Marvel started making MCU TV shows after Phase 2 began to help fill out the needs of the hardcore fans. I’d argue that there’s a distinct difference in quality and focus between the broadcast shows as a group and the Netflix shows. This post focuses on the shows that appeared on ABC, all of which are now finished.
Full explanation of my ranking system is here. Summary: C is average, A/B is recommended, D is badly made, F is something to avoid.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The first official MCU TV series is actually pretty good, although it starts off pretty meh. One of the good points is that there’s more of a Marvel feel to it than some other series, with superscience, altered humans, inhumans, and aliens. Another good point is that it interacts well with the films: when Winter Soldier reveals the infiltration by Hydra, that affects the TV series as well, and after Age of Ultron and Civil War, the Segovia Accords become a big deal. Not to mention that, aside from the obvious crossover character of Agent Coulson, there’s some cameos of Agent Carter and Nick Fury, as well as one episode about Lady Sif.
On the negative side, some of the story arcs aren’t as good as others. They keep finding ways to keep the Hydra traitor character on the show well past the point of reason, and Coulson (who begins the show having been mysteriously resurrected) dies and returns again so many times it starts getting absurd. I did not enjoy the whole Framework/LMU storyline much, or the Sarge material. The trip to the future lasted a little longer than I would have preferred and started to drag a bit.
I somehow missed the final season of the series. I was waiting for it, but somehow missed the announcement that it was back, then started hearing references to the series being finished. By the time I’d heard about it, none of the episodes were available for free. As of this writing, I still haven’t seen them, although I know they are coming to Netflix, so I will finally get my chance. I do know that they deal with time travel (again) and revive some characters from the Agent Carter series, so I’m looking forward to it.
Peggy Carter is a character from the first Captain America movie. The series is set after the war, with Cap presumed dead because no one knows he’s been frozen alive. So, it’s got a nice period look, has action, but in the typical TV style instead of over-the-top blockbuster style, focuses on secret agent stuff, and has a lot of weird science. Honestly, I like it more than Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., even if technically they are about the same in quality.
Carter is an interesting character, but the series also has Howard Stark, and not the somewhat stodgy version from the Iron Man or Avengers movies, but the flamboyant one from the '40s. His butler, Jarvis, is also an entertaining addition.
Although I recommend tracking this down because it’s well made, you will probably also want to watch this series before watching the last season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
I had high hopes when I heard there was an Inhumans series, but found out almost immediately afterwards that it had already come and gone before I’d even found out about it. It lasted only one season.
I still wanted to track it down, because I had bought the first issue of their stand-alone comic title when it came out and kind of liked the weirdness of it all. I was also comforted by the fact that S.H.I.E.L.D. did a pretty good job laying down the lore of the Inhumans in preparation for their main series.
And… it was OK, but since Medusa has her powers taken away almost immediately, and Karnak soon after, and Black Bolt can’t really use his powers, and Crystal doesn’t seem to do much… well, it’s pretty disappointing. Nobody does anything interesting. It’s mostly about splitting the party and having each group travel back and forth across the island, changing course midway a couple times, like a much less entertaining version of Lost. I can only give this series an average rating. Watch it if you have some time to kill, or are desperate for those few rare moments when they actually do something interesting.
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