On the surface, it seems obvious that people pit ABC's "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" against The CW's "Arrow." They're backed by rival comic book powerhouses and air on competing networks. But once you dig beyond the surface similarities of the two series, it's clear that they're both striving to be very different shows.
That's why it's been driving me crazy that we can't seem to go a day anymore without seeing some sort of headline comparing one series against the other. It's not even the shows themselves, but their main actors' attitudes that are being compared and contrasted, and often with "Agents of SHIELD" coming out looking the worse for wear.
"Agents of SHIELD" is not "Arrow." Let's just get that out of the way up front. Both shows have come in with different stipulations and goals. "Arrow" needed to find the way to balance a serious, epic superhero story with the requisite sexiness needed to be a CW hit. It did that. "Agents of SHIELD" needs to find a way to balance being its own standalone series about people living in a superhero world with being the TV show that ties together the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's still working on it.
It goes without saying that "Arrow" might be succeeding right now where "Agents of SHIELD" isn't. After all, "Arrow" has had an extra year under its belt to perfect a great formula for success at The CW. But let's not forget that "Arrow" wasn't an immediate hit, either. An audience of die-hard comic book fans was skeptical of the series when it first premiered, and it's taken time and patience both on the part of the showrunners and on the part of the audience to get "Arrow" to its positive standing in Season 2.
Give "Agents of SHIELD" that room to breathe too. Yes, there were some clunky episodes in Season 1, but the first season isn't even over yet. The showrunners are hearing your criticisms, and obviously whatever they're tweaking on the show is working. The series' episodes have been getting better and better ever since the midseason hiatus, and episode 13, "TRACKS," was one of "Agents of SHIELD's" best. At this rate, by this time next year everyone will be obsessed with this series and its characters and will have moved on to some other freshman superhero show to pick on -- like, say, "Gotham."
The recent success stories in superhero TV shows have had a similar pattern: The series evolve. Looking back at a show like "Smallville," it ended a completely different show than it started as. And that's great.
"Arrow" has evolved since when it premiered in Season 1, and "Marvel's Agents of SHIELD" will do the same. Pitting one against the other and bashing "Agents of SHIELD" because it's not the same as "Arrow" isn't doing anyone any favors. These aren't the same show, but they can end up being just as good in different ways. Just have the patience to let that happen.
Photo/Video credit: ABC/The CW
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