“Agent Carter” Is A Kick-Ass New Series

agent-carter-poster

LOGOAs of last Tuesday there’s a new heroine on the block, and she is absolutely dynamite. Her name is Peggy Carter aka Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell), and she’s a cross among Sydney Bristow from “Alias,” Annie Walker from “Covert Affairs,” Jack Bauer from “24,” and Indiana Jones. “Agent Carter” is the latest Marvel character to find a place on TV, and if the first two episodes of this eight-part miniseries are any indication of what’s to come, we’re in for a great ride.

The year is 1946, and we find Peggy back from the war and mourning the loss of her boyfriend, Steve Rogers aka Capt. America. Despite being a highly skilled agent with the Strategic Science Reserve (SSR), Peggy is relegated to the work of a glorified secretary with the organization, and she wants no part of that because she craves the action of work in the field. While she is trying to figure out how to earn some respect in the male-dominated agency, her fortunes suddenly change when Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) contacts her.

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Stark is a guy who builds powerful weapons, but now some nefarious scumbags have managed to blame him for selling his secrets to whoever can pay for them, and this brands him as a traitor. Because he knows and trusts Peggy and because he respects her arsenal of skills, he asks her to find the culprits and get rid of the weapons so that his reputation will be preserved. Stark also orders his butler, Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy), to provide Peggy with any help she may need in carrying out her assignment.

Naturally Peggy welcomes the mission despite its inherent danger, and in the pilot episode she manages to find out who pilfered Stark’s exclusive bomb formula. And she also learns that the thief is a member of Leviathan, a group conspiring to overthrow the world. As Peggy proceeds with her investigation, she realizes that some of the people in her agency may have their own agendas and thus may pose a real danger for her.

In addition to the major aspects of Peggy’s new work, we learn a number of things about her in the two-hour pilot. First, she’s much more than just a pretty face. Her intelligence is off the charts, and this enables her to make the snap decisions so necessary to survival in her line of work. She’s also equally skilled in hand-to-hand combat and the use of firearms. In fact, some of her fighting moves would make Bruce Lee proud. In a recent online interview with Eric Goldman of IGN TV, Atwell talked about her reaction to getting the part and offered some interesting insight into Peggy’s character.

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“It (getting the series) was a dream come true because I love working with the Marvel, team and we had an absolute blast doing the One-Shot. I remember when we got to Comic-Con and we showed it for the first time. The reaction was very positive and [Agent Carter director] Louis D’Esposito just looked at me and was like ‘Hey, do you want to do a series?’ And I was like, ‘Yes, yes, yes!’ So then I had to wait for about a year before ABC greenlit it, but it was a year of anticipation and hoping and hoping that ABC would want to do it. It’s been a long journey, and I’m so excited that it’s finally coming to fruition.”

In response to a question about the problems facing Peggy in he workplace, Atwell replied: “Yeah, it’s tricky for her because she’s very capable. She’s intelligent, and she finds herself in a frustrating situation of a male-dominated world, and she’s having to kind of start from scratch. But it’s a different time. We’re coming back from the war and the aftermath of the destruction of that, and there’s a lot of work to be done. She’s having to forge her own path and find a way of still being active and carrying on Cap’s work in this environment where she’s just being asked to get the lunch orders and make the coffees and answer the phones for the guys. Which is why I think she jumps at the chance to work with Howard when he comes along and proposes to her this mission.”

HAYLEY ATWELL, JAMES D'ARCY

In addition to plenty of suspense and mystery “Agent Carter” offers viewers some great fight scenes, and in her interview with Goldman, Atwell explained what filming those scenes was like.

“Oh my goodness, so fun. First of all, we have Casey O’Neill and Kimberly [Murphy] who are the stunt coordinator and my stunt double, who have choreographed these beautiful fight sequences which remind me a little bit of dance sequences that I learned in drama school. You learn unarmed combat in school. You learn how to do fight scenes safely. They’ve done some very intricate, very highly skilled action sequences that have been a great bonus to this character and so much fun as an actor for me to play her. They did require a bit of skill and a bit of stamina and a bit of determination to get it right. You don’t always get it right, hence the fact that I have injured many stuntmen and many actors in the process. I’ve been very British about it and been mortified as soon as I kick someone in the genital area. ‘Oh my God, I’m so sorry!’ And we cut and start again. Kimberly, my stunt double, is like ‘Look, babe it’s fine! They’ve done this so many times. They’ve been injured. They probably deserve it too! Most of these guys are bad guys.’ It’s been really fun doing that. More fun for me probably than the men on the receiving end of my clumsy attempt at kicking their butt because I end up having actually injured them, yeah!”

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This show is so much fun because it not only contains plenty of heart-stopping action sequences, but it also achieves a nice blend of drama and humor. Most of the comic relief is the result of the relationship between Peggy and Jarvis, the staid butler who would really rather be baking or doing laundry than hauling a dangerous agent around, and their scenes together are great. Here’s what Atwell told Goldman about the two characters.

“I think it’s kind of… they’re forced together. He’s been told that he has to work with her and be available to her. But I think, from her point of view, she doesn’t need any help. But she needs someone who is in contact with Howard to help kind of run this mission. So they have this very witty banter back and forth where she’s constantly having to go, ‘Look, dude, I don’t need your help! I am fine.’ But it’s a lovely dynamic between them because they’re both British. They both have that wit and that satire. Their language is a game of chess back and forth. It’s a great game that they play, and I think they get tremendous enjoyment out of it. And their relationship grows over the season. They become very close. They also provide the comic relief of the season. You see the serious aspects of what they have to do but then you have these great moments of comedy between them. He becomes like her comic sidekick.”

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I love period pieces, and “Agent Carter” is terrific at recreating the era if the 1940s. The sets, costumes, and props – especially the cars – are simply spectacular, and so is the musical track. This is by far one of my favorite adaptations of a Marvel character to television, and because there is absolutely nothing about the show to dislike, it earns the final score of a super 10.

And just wait until you see Peggy fight and run in high heels! She’s simply Marvel(ous)!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Atwell: I think it’s kind of… they’re forced together. He’s been told that he has to work with her and be available to her. But I think, from her point of view, she doesn’t need any help. But she needs someone who is in contact with Howard to help kind of run this mission. So they have this very witty banter back and forth where she’s constantly having to go, “Look, dude, I don’t need your help! I am fine.” But it’s a lovely dynamic between them because they’re both British. They both have that wit and that satire. Their language is a game of chess back and forth. It’s a great game that they play and I think they get tremendous enjoyment out of it. And their relationship grows over the season. They become very close. They also provide the comic relief of the season. You see the serious aspects of what they have to do but then you have these great moments of comedy between them. He becomes like her comic sidekick.

IGN: Given that it’s eight episodes, should we expect a pretty focused story continuing the thread of Howard’s stolen plans?

Atwell: Yes, it’s incredibly tight, the script, which is great. It’s fast moving and fast paced but luckily because it’s not stretched out of 22 episodes, nothing is diluted. Every line is vital to not only moving the story and the action alone but also developing the characters. So you get to know these characters incredibly quickly. You get to know who you should be trusting, who you shouldn’t be, and then it takes you on this adventure with a lot of surprises and twists and turns which are a surprise to Peggy and they’ll also be a surprise to the audience. But you can see the quality of the writers who have injected it with a lot of heart and a lot of humor as well as just the exposition of driving the plot along.

GN: Peggy is extremely physically capable and can handle herself and you have some great fight scenes. You’ve also had some very funny tweets about accidently punching your co-stars or stunt men along the way. What’s it like for you to tackle those scenes?

Atwell: Oh my goodness, so fun. First of all, we have Casey O’Neill and Kimberly [Murphy] who are the stunt coordinator and my stunt double, who have choreographed these beautiful fight sequences which remind me a little bit of dance sequences that I learned in drama school. You learn unarmed combat in school. You learn how to do fight scenes safely. They’ve done some very intricate, very highly skilled action sequences that have been a great bonus to this character and so much fun as an actor for me to play her. They did require a bit of skill and a bit of stamina and a bit of determination to get it right. You don’t always get it right, hence the fact that I have injured many stuntmen and many actors in the process. I’ve been very British about it and been mortified as soon as I kick someone in the genital area. “Oh my God, I’m so sorry!.” And we cut and start again. Kimberly, my stunt double, is like “Look, babe it’s fine! They’ve done this so many times. They’ve been injured. They probably deserve it too! Most of these guys are bad guys.” [Laughs] It’s been really fun doing that. More fun for me probably than the men on the receiving end of my clumsy attempt at kicking their butt because I end up having actually injured them, yeah!

 

Agent Peggy Carter

Played by Hayley Atwell

character

In a post-war world, tough, smart and sexy Peggy Carter is working as an agent at the SSR. While still dealing with the loss of her love and getting marginalized in the SSR after the men return home, Peggy is determined to prove that she is more than Captain America’s girlfriend.

 

Agent Jack Thompson

Played by Chad Michael Murray

character

Jack Thompson is the SSR’s golden boy and Peggy’s office nemesis. A celebrated war hero, his rough tactics and stubborn attitude are his greatest weapons — but his inability to see Peggy as anything more than “just a woman” may be his greatest weakness. Although his approach may at times feel uncompromising, he steadfastly believes in the SSR’s mission

 

Agent Daniel Sousa

Played by Enver Gjokaj

character

Like Peggy, Daniel Sousa is overlooked at the SSR because of a perceived shortcoming: a war injury to his leg has left him with a permanent limp. Limited by his disability, Sousa must rely on his wits and intellect. He is the real brains of this outfit. Although connected to Peggy by their status as “second class citizens,” his sharp acumen could make him Peggy’s most dangerous rival.

Chief Roger Dooley

Played by Shea Whigham

character

After earning his stripes with the Strategic Scientific Reserve during the war, Roger Dooley returned home and was appointed chief of the New York Bureau of the SSR. He knows how to get the most out of his agents and will do everything he can to protect them. Ultimately, his good instincts and nose for the truth make him the perfect man to lead this group of war-torn agents in a post-war world.

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