If you’re not watching Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., then you’re missing out on what appears to be the strongest season of the show to date.
When the Marvel Cinematic Universe officially launched, there were seemingly no plans for television shows tied into the new universe’s continuity. That, of course, changed when Joss Whedon teamed with his brother Jed Whedon and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen to develop Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. At launch, the series was meant to serve as a tie-in to the films while bringing back fan favorite Phil Coulson, who famously died at the hands of Loki in 2012’s The Avengers. Being the first Marvel series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. proved to be a ratings smash in 2013 when it premiered on ABC, only to suffer from backlash from fans and critics alike over the course of its first season.
Marvel fans had hoped for the series to be more than a simple tie-in to the films, hoping to see the series expand upon the MCU rather than simply react to things that happened off-screen. This, naturally, led to a decline in viewership, with the show having fallen below 3 million live viewers in recent seasons. However, despite the low ratings, the show has continued to push forward and ultimately prove it’s a worthy companion to the film universe. With the big events we’ve already seen in Season 5, it’s time for lapsed viewers and newcomers alike to give the series another chance.
Throughout the show’s first season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. admittedly suffered from the same issue many shows fall victim to: Struggling to decide what it wanted to be. In the beginning, the series relied heavily on the films, trying desperately to tie into whatever was going on with the Avengers on the big screen, and this proved to be a turn-off for most in search of something new and exciting. Thankfully, S.H.I.E.L.D. managed to course correct halfway through the season when the writers found a way to use the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier to their advantage in “Turn, Turn, Turn.” Still, despite the show’s willingness to take risks, viewers continued to ditch the series and the it failed to recapture the ratings performance of the pilot episode. And yet, even with the decline in viewers, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has managed to do something most television shows wish they could do: Successfully reinvent itself with each new season.
Over the years, Marvel Television has continued to grow, with six shows on Netflix — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Defenders, and The Punisher — one on Hulu (The Runaways), and various entries on ABC (including Agent Carter and Inhumans), but, their greatest success continues to be Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Sure, it isn’t as popular as the others. And yes, ABC may not be the most ideal home for the series as they reportedly wanted to cancel the series after its fourth season. But its difficult to deny that over the course of its five seasons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has proven to be one of — if not the best — comic book series on network television.
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