ABC President Paul Lee answered some questions for Collider at the Television Critics Association Press Tour, and he had some nice things to say about the ratings for Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
It was obviously disappointing that we started with a very high number and it came down. It took a little bit of time to find our sea legs, but now the show is really doing well. Creatively, we are loving what we’re seeing for the back nine. We’re doing a lot of work, and I’m really enjoying doing this with Marvel. We can announce that Lady Sif is coming in, in Episode 15. We’re shooting it now, and that’s going to be absolutely integral to that hour of television. And then, there’s going to be this really cool arc to the end of the season. You’re going to find out who the Clairvoyant is, and it’s going to be very, very cool.
While it's great that ABC is supporting the show, the claim that the show is suddenly doing better in the ratings is a little bit misleading. The show scored a 2.2 in the 18-49 demographic in its last episode, with 6.37 million viewers, still way down from the 11.9 million that watched the series premiere, and about on par with the low end of the show's weekly numbers. This may be enough for ABC to consider it successful, and the doomsday proclamations from the internet as the ratings dropped week after week may have been a bit overzealous, but the show hasn't bounced back. It's settled, and looks like it will stay in the 6-7 million viewer range.
Lee went on to make even more outrageous claims about the show's content:
It did take us a little bit of time to find our sea legs. I think the key to us was really starting to work closely with the studios, and really figure out with our showrunners and all the creative brains, how we could have a show that didn’t have Iron Man in it, but did have an incredible amount of the Marvel universe and an incredible amount of the mythology that went through there. We also took a little bit of time to get the balance between a procedural and an arc. I’m so proud of how they’ve now arced out the last nine episodes. But, that’s something that many shows do, as they go through that.
Wait, what? Perhaps if, by "incredible amount of the Marvel Universe" and "incredible amount of the mythology," Lee actually means incredibly little of any of that, this would be accurate, but I'm starting to wonder if Lee is watching the same show as us? Don't get me wrong - I enjoy Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But among the chief complaints about the show is that it doesn't tie into or reference the wealth of material available from the comics nearly enough. It just seems odd that this neglected aspect would be cited as a selling point for the show.
Lee is right about shows taking time to develop story arcs and characters in the first part of their first seasons, though. The complaints that the show was too episodic and that viewers didn't care about the characters enough were premature, in my opinion, and the show is doing much better in that regard.
In any case, I'm glad that ABC is excited for the show, because it is picking up steam from a narrative standpoint and I hope to continue watching it for years to come. I wouldn't mind checking out the special directors cut with all the Marvel Easter eggs that Paul Lee and about 6 million phantom viewers are apparently watching though. It sounds pretty sweet.
Now cue fanboys yelling at me for "hating on" the show.