I see the Fringe comparison, but I think Fringe did it better. AoS has a problem with tone. I'm not sure if the show is supposed to be taken seriously, or if it's supposed to be a campy comedy. Buffy kinda did both, but not many shows pull that off, and with AoS, I'm really not sure how much I'm actually supposed to care about any of this. The characters are poorly developed and the stories aren't well crafted, so I assume that it's supposed to be like a 1980's action series, where we're not supposed to ask too many questions. But that format really doesn't work today, especially on a show where plotlines are drawn out for the entire season.
I watched Punisher!
First of all, I thought that there were 8 episodes when I started watching, so as those 8 episodes were playing out, I was admiring the pace of the show, and their ability to avoid some of the problems that the other shows had because of their episode count. Then I saw that there were 13 episodes... so... yeah. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the show. I just think that these Netflix/Marvel shows would benefit from fewer episodes, or more standalone episodes where the characters are fighting one-off bad guys.
The show's attempt at a secondary bad guy is Lewis Wilson (played by Daniel Webber, whom I've met and worked with. Great guy, so none of the following comments are meant against him personally), a character who does nothing to help the falsehoods and misrepresentations that TV and movies often depict when dealing with soldiers who are suffering from PTSD. I thought this character's story did little to serve the overall series. If you were to remove most of his scenes, I doubt that there would be any significant damage to the show. In fact, his arc's climax leads to one of the weaker parts of the show.
Lewis holds Curtis hostage, which brings Frank out of hiding and this is how he is revealed to the world. Now they know that he is alive, and for some reason, they think that he was responsible for what happened to Curtis. This makes no sense, since Curtis lived and was therefore the only witness to what happened. As such, he would have obviously told the police that Frank *saved* him. And he probably would have spoken with Karen, just for good measure (in case the police chose to cover up Frank's heroics).
Instead, Curtis isn't seen or heard from again until the series has played out.
Lewis is used to show us how much Frank cares about Karen, but I don't think this required as much time in developing the Lewis character as we got.
Billy Russo was another problematic character. The reveal of him being a bad guy wasn't shocking, but it also wasn't well done. There was no attempt made to smooth the lines of who he was and who he now is. There was no attempt to rationalize how Frank's old brother-like friend was now okay with the slaughter Frank's entire family. There was a chance to do some really interesting things with the character and how he could rationalize all of those bad things, or maybe even convince himself that they're not bad at all. Instead, he transformed into a mustache twirling bad guy who occasionally pretends to care about Frank.
For a show a bout guns and skill, the show failed on a lot of technical levels, just to get the story to where the writers wanted it. The use of "silencers" in crowded buildings is a Hollywood trope that is just comedic at this point, and this show is aimed at people who know how suppressors work, so a good part of the audience was probably cringing when the Hollywood silencer showed up. Also, the way the federal agents handled themselves in certain scenes was baffling, but it led to things like Stein's death, which would have been harder to accomplish if they... thought about it. I mean, how did he beat Madani to the confrontation outside when she was directly behind Russo and left Stein behind?
For all of the complaints that I have, I actually didn't hate the show. Frank was a compelling character. I would have loved to have seen more of him hitting the streets and taking out lower-level criminals, but maybe that's what future seasons are for. I think that his relationships on the show were really interesting (aside from the Billy Russo mess). The action was exciting.
Even with too many episodes, I didn't think that the show had as many pacing issues as Jessica Jones or Luke Cage did. And its plot was much more coherent than The Defenders.
My current ranking of the Netflix/Marvel shows, from best to worst:
Luke Cage (I didn't want to be absurd and waste too much space on this board by putting in the full amount of distance between the other shows and Luke Cage)