‘Agents of SHIELD’ premiere: Is a Hulk-sized rating the only thing acceptable?

The big show -Usually when you have a fall TV premiere, there are only a few things that you can hope for: A decent start in the ratings, and that you can hold on to most of that audience. Occasionally you get a show like “Scandal” that can build dramatically on their audience after the first week, but that phenomenon is reserved mostly for cable, which has shows that are easier to catch up on thanks to them being shorter seasons.

But for Marvel’s “Agents of SHIELD” airing on ABC tomorrow night, things are a little bit different. This is a show that was hyped from the moment it was announced. It has the Whedon brothers on board helping to run the ship, an expensive budget, and familiar faces from “The Avengers” franchise. This is quite possibly the most ambitious project put on by the network since “Lost,” and even more so than “Once Upon a Time” back when it first debuted.

The expectation that we would imagine for the show is pretty simple: It has to start big. Action shows, especially serialized ones, rarely build an audience. “Revolution” started huge last fall, and then was barely acceptable near the end of the first season. Even “Under the Dome,” which was a little more consistent, lost some viewers over time.

We are no mind-readers for ABC executives, but from our standpoint the expectation level has to be simple for “Agents of SHIELD”: If it gets lower numbers than “Sleepy Hollow” did for Fox last week (a very strong 3.5 rating in the 18-49 demographic and over 10 million viewers), it is a big disappointment. That doesn’t mean it’s a flop and will be canceled, but we expect a 4.0 or higher given the buildup here. If “Once Upon a Time” can do it, so can SHIELD.

Are there some roadblocks? Sure, since the show is up against “NCIS” and “The Voice,” and “The Vampire Diaries” spin-off “The Originals” will be coming up next month. However, remember that singing competitions are dying off in the ratings, “NCIS” has a legion of angry Cote de Pablo fans, and nothing on The CW is really that great of a threat … even vampires.

What sort of expectations do you have for “Agents of SHIELD”? We want to hear below! Meanwhile, click here if you want to see where you can catch an extended preview of the show tonight.

Photo: ABC

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