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Agents of SHIELD Showrunners Respond to Criticism, Blame Unrealistic Fan Expectations

Last time Agents of SHIELD showrunners Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen took to the internet to defend their show, a lot of you, our readers, didn’t buy what they had to say. Others of you defended Agents of SHIELD, pointing out that Whedon shows often start out slow and get exponentially better as time goes on. Now, with season one about to come out of its (third? fourth?) mini-hiatus and sink its teeth into the good stuff, Whedon and Tancharoen have responded to their critics yet again, this time in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Do you agree with them this time?

Asked about the valuable lesson they’ve learned so far, the duo talked about pacing, which coincidentally enough is many viewers’ biggest complaint with the show so far: That is drags both in terms of plot and character development. But worry not, says Whedon, because they’re reaching the end of dullsville: “A first-year show has so many growing pains and we’re happy we’re getting the kind of season where we feel like we’re really hitting our stride both in terms of the stuff we’ve played in early and storywise coming to head.”

Tancharoen took a shot at unrealistic fan expectations, noting that “People were expecting to see a Marvel movie every week.” “In the beginning,” she continues, “we may have tried to apply too much to an episode. Now we understand the right balance that we need of scale as well as story and quiet moments in between. That is what our show is about: real people living in this extraordinary world. We’ve found how to lean into that; to show the same great universe as you see in the movies, but through a different lens.”

Whedon emphasizes that point, noting that the only way Agents of SHIELD can live up to its Hulk-sized expectations “is with story and long-term storytelling. That’s the one advantage we have over the films: we can develop story arcs over this period of 22 episodes… We didn’t want to undercut the films by saying, ‘This isn’t special because there’s one every week.’ We took our time early on planting seeds and telling standalone episodes with the concept that these elements would come together in the back half.” And they will: “It’s full throttle from here on out. It’s nice that we’ll be able to run [the last seven episodes of the first season] straight through.”

Now, I don’t watch the show, but my impression of the show’s disappointed fans is that there’s a vast difference between what Whedon and Tancharoen seem to think they want and what they actually want. Tancharoen says “We didn’t want to bombard our new audience—an audience that includes people that aren’t familiar with the Marvel universe—we didn’t to want to bombard them with a superhero week after week.” But—again, correct me if I’m wrong—don’t you guys want less flash, bang, and superhero cameos and more a show that isn’t a boring-ass procedural? Dismissing fans’ concerns by saying they want “a Marvel movie every week” seems tone deaf at best, disrespectful at worst.

But hell. It’s their show, they’ll do what they want with it, and if it gets good, some of those who ditched might give it a second shot. “People seem to be responding” to the way hinted-at storylines finally are coming to fruition, explains Tancharoen. “So to the people that checked out: maybe they’ll watch it on Netflix. That’s the way we watch our TV shows; we let them all pile up and binge watch them all at once. And we are like our audience.”

Well. I think they like their show more than a lot of their audience does.

(via: The Hollywood Reporter)

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