‘Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ returns to ABC with space adventure

The series returns with a two-hour premiere Friday.

Season five of “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” which kicks off Friday with a two-hour premiere, finds the team aboard a spaceship with some strange creatures on board.

After a season spent tangling with the otherworldly, flame-headed Ghost Rider and barely escaping a terrifying virtual reality known as the Framework, the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. might deserve a little time on their home turf. Nope. They’re in space.

Why they are there is unclear. But finding out is all part of the fun, according to executive producer Jeph Loeb.

“Usually the audience knows more, but this is the first time . . . the audience and the team are both unraveling the mystery of what’s happened to them and what’s going to happen to them,” Loeb told reporters in October during a roundtable at New York Comic Con. “You get to go on the adventure with them.”

The show follows agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) and his team of spies, scientists and superpowered agents as they take on forces of evil. While it is solidly part of the larger Marvel Universe (Gregg played Coulson in several Marvel films), crossovers with other shows and movies are few and far between.

“It turns out we have the Infinity Gauntlet,” Gregg joked, a reference to the upcoming film Avengers “Infinity Wars,” which dropped its first trailer Wednesday.

But Gregg and other cast members said the show succeeds on its own with strong characters and storylines, heaping praise on the writers for keeping it fresh.

“We’ve been doing this a long time, we’re about to have our 100th episode,” said Elizabeth Henstridge, who plays Agent Jemma Simmons. “And we still get scripts and can’t wait to read them. They are not afraid to try new things.”

Gregg said the new season feels like a “completely different show,” adding it “gets better every year. Not a lot of shows can say that.”

Loeb promised more surprises this season, including Dove Cameron (Disney’s “Liv and Maddie”) in a role yet to be revealed.

“Whatever we can get away with, we’ll get away with,” Loeb said. “We’re S.H.I.E.L.D. We’re still the heavyweight champions of the Marvel TV universe.”

ON TV: “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” season five premieres Friday at 8 p.m. on ABC

Lisa L. Colangelo