It’s with slightly heavy heart that I write this review. The good news is that it’s going to be a positive review of a really lovely little show, the bad news is that the show was cancelled before I’d actually got round to watching the season. There’s a slim chance that it might be picked up by an online channel or something, but it’s best not to get hopes up on these things.
“Lovely little show” probably sounds pretty patronising. It’s also a rather unlikely label for a component of the ever-growing, all conquering Marvel Cinematic Universe. But while films like Iron Man and Avengers are all about huge heroes, the television series within the universe do tend to be rather lower ambition. To be honest, much as I enjoy it Agents of SHIELD often fails to deliver on even those reduced ambitions, so it’s a relief that Agent Carter sets the scope even smaller and delivers marvelously.
Part of this success is maybe in its separation from the main behemoths not just by being on television, but also being set in a completely different period. It’s sort of sitting within a closed time loop. We know how Peggy Carter’s story started in Captain America, we know she was instrumental in founding SHIELD and we know (broadly) how her story ends. So in many ways, what she does in the middle is both unimportant and completely free.
And what Peggy Carter does is be truly magnificent. She is such a brilliant character, and even more so, a brilliant female character. She’s completely no-nonsense and totally kick-ass; but also has feelings, flaws and uncertainties. I genuinely think she’s one of the best characters on television today.
She’s abley supported by a quirky and entertaining bunch of sidekicks. James D’Arcy plays Jarvis heavily for laughs, but he delivers on his more emotional storylines this year, while Enver Gjokaj Is his usual impressive self, perfect in the period role right down to a song and dance number! The cast includes a few more fantastic female characters who confound expectations and stereotypes, how many series for instance really commit to a female ‘big bad’?
I purposefully let the series build up on my sky box so I could watch it through quite quickly and it benefits from that kind of watching. The plot itself can get a little twisty and turny and I think I might have lost interest in it if I’d had to wait between installments. But that doesn’t really matter, because it’s the characters and the personality of the show overall that kept me coming back. It can easily be watched as a ‘surface’ show, action sequences and one-liners. But like with the best of the Marvel Universe entries, there’s depth below the surface with great characters, interesting dilemmas and just a huge amount of heart.
I can understand why it hasn’t drawn much attention or ratings, but it’s a real gem and I’ll miss it a lot. I wonder if Stark could invent time travel and transport Peggy to modern day SHIELD. She’d rule the place and Coulson would be delighted.