In pleasant -- if unsurprising -- news for fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the pilot episode of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." was an unmitigated success for its debut episode, drawing in 11.9 million viewers with a 4.6 rating amongst adults 18-49 according to EW.com. Those statistics make it the highest-rated TV drama premiere in nearly four years.
EW goes on to rightly note that "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." had some tough competition in its 8:00 PM time slot, which makes the achievement all the more impressive. Marvel's freshman television series tied the rating for NBC's singing reality competition "The Voice," going forward to beat it wholesale between 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM. The show also beat the rating for CBS's long-running "NCIS," though it lost out in total viewership.
"Our limitations are time and money. We try to build stories that aren't dependent on that," executive producer Jed Whedon told CBR prior to the premiere. "We always need to have a little bit of Marvel cool, but we don't want to build stories that are dependent on giant action sequences, because there are times when we just can't do it. Building from character-first gets us to a place where those things are icing on an already tasty cake."
The premiere of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." is certainly reason to celebrate, though time will only tell if the show is able to keep up its domination of its time slot. It does, however, possibly encourage more shows based on comic books to anchor programming schedules -- like, for instance, the rumored in-development "Agent Carter" series, Fox's recently-announced "Gotham" show based on the DC Comics Batman Universe, or even the CW's potential "Arrow" spinoff "The Flash."
"Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." airs Tuesdays at 8 PM on ABC