Attempting to Rescue TV From Time-Shifted FutureMarvel TV chief eyes live-event viewing for ABC’s new action drama 'S.H.I.E.L.D.' 8/12/2013 12:01:00 AM Eastern
Why This Matters
Television's first primetime
show-is ABC's latest attempt to win TV's most coveted affirmation: live-event gold.
No pilot in recent memory has been shrouded in as much secrecy
as Marvelâ€™s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It was no stunt when ABC screened the show for critics at the TCA press
tour last week, and a Marvel security
team patrolled the perimeter
with infrared binoculars to hunt
down anyone recording. That secrecy
has only fueled growing interest
in the Joss Whedon project
that will kick off an entirely new
Tuesday ABC lineup on Sept. 24. Jeph Loeb, an
executive producer on S.H.I.E.L.D. and head of
Marvel Television, upped B&Câ€™s clearance to
talk about how the show will avoid the curse of
superheroes in primetime, along with its female
appeal. An edited transcript follows.
Superhero franchises have clicked as films,
but on TV theyâ€™ve often been niche shows.
How will â€˜S.H.I.E.L.D.â€™ get broad appeal?
I donâ€™t think we see ourselves as a superhero
show. Our ad line is â€œnot all heroes are super.â€
Our show is about people out there investigating
the weird, the unusual. At its best, Heroes
was really about people who had extraordinary
abilities in a very ordinary world.
When it became extraordinary
people in an extraordinary world,
it lost some of its specialness.
Weâ€™re not in that worldâ€”we really
are in a very real world.
The thing thatâ€™s most important
to us is, what weâ€™re trying to
do is bring an urgency back to television. That
in a world where you can watch TV anywhere
you want any time you want, the notion of actually
watching it Tuesday nights at 8 oâ€™clock
on ABC is actually not the norm. What weâ€™re
trying to do is recreate that experience.
Why all the secrecy surrounding the pilot?
We live in a world where news of any kind,
whether gossip or fact-based news, is on 24/7.
Those people want to know all the time what itâ€™s
going to be. If we can be successful at being able
to contain what it is weâ€™re doing so that youâ€™re
driven to see whatâ€™s going on, then thatâ€™s fantastic.
And then yes, some of thatâ€™s just Marvel.
ABC has had problems in the past with
shows that skew male appealing to their
core female audience. Have you been
aware of that through development?
No one does female heroes better than Joss
Whedon. You canâ€™t have the kind of success that
Marvelâ€™s had in motion pictures, where Marvelâ€™s
The Avengers is the No. 3 grossing film of
all time. Iron Man 3, which just came out this
summer, is on its way to being No. 5 [on the
top-grossing list]. That doesnâ€™t happen because
only men go to see those movies. That happens
because families go to see it, because women go
to see it. Marvel is now known for being more
than a â€œsuperhero show.â€ Itâ€™s being known for
events. What we try to do at Marvel is create an
epic adventure that has very strong human spirit
in it and a nice little healthy dose of humor.
ABC Entertainment Group president Paul
Lee said youâ€™re talking about other Marvel
shows. Any hints about whatâ€™s in the works?
That would be a Level 7 question, and Iâ€™m
not cleared to say that.
The CW is talking about developing more
in the DC Comics space. Do you see a saturation
point for how many of these comic
book adaptations can exist on TV?
When Iron Man came out, all the newspapers
said, â€œThatâ€™s it, there is no more room for
these types of movies.â€ The reality, at least
from Marvelâ€™s point of view, is weâ€™re just telling
good stories. We donâ€™t see ourselves as
the same as Arrow. Thatâ€™s a superhero show.
Our show begins with the idea that thereâ€™s
an organization that exists within the government
that goes out and looks for things that
should or shouldnâ€™t be kept secret. Thatâ€™s a
pretty relatable idea for people, particularly
in this day and age.
Marvel Television has been around since
2010. This will be your first primetime live-action show. What are your other
We'd like to
conquer the universe. Marvel Television isn't just live action, it's also
animation. We have three series on Disney XD Sunday mornings. That's very
important to us. It's very important for us to be able to reach out to a
younger demographic so they can start to know what Marvel's all about. Marvel
Television did start in the latter part of 2010. For us to have a show on the
air two years later, that's pretty good... What you want to be able to do is have
someone who has a vision that's clear, and carries that vision through 100
episodes, 200 episodes. And so to be able to do that, you've got to pick the
right people and work with them and create something that doesn't just win in
its own little unique audience, but has that ability to be able to reach
everybody. And if we can do that, and we only do one a year, that's fantastic.
At the moment, our goal is to make S.H.I.E.L.D.
the best show that we can. What we do in the future is what we do in the
future. Obviously there is more to come.
Would Joss be able to continue his
involvement for 100 episodes considering his movie career?
We take as much of Joss as we can get. It's a little like gamma radiation.
It's pretty exciting when you have it, but you know you can't have it all the