The Marvel Cinematic Universe TV show power rankings

A rainy New York City weekend, and general laziness on my part, helped free the time needed for me to kick back, grab a snack, and dive into Luke Cage. We live in super-sensitive spoiler culture, so I won’t dive into many details about the show. I’ll say this, however: It’s pretty entertaining, despite some of many massive beefs in regards to Cage’s motivations and “reluctant hero” shtick. Mahershala Ali, Simone Missick, and Alfre Woodard absolutely slay on screen, and keep the boat from sinking into the Sea of Mediocrity.

But Luke Cage isn’t Marvel’s only TV series. In its extremely brief period of existence, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has radically transformed how Hollywood makes movies. The big studios now seek to emulate Marvel Studios’s comic book-style, interconnected formula with Cinematic Universes of their own; there’s talk of several unified movie series, including those based on G.I. JoeGodzilla, Universal’s monsters, and other hot, and not so hot, properties. A 21 Jump Street and Men In Black crossover, Sony? Please send that uncooked duck back to the kitchen.

The Negative Zone-sized gulf between the MCU and those hastily cobbled together universes has grown, and continues to grow, because Marvel Studios gives a damn about the small screen. Yes, DC has Arrow, Gotham, Supergirl, and other programs on the air, but those shows don’t all exist within the same universe. Here’s a bit of info that’s even more bewildering: Warner Bros, DC Comics’s parent company, has confirmed that the small screen properties won’t tie into the big screen story lines, and that the company will likely recast, say, Oliver Queen if that character movies from TV to feature film. The lack of cohesion is quite perplexing.

Marvel Studios’s “everything’s connected” game plan, however, means that a blind vigilante operates in the same universe as a gun-toting raccoon-like creature. It means that a legendary super-soldier lives in the same world where a super-strong PTSD sufferer battles her demons. The comic book-style cross-pollination ensures that geeks have some Marvel merriment in their lives between the tent pole movie releases, with the potential for big gun characters or story beats to appear on television, and vice versa. Who didn’t love Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury appearance in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. after the fallout of Captain America: The Winter Soldier?

Now that Marvel Studios has five TV properties scattered between ABC and Netflix, the time has come for me to rank these sum’bitches. As with my Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie Power Rankings, this Marvel Cinematic Universe TV Power Rankings stack-ranks Marvel Studios’s properties from best to worst across three categories: Main-Eventers (the must-watch shows), Mid-Carders (flawed, but recommended, shows), and Jobbers (A.K.A., don’t waste your time).

Let’s get the party started.

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I lucked into seeing Letterman before he leaves ‘The Late Show’

April Fools Day is, without question, one of the most-annoying days of the year. An entire 24-hour period based on lies—or more lies than usual—doesn’t make for a particularly good time unless the pranks are skillfully executed (Note: The majority are not). That said, this April Fools Day was a completely different experience for me, because I avoided the shenanigans altogether by sitting in on a David Letterman taping.

Letterman was never my go-to late night host—at least not initially. As an adolescent, I stayed up past my bedtime to watch Johnny. As a teen and 20-something, I was into Arsenio. I didn’t appreciate Dave’s wit until a handful of years later, and by that time, I often crashed before his show aired due to being burnt out by a string of highly stressful jobs. I caught clips on YouTube and Entertainment Tonight whenever a celebrity did or said something stupid on the show. Letterman was always an entertaining gent who cracked wise in the peripheral.

That’s why sitting in the historic Ed Sullivan Theater was such a rewarding experience. I watched an entire episode of The Late Show for the first time in my life. Dave owned the show with a laid back sarcasm and witty banter with the audience,  Senator Al Franken, and the incredibly annoying host of Billy on the Street. It was glorious.

I had one regret after the show wrapped: I had zero photos to preserve the experience, as photography was understandably not allowed in the theater. Then it hit me—the camera ban  was the best thing that happened that afternoon. I didn’t fiddle in my seat adjusting flash and correcting zoom. Letterman, and his incredible house band fronted by Paul Shaffer and featuring jazz great David Sanborn, had my undivided attention for the first time in my life. It was an evening of great punchlines and dazzling musical segments.

There was a two-hour wait period in the time between picking up my tickets and being seated for the show. The impatient New Yorker in me began to bubble up, and I even questioned if the wait would be worth it. It was. Watching the television legend in his final days on the job—Dave exits late night on May 20—was magic. There were a couple of flat jokes, but the set was humorous, topical, and thoroughly enjoyable.

I wish I had done it sooner.

I’m kind of glad that I didn’t.

Image courtesy of CBS.