Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. fans, you aren’t going to like what follows. Recently Variety shared some behind the scenes information on how things are going over at ABC. Generally, the news was pretty negative. A good chunk of the article details the problems Inhumans has had, but there isn’t much new to share there. What did come out, however, is that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was in a very precarious situation before it was finally renewed for a fifth season.
“Inhumans” has not been the only source of friction between ABC and Marvel. Earlier this year, the mandate came down from Disney for ABC to renew its other Marvel drama, “Agents of SHIELD,” despite the desire by some at the network to end the series after four seasons. Having aired on Tuesdays since its inception, “SHIELD” is shifting to Friday nights this season when “Inhumans” finishes its initial eight-episode run.
In a way, this confirms what MCU Exchange has been saying since last December about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and its low ratings. From a TV perspective, it does not perform well enough to justify its continued production. If the show were not related to the overall project of the MCU at Disney, it would not be getting a fifth season. But clearly, Disney sees enough value to it, probably because of its ability to cross-promote the film division, that they “mandated” ABC keep it alive.
In the end, justice is served, in as much as the last season was considered the best by most fans. Creatively the show has hit its stride over time. However it was kept alive, MCU fans will be happy to see it continue to function for another season, this time in space.
A final question this all raises is the future of Marvel and ABC TV. Jeph Loeb continues to say ABC is the first option for Marvel. One cannot help but notice that the critical and commercial success of ABC’s shows has generally underperformed other platforms. If Inhumans performs as poorly as many pundits predict, and S.H.I.E.L.D. remains at its current level of ratings, might ABC have to start from scratch with some new programs next year? At what point does ABC give up on producing shows that they don’t believe in? Or will they continue to get marching orders from Disney?