ABC’s new fall show, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was way better than I had anticipated, as it mixed drama and action, with cinema-quality special-effects. This is Marvel’s first foray into a live-action TV series, but does have the $1.5 billion, global success of The Avengers to help guide audiences to at least consider tuning into the pilot. This first attempt does not disappoint, but I hope it can maintain this level of quality, particularly with the excellent writing from this, the opening episode.

The Oscar nominated Joss Whedon, screenwriter/director of the hugely successful The Avengers, has again penned and helmed, the pilot episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and even without Tony Stark, Thor or The Hulk gracing the small-screen, it still feels very much like a big-money event. This is in no small part down to the $12 million spent on this opening salvo of the Marvel universe live-action affair.

What Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. doesn’t have in the “superhero” department, more than makes up for in other ways. As mentioned, the writing, but also a great cast of characters for us to admire and/or root for, including good-looking leads. For the female Marvel fans, we have the relatively unknown Brett Dalton, who plays Grant Ward. Ward is very rigid, and thrives on the toughest assignments. However, Ward isn’t very good when it comes to dealing with others, which we discover from his actions, and during one of several amusing scenes, where Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) reads a report out loud for all to hear.

Then we have Jemma Simmons, played by the gorgeous Elizabeth Henstridge, who is a bit of a geek, and lab-tech partner to another super-geek, Leo Fitz (Iain De Caestecker). It’s their job to find out anything high-tech, alien or otherwise, that might be needed by their agents in the service of S.H.I.E.L.D., and they also add plenty of humor while trying to solve problems.

The very cute and sexy Chloe Bennet, another relatively unknown (but not for long), plays Skye, a civilian hacker and general thorn in the side of S.H.I.E.L.D., but who adds, not only sufficient eye-candy, but also nice touches of humour, which rounds off the bouts of action nicely. There are also plenty of references from Skye regarding “Supers” and the shadowy organization, “Rising Tide,” but the REAL superhero references come flawlessly from Agent Coulson, as he quickly explains why we don’t see any of them around. S.H.I.E.L.D. is now recruiting, and Coulson brings in Grant Ward, but Ward isn’t overly impressed by what he sees. But that will soon change when they begin to investigate why the explosion, witnessed at the start of this episode, actually happened, and when they begin to track the latest Super to attract their attention.

The premise of this episode, basically introductory, but no less exciting than what I hope will follow, sees a hooded man, a Super, Mike Peterson (J. August Rochards, Angel), rescue someone from a burning building that has just exploded. Mike is with his young son, and was out looking for a badly needed job when the building blew up. We witness Mike punch through brick to create hand and footholds to rapidly scale a building, and after rescuing a woman, he leaps several storeys to safety, but is caught on camera by Skye. The hacker follows Mike, and gets talking, telling him he’s not safe and will be hunted, but Mike isn’t interested in what she has to say. Mike eventually gets overwhelmed by his new power, and after assaulting his old employer, is now being sought by S.H.I.E.L.D.

Ed’s Grade: A+

TV Review by Ed Blackadder, Lead Entertainment Writer

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