Agent Carter

Tea- Girl and the But­ler

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Peggy Carter is, of course, never des­tined to be­come a su­per­hero, but if this show is any­thing to judge by, Marvel has found its Won­der Woman. Be­cause while Wil­liam Moul­ton Marston’s cre­ation was fly­ing the flag for fem­i­nism over at DC in the ’ 40s, a sup­port­ing char­ac­ter from the Marvel ( née Timely) uni­verse was qui­etly show­ing the men how to get the job done in spicy, sassy fash­ion in an – un­til now – un­told story.

Marvel’s Agent Carter is an un­ex­pected de­light. A spin- off from one of the lesser MCU films, it cap­i­talises on one of the main things The First Avenger had go­ing for it: the pe­riod set­ting. The show uses this as a spring­board to pro­duce some­thing that’s not so much pulp pas­tiche as a love let­ter to the Golden Age of comics. Sure, there are plenty of 21st cen­tury sto­ry­telling tropes in ev­i­dence but they em­brace the clichés be­fore in­vert­ing them.

Chron­i­cling the post- war ca­reer of Peg work­ing at SHIELD fore­run­ner the SSR, the show oozes style, re­pro­duc­ing ’ 40s New York in part noir/ part Technicolor splen­dour ev­ery week. Peggy pre­tends to be happy mak­ing the tea, but in her own time she’s se­cretly help­ing Howard Stark to prove he’s not sell­ing tech to the Sovi­ets. Stark as­signs his but­ler Jarvis to help her. To­gether, the quick- wit­ted agent and the cut- glass valet make one of the most watch­able dou­ble- acts on TV.

Fast- paced, witty, con­stantly de­fy­ing ex­pec­ta­tions, gor­geous to look at and boasting some in­ven­tive fight scenes, the show truly feels like the writ­ers and di­rec­tors have an­a­lysed ev­ery scene and gone, “How do we make this bet­ter?” so that no mo­ment is wasted.

Which leaves us with two mys­ter­ies: why has no UK broad­caster picked it up? And why are its rat­ings so dis­ap­point­ing in the US? Nor­mally, when we like a show that fails, we can at least work out why. Not in this case. This is an su­perbly en­ter­tain­ing show that proves that classy US TV doesn’t have to be bleak and gritty. Hope­fully it’s do­ing well on catch- up be­cause the axe would never be more cruel. Dave Golder

The dy­namic duo. And an­other fella.

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