In the US: Tuesdays, 8/7c, ABC
In the UK: Fridays, 8pm, Channel 4. Starts 27th September
Marvel's The Avengers/Avengers Assemble (delete according to which overly litigious side of the Atlantic you live on) was a movie phenomenon. As well as taking huge box office earnings last summer, it did an unprecedented thing: it took four separate movie franchises, all inhabiting the same universe - Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk - and brought their leads together in one movie.
You can thank a Mr Joss Whedon for its success. Although not the original creative mastermind behind the operation, it was he who directed and wrote The Avengers and it is he who is now the head of all things creative for this unified movie universe.
Whedon is, of course, best known from his TV work. Despite being the man who polished Toy Story into the gem it is, he's best known as the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer, its spin-off Angel, and later shows Firefly and Dollhouse - collectively known as the Whedonverse.
So to create a TV spin-off from The Avengers, who better to mastermind it all than Joss Whedon? There is literally no one better qualified in the whole world to do this job. He's certainly got a firm grasp on pretty much everything involved and necessary to making it a success.
Only trouble? It's TV and the budget and time to craft a show on the same scale as The Avengers just isn't possible. You certainly aren't going to be getting the ever-so busy stars, so there's no Thor or Hulk, no Iron Man or Captain America in this spin-off. With even supposedly secondary characters such as Black Widow and Hawkeye played by the expensive and powerful likes of Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner, there's never going to be a chance of getting them involved, either. And no way is a SHIELD helicarrier or the destruction of New York going to be affordable every week.
So, instead, imagine The Avengers that you knew and loved. Then imagine everything big and brave and bold (and expensive) about The Avengers has been removed, leaving perhaps one or two familiar tertiary characters and some quirky fun bits. Then imagine most of the effects and the scale removed as well.
Then imagine what's left and the great big gaping hole left behind by all of that and fill that hole with a load of new regular-type (and therefore cheap) characters who you aren't going to like as much. Add in a scene or two filmed in Paris. Then add in a few references to other Marvel movies such as Iron Man 2 and Iron Man 3. Finally, mix in a lot of the trademark Whedon touches you've come to expect, from funny and clever dialogue to multi-dimensional characters and kick-ass women.
What do you have? Yes, you have the inelegantly titled ABC's Marvel's Agents of SHIELD, featuring that Agent Coulson who definitely died in The Avengers but has somehow come back; that Agent Hill, who's preoccupied on CBS in How I Met Your Mother so is only going to be in one episode; that car you half-remember from Captain America; that guy who used to be on Angel but who's only going to be in one episode too; an aeroplane you haven't seen before but isn't going to be in it much and is a whole lot cheaper than a helicarrier anyway; and a whole bunch of people you've never seen before but are largely pretty and can deliver a Whedongag.
Some bad? Well, it's probably not as great as you hoped, but it's still not half bad all the same. Minor spoilers after the jump.