For their first live-action series and cooperation, ABC’s Agents of SHIELD may not have been the monster success the network and Marvel had hoped for, but they do have a strong performer (particularly with DVR) and a devoted following of fanboy fans.
Both viewers and critics have been harsh on the show, with many giving up when Agents of SHIELD struggled early on and doubting whether it was much more than a procedural with a Marvel twist. The program, which is managed by Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon, a show-running duo, required some time to establish itself and achieve a satisfying balance between being a straightforward procedural and a Marvel production, according to ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee.
In this interview, Tancharoen and Whedon actors from Agents of SHIELD (Dollhouse, Dr. Horrible, Spartacus) openly discuss how to manage expectations, strike a balance, listen to fans, prepare for season two, the Captain America tie-in, and address any potential dissenters.
Are you pleased with how the show is performing?
Tancharoen: Particularly with DVR, we are. On a Tuesday at 8 p.m., our audience is unable to attend, but they undoubtedly watch. We have devoted viewers.
Whedon: There is definitely a lot of anticipation surrounding this Marvel property, but we’ve settled into finding our audience and expanding in an organic and regular way that a show would while still hoping to appease that sizable and vocal Marvel fan following.
Is there a concerted push to go after a specific demo at this point?
Whedon: Not at this time. Our primary goal is to develop engaging tales while maintaining the Marvel brand. Four-quadrant shows are simple to describe but extremely challenging to execute. In terms of the ratio of male to female viewers, Marvel has a distinct slant over ABC. We’re convinced that people will enjoy the stories if they’re entertaining and if they’re not only about action, emotion, or humor, but rather about all three of those things. We’re just concentrating on the narrative and working to make everyone who watches the program happy.
Will, whatever connection you have to the new Captain America movie help illustrate how important it is to watch this series as it is to watch the movies?
Whedon: We want people to enjoy watching our series on their own. We don’t want to merely create a webisode to serve as a bridge between the movies. For us, movies are similar to webisodes.
Tancharoen: We want people to enjoy watching our series on their own. We don’t want to merely create a webisode to serve as a bridge between the movies. For us, movies are similar to webisodes. You can also read: Is Sam in Keep Breathing A Drug Smuggler?