Unlike with Dollhouse, I found myself comparing this first episode to the first episode of Buffy from, jeez, so many years ago now. Does that make me old? If so, can't imagine any better reason than being nostalgic over the original Buffy release. But for people going in and expecting something A. Kitsch, B. Cheap looking or C. Mildly setting up what is to come, they are going to find their expectations... outdone.
When Joss first made Buffy the Vampire Slayer, they were running out of one corridor for the entire set of a school, actual graveyards that the vampires were rising out of. He had not just made more than a million dollars on a hit movie in the same basic franchise. And, of course, while Buffy did have a message to share, largely it didn't take itself all that seriously, and that silliness was part of what made especially season one so great.
S.H.I.E.L.D. has a budget. Boy, does S.H.I.E.L.D. ave a budget! From the opening scene, you feel like you are watching a movie on a TV screen. This series is also not your mild mannered anything. It has a pacing that will knock you flat on your ass if you aren't watching. Like the forty minute fight sequence in The Avengers, it doesn't seem to drag. Joss' expected witticisms drive the story and the character interactions, from Agent Coulson's miraculous return all the way to the end credits.
Highlights for me:
- J. August Richards reprised his place as a recurring Joss actor and was fantastic.
- Cobie Smulders made a guest appearance at the same time as juggling her new season of How I Met Your Mother.
- Some people complained about the cop out that was Coulson's death in The Avengers only for him to be pulled back out for this series. I think they will find a competent explanation in this episode. I also don't think it will be the last we hear of it.
- The members of the new team are all striking and individual, though I will admit a certain bias to Sky already.
In conclusion, S.H.I.E.L.D. was well worth the wait. Now, in addition to each weeks' new episodes, we only have Thor: 2 to look forward to!