by Aitch Cee
ABC and Marvel takes another big gamble and gives us Agent Carter, a 7 part miniseries that started last night with a bang. To be honest, I was a bit nervous with the start because almost similar to Agents of SHIELD. By using clips from the first Captain America movie, my biggest fear was that it would ride the coat tails of Marvel movies just to be relevant. In some sense that’s what made the first season of Agents of SHIELD a rocky season. Thankfully, all those clips really did was remind audiences who Peggy Carter was in relation to Captain America and…also made me want to re-watch the movie again.
After that, the show starts off with a bang in 1940s New York, just after the end of World War II. Shady agents are stealing from Howard Stark and it winds up sending him on the run from the government. The crazy part, is in a plot twist directly from this era, Stark has a vault full of WMDs that was broken into by someone burrowing a tunnel underneath and robbing him! After Stark makes a clandestine meet up with Carter explaining what he did, he leaves her in the hands of the original Edwin Jarvis to be her sidekick and the chase is on. As Carter has no help from her agency as they see her not as an asset but a Girl Friday, she strikes out to do what they can’t and thus the adventure is on!
One thing I really enjoyed about Agent Carter was the use of the setting and Marvel mostly nails it. Agent Carter is working for a top secret agency in which the men are in charge. Little do they realize that with all that revolves around this case of the missing WMDs and the mysterious ‘Leviathan’, Carter without there help, is always one step ahead. I also really liked the idea of the Captain America radio show and how they downplay women, making them helpless and all the while, Carter is the opposite. The clothing was spot on as well as most of the vehicles. The only thing missing was the excessive smoking.
If anything, this pilot episode gives us some elements not seen since Mission Impossible or Alias. Carter is no slouch when it comes to action. The character is seen in disguises infiltrating night clubs, fighting men twice her size and leaping on to moving vehicles while things blows up. Now, it wasn’t as big budget in the action as one thought it might be in a movie but some of the scenes and set pieces were really on point. If you haven’t seen it, watch for the factory explosion. And there is the lipstick; that bright red among the drab sea of suits. Some of my female friends in my feed were clamoring to find out what color it was so they can use it in any potential cosplays. The biggest appeal to Agent Carter is she rarely has to use sex appeal to get what she needs. She is smart and independent despite the fact that men of the 40s undervalue her.
Another thing that I appreciated is that by this being a spy show set in the 40s was the gadgets. They included: the watch that could crack safes, the ray guns that felt like it was from Buck Rogers, and the typewriter that could send messages back and forth. And unlike some of the Bond films, there weren’t obstructive crutches to help the characters along but they came in at the right time to add a level of comic book coolness in the show.
The Dramatis Personae
Agent Carter was not short on the faces seen in the pilot. Of course Hayley Atwell, brought it in spades and brought some life that we have seen from a female action star on TV that we have seen since the aforementioned, Alias. James D’Arcy who gives life to Jarvis (no, the voice in the Iron Man movies was Paul Bettany) and unsurprisingly played the sidekick very well; also there is an air of the unknown about him. Then of course there is the man you will love to hate as Chad Michael Murphy epitomizes the 40’s male chauvinist in the form of Agent Jack Thompson. Last but not least, is Enver Gjokaj as Agent Daniel Sousa, a crippled war vet and friend of Carter. He is sweet on Carter but because he knows about the relationship she had with Steve Rogers, is a bit intimidated to ask her out. Some of the cameos and guests included James Urbaniak who was the voice of Dr. Venture of the Venture Brothers, Andre Royo, who played Bubbles on The Wire, and Ashely Hinshaw from True Blood. Stan Lee will be making his cameo on the 4th episode.
The Easter Eggs
There were quite a few in the show last night. Among them of course being Roxxon and glaringly obvious was Leviathan. Anybody who remembers their comic book history knows that Leviathan threw in at one time with Hydra, the Hand and even SHIELD and double crossed them all. So it’s no telling how this revelation of Leviathan being active will work out for the series and the future of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. Leet Brannis who appeared on the show had one appearance in Marvel Comics in All Winners #4, for all those Golden Age fans out there. Or Anton Vanko? Watch Iron Man 2 for that one! One other which is a really obscure one was Whitby’s Prospect, a horse that Sousa was told to bet on by Carter. There is a pub in England called the Prospect of Whitby that was features in a WWII movie, D-Day the Sixth of June. And how about Lucky Star cabs?
All in all, this was a solid showing and I am excited for the upcoming episodes. Marvel Studios seems like they learned some of the lessons of what didn’t work for AoS and let Agent Carter be a free standing story that did not depend on the movies for people to get it. It had just the right amount of pulp appeal, action and drama that is sometimes missing on other action shows. The best part is it doesn’t force viewers to think so far out of the box with techno-babble nor is the show dumbed down in horrible clichés. For any and everything on TV, Agent Carter is a breath of fresh air that we really need.
4 out of 5 stars