By mid-May, the broadcast networks must make some tough calls as to which series will return for the 2017-18 TV season, and which… won’t.
As that deadline draws near, TVLine is singling out a few “bubble” shows and sizing up their prospects — based in large part on creative strides (and stumbles) and future potential, but also with a requisite nod to cold, hard numbers.
Next up is a Marvel series that has seen more marvelous days.
THE SHOW | ABC’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Tuesdays at 10/9c)
THE CASE FOR KEEPING | Where S.H.I.E.L.D. used to maddeningly lollygag (and never more so than that pre-Winter Soldier Season 1A), Season 4 has been burning through plot at a very lively clip — due to its plan to span three distinct arcs, starting with Ghost Rider and LMD. The flame-headed former always seemed (and proved) to be an odd fit for the series, but the Aida/LMDs storyline did a nice job of picking up the Darkhold and running with it — though the outing of Robo-May came perhaps an episode or two sooner than we might have expected/wanted?
The ABC series has never been lacking for well-cast, root-for characters — from resurrected leader Coulson to haunted badass May, from hacker-turned-superhero Daisy to genius lovebirds FitzSimmons — even if it never quite knows how to simultaneously service them all, and well. Meanwhile, Mack after all this time still remains a bit of a mystery, while two of the team’s strongest recruits, Bobbi and Lance, got ushered off the canvas a year ago in anticipation of a spinoff that was not meant to be.
THE CASE FOR CUTTING | Heroes are only as good as their villains, and you have to wonder whom Coulson & Co. — having previously battled multiple iterations of Hydra, traitor Grant Ward, Hydra honcho Grant Ward and Inhuman god Grant Ward, plus assorted anti-this/anti-that organizations — could go up against in this season’s third arc, let alone any possible fifth season. Their biggest threat might actually be the Nielsens. To date, Season 4 is averaging a 0.8 demo rating, down 33 percent from last year (and it hasn’t cracked 1.0 since the September opener). Most damning, only Quantico and the unofficially cancelled Conviction rate lower among ABC dramas, while S.H.I.E.L.D. draws the smallest audience of them all (with just 2.48 million weekly viewers).
It is often speculated that S.H.I.E.L.D. gets to skate a bit due to ABC/Marvel corporate synergy, but with an Inhumans series now in the wings (and due for a splashy launch), the Zephyr may want to prepare for a final landing.
Vote below, and then state your own case for keeping or cutting S.H.I.E.L.D.