ABC is optimistic that S.H.I.E.L.D. will become a series, but doesn't guarantee it
When the announcement came down that Disney and Marvel were developing a S.H.I.E.L.D. television series to air on ABC, everyone thought it was a foregone conclusion that it would begin airing as soon as possible. Well, ABC president Paul Lee is not so fast to order a full season of the show.
Lee told Zap2It that we haven't yet seen the pilot. We fast-tracked that one before the others; we'll get to see it a lot earlier than the others. We're very hopeful that's going to go forward to series. We'll build our marketing campaign early for it ... By the way, the script's great. I don't want to jinx it, but I'm very excited about it.
That doesn't sound like a guarantee of any sort. ABC is having a rough couple of years in the ratings despite big success from ONCE UPON A TIME. Other genre series like 666 PARK AVENUE met quick deaths so the studio is banking on a sure thing. You would think after the box office success of THE AVENGERS that a series using superheroes would be a home run. I guess NO ORDINARY FAMILY is still a painful memory for the folks at ABC.
Lee went on to say that Joss Whedon is deeply involved in the project: [Joss] is very engaged with the series if we go to series. He's already working on scripts. We shot it in Los Angeles to make sure he's free to work across his feature life and television life. But I love to see Joss, who of course has made many great television shows in his day, enjoying television as much as movies.
S.H.I.E.L.D. has all the signs of being a hit, but superheroes have not had a great translation to television. DC heroes have generated well received series like SMALLVILLE and ARROW, but Marvel has not had a series since THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Seeing as the Marvel cinematic universe stars are not likely to appear in the series aside from Agent Coulson, the lack of starpower may be a concern as well.
In the end, I am still pretty sure the show will air. Marvel is on a great winning streak and this is too good an opportunity to pass up. I would put money down that this begins airing in the fall of this year.