Last fall, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD was the clear outlier in the Marvel universe: a failure. The ABC TV series, spun off of The Avengers built to serve as connective tissue between blockbuster film openings (and also, purportedly, to entertain), landed with a "who cares?" as critics waffled and ratings failed to impress. It dutifully marched to the completion of its 22-episode first season and was renewed for a second one. But the widespread impression was of a fizzled attempt at blockbuster TV now only being propped up by a network and studio that didn't want to give up on its tie-in to the films.
Now I'm here to tell you that, a handful of episodes into its second season, Agents of SHIELD is a good TV show. Maybe even a very good TV show.
The truth of the matter is that Agents of SHIELD has been better for some time now. It's been that way since at least the home stretch of season one, when Bill Paxton showed up to go crazy and the entire power structure of SHIELD collapsed around Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team. In the wake of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, it was a whole new ballgame in the Marvel universe, and that for sure included its modestly rated, critically dismissed small-screen venture. It's taken a few more months before I was ready to say it in public, but I'm coming out of the closet: Agents of SHIELD is probably among my four or five most anticipated shows in a given week. And, contrary to this well-argued Salon piece about the superiority of DC's crop of TV shows, it's the best superhero series on television.