginning of the End", striking closer to the mood and vibe of the Captain America sequel - which is pleasing news, all things considered. The continuation of the serialized narrative format would likewise be welcome, as this next season looks to provide the sort of intimate exploration of the aftermath of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s collapse that The Winter Soldier did not - in addition to diving even deeper into the series mythos, to answer some of those burning questions left over after season one.
Gregg also touched on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s rough start and wavering in the ratings - which, as he fairly points out, can also be partly attributed to the way that the first season was aired - and why things will be for the better, when season two begins its run:
“I thought there were so many things stacked against us last year, and one of them was where the ABC television schedule would put us on for three episodes and then take us down for four weeks. Nobody could get a momentum going and when the show started to be on consistently and having story that carried over in an episodic way, that’s when things started to click. So the great thing about the announcement was, A., we’re moving to nine, where it can be a little darker, like I think Marvel needs to be. Then they’re going to show, I believe it’s ten ['Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' episodes], eight of ['Agent Carter'], then twelve [more 'Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.' episodes]…For the most part, this is straight runs of our show, which is when I think it really works."
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two, as Gregg pointed out, is going to be split in half (approximately, anyway), with Marvel Studios and ABC's newest collaboration - eight episodes of the Agent Carter spinoff featuring Hayley Atwell back reprising the eponymous role - filling in the break in-between. That means there will continuously be some TV show based in the Marvel Shared Cinematic Universe airing on Tuesday evenings, beginning this fall - something that we agree with Gregg, as far as that lineup playing to both shows' advantage.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season 2 will begin airing on ABC this fall.