Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. just aired their season 3 mid-season finale. The finale was fantastic, but if you had asked me 2 years ago if the show would be on its third season, I would have laughed. AoS was one of those shows I eagerly awaited but didn’t feel a connection to when it first aired. The show was what I expected, but it was pretty cheesy when it began and like a good chunk of people, I fell off after only 3 episodes. ABC, though, didn’t let the decline in ratings or reviews get to them and stuck with the show.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. would go on to air episodes that tied into the Marvel Cinematic Universe and show the resulting consequences of those films’ actions. I returned to the show when Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out to see how those events played out on the small screen and I was pleasantly surprised. The show would show the uglier side of betrayal and give the audience a taste of true defeat in this world Marvel had created. This was a brilliant move on the network’s part, as it made me go and watch the episodes I skipped and continue watching the show each week.
The bittersweet feeling I have about this is that not every network allows for their shows to really bloom. Case in point, Constantine. The show was axed after 13 (absolutely fantastic) episodes, leaving die-hard fans hanging with the overall plot unresolved. While I admit the pilot gave the show a rocky start, each episode after allowed for great improvement and moved the story along to where I wanted to know what was going to happen next. NBC did not air many tv spots, and the few they did were during commercials breaks for the show itself, because someone thought because you are watching Constantine that you might be interested in our other show, Constantine…
On top of the poor promotional efforts, the show was moved to a new time slot where it would die an inevitable death. But fans did not give up and created a huge social media campaign to get the character back on the air, whether it was with NBC or another network. “Nerd King” Stephen Amell (star of CW’s Arrow) even jumped in to help his friends stating that he would love to have a crossover or to share his network with the troubled show. Ultimately the show was officially cancelled and contracts had run out, but fans were treated to Constantine star, Matt Ryan, reprising the role during a 4th season episode of Arrow, leading to the social media campaign gaining new life. Currently no plans to bring the character back full time have been announced, but rumors circulate about potentially having Constantine join another CW show, Legends of Tomorrow, in its second season.
Speaking of Arrow, that was another show that when it was announced, fans of the character laughed at the idea of CW doing a show about Oliver Queen. Many saw this as another Smallville and considered it D.O.A. before it even aired. Even with the first few episodes, fans didn’t like the costume or the fact Ollie wasn’t called Green Arrow, but CW pushed the show and said to keep watching. The network wore their support of the show on their sleeve and persuaded everyone to keep their faith in the show and the payoff was worth it. 4 seasons in, along with 2 seasons of the incredible Flash spin-off, the ability to guest star Constantine, and another spin-off slated to premiere next year… That’s some incredible dedication to your creators, a huge gamble in the world of tv and it paid off over and over again.
But why did a show that had its own beautiful idea get destroyed before it had a chance and Agents get the second chance it needed? Like Arrow, AoS had a network that worked with its creators to help mold and expand its plot enough to keep it fresh. A network that promotes the show during other popular programming so that maybe those on the fence might check it out. Maybe just the Marvel name was enough for them to let it go a little longer to see it grow.
ABC put faith in a show that saw a dip in ratings and the payoff was huge. The show continues to pay fan service and introduce twists that most will never see coming. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. expands on the mythos of Hydra and introduced the first Inhumans to the Cinematic Universe, building that world so that the movie may come out with more than just fan boys being excited for it. The show also continues to be the main connection to the world we first glimpsed in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Hopefully other networks will look at ABC and even CW about taking properties that no one expected to work and giving them the adequate amount of time to develop a story and gain traction so they can flourish and become something greater than both the network and the fans could have ever expected.