Saturday, January 23, 2016

TV Review: Marvel's Agent Carter Season One (2015)

Marvel's Agent Carter Season One (2015) created by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely

Peggy Carter works for the Scientific Strategic Reserve (SSR), a top-level secret law enforcement agency headquartered in Manhattan. Billionaire inventor Howard Stark's inventions have shown up on the black market. Some of the buyers include enemies of America. Stark claims his basement stash was robbed by someone who tunneled in. Sounds unlikely, even to Howard, so he goes on the run. But not before recruiting Agent Carter to clear his name. They worked together previously on Project: Rebirth--the one that created Captain America. Stark offers her his English butler Edwin Jarvis as an aid. While the rest of the SSR is out to get Stark, Peggy works behind the scenes to find proof of his innocence, which potentially makes her a traitor too. The conspiracy gets bigger as the show goes on.

Peggy Carter is a great character. She is doubly an outsider--a woman working in a man's world and a Brit working in Manhattan. Her Britishness isn't such an issue (though it makes for the occasional fun interaction with the English butler). The show gets a lot of mileage out of her being female. Her work life is fairly terrible. She has to take lunch orders and is expected to do filing even though she is more than capable at investigating and fighting. She does a great job standing up for herself. Happily, she also doesn't run around half-dressed or in tights all the time, making her more believable as a person and more respectable as a woman. She is a great role model.

The plot machinations are a bit forced at times. I was never convinced the SSR had a reason to keep her off the team investigating Stark or that she needed to investigate secretly. She had plenty of opportunities to "come clean" and tell the SSR folks what was really going on, letting her use the full resources of her agency. Howard Stark pops in and out to increase the drama rather than for actual sensible reasons. So the show is less believable than it could be.

But the show is fun and the post-World War II setting gives the show a distinctive look and sound (lots of big band and Jazz). It's good, light entertainment.

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