Tag Archives: Agent Carter

Ranking the ShowsThat I Watch – 2015 Edition: 46-43

4 Apr

A very real dramedy followed by three shows which depart from the realms of the real. Three of these four debuted last year.

Intro here and 58-55 here and 54-51 here and 50-47 here.

46. Togetherness – 2014: Not Eligible

Togetherness

One of the plague of sad-white people with pre-midlife crises shows running amok on TV, Togetherness actually pulled together to be a little bit better by the end than I thought it would be at the beginning. It’s hardly mandatory viewing, but the characters are drawn relatively well and feel somewhat realistic, and the feuds and conflicts feel plausible and unforced, which sounds like a low floor but really isn’t. Mark Duplass’s character is the worst part of the show, but he’s balanced by his best friend on the show, Alex, who is the best character. 

45. Mr. Robot – 2014: Not Eligible

Mr. RobotMr. Robot is a show I’ve expended many words about, written, and in person, and although I’m still not sure if I’ll watch it again this year, I’m glad I did. Few shows actually capture the internet television watching community every year, but Mr. Robot was one of them, and while I’m not a fan of many of the show’s creative choices, I do understand some of the appeal, and some of why the appeal now. If the two shows coming up next after Mr. Robot were classic high-floor low-ceiling affairs, Mr. Robot is the opposite. There was a lot going on, generally more of which I didn’t like than did, but it’s the type of show for which I at least have a level of appreciation for the craft of even if I disagree fundamentally which several of the decisions made. I probably liked the next two shows on this list better, but if someone I didn’t know asked me which season of television they should watch it should probably be this one.

44. Doctor Who – 2014: Not Eligible

Doctor Who

Doctor Who is by no means for everyone, and sometimes I’m not even sure it’s for me, but although I doubted myself while watching several seasons over the course of a year, in the end it was a worthwhile project. There’s a low ceiling; there are never any real stakes in Doctor Who, and whatever suspense there is is trying to figure out what the deus ex machina is going to be, not if there will be one. The character development is limited at best, but the show makes up for it by being relentless silly, casting strong choices as the Doctor, like current Doctor Peter Capaldi, and having at least once every few episodes smart, sci-fi homages and mashups that play well with common tropes even if the end results aren’t surprising. What I just wrote is really true about any season of Doctor Who more than merely the last, but that’s about what this show is.

43. Marvel’s Agent Carter – 2014: Not Eligible

Marvel's Agent Carter

Agent Carter isn’t great or relevatory (it sounds like I’m repeating similar words a lot, but that’s where we are on the list) and it fits in well most of the Marvel Cinematic Universe superhero oeuvre – it’s light on its feet, with a low ceiling and a high floor, featuring heroic tales of patriotic derring-do conducted by heroes who care about the greater good more than themselves, all balanced by some sense of humor to attempt to prevent it from being too mired in its own self-seriousness. What puts Carter slightly above the mean is the chemistry between the two leads, heroic Agent Carter (Hayley Atwell) who has been buried deep in mundane paperwork as a woman in an all-male workplace in the post-war 1940s, and Jarvis, Howard Stark’s butler, full of British charm and snobbery who, increasingly as the season goes on, wants to show he can do more than cook, clean, and aptly manage Stark’s many lady friends. The ‘40s make for a great setting, and the show doesn’t go light on the constant sexism towards Carter, which actually makes the setting feel more authentic and the eventual triumph greater.

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Reviewing My 2014-15 Predictions: ABC

11 May

ABC

Well, there’s no point in making predictions if you’re not willing to revisit them later and see just how wrong you were. Now that the final decisions are in, let’s review how I did.

ABC next. My fall predictions are here and my spring predictions are here, and in short, every show gets one of three predictions: that it will air 12 episodes or fewer, 13 episodes or more, or be renewed.

Forever

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 13+

Forever seemed like an instant failure to me, as a supernatural procedural starring a unpronounceable Welshman, but then it was actually decently successful and seemed on pace for renewal. Ultimately, it landed on the borderline and ABC went with a thumbs down. I’m fine with my guess here.

Black-ish

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

 

This and the following show seemed like ABC’s two buzziest and most widely promoted shows, both did very well, meeting or surpassing expectations and will be coming back.

How to Get Away With Murder

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

Like Black-ish above, except probably even more anticipated because it’s from ABC overlord Shonda Rhimes. I felt best about this renewal out of all Fall network shows.

Selfie

Prediction: 13+

Reality: 12-

This certainly seemed like a failure, and looking back I’m not sure why I thought it would even last a full season. Probably my personal fandom of John Cho and Karen Gillan helped, along with a prominent billboard near my apartment, but I should have gotten this right.

Manhattan Love Story

Prediction: 12-

Reality: 12-

This was the first cancellation of the year, which I should really pick as a special category next year. This seemed like a pretty obvious dead on arrival sitcom. One of the easier calls.

Cristela

Prediction; 12-

Reality: 13+

Buried on Friday night, next to a Tim Allen show that it seemed to have very little in common with, and starting fairly late in the fall, this seemed destined to fail. Cristela came out to surprisingly (to me, anyway) mildly positive reviews however, and did better than expected, which still wasn’t quite enough for a second season. Points for beating my expectations, though.

Spring:

Galavant:

Prediction: 12-

Reality: Renewal

Galavant is a fit with ABC’s family friendly lineup, and it’s silly fairy tale like Once Upon a Time, but seriously, a comedy musical? That seemed ill-fated for sure. I was wrong, but I don’t feel bad about this pick.

Marvel’s Agent Carter:

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

I should have mentioned this above, but in what has to be an incredible rarity if not an actual first, EVERY spring ABC show was renewed. That’s insane and incredibly unlikely and I’m still stunned. Marvel’s Agent Carter, as part of the Marvel Universe, on a network owned by the same people who own Marvel, seemed about as close to a slam dunk as there is, and though it actually ended up being a pretty close call, it made it.

Fresh Off the Boat

Prediction: 12-

Reality: Renewal

In hindsight, this seems like a perfect fit on ABC and makes total sense as a renewal. At the time, I was troubled by its time slot, away from the ABC comedies it was most similar to, and from some of the not entirely positive articles about how disenchanted Eddie Huang, on whom the show is based, had been by the process.

Secrets and Lies

Prediction: 12-

Reality: Renewal

This one still seems like a 12- to me. I can’t believe it got renewed. Before I rechecked to write this, I could have sworn it was cancelled. ABC executives must have really been feeling lucky and didn’t want this to throw off their string of successes.

American Crime

Prediction: Renewal

Reality: Renewal

This was an IMPORTANT show, with a couple of noteworthy actors, and though it ended up being borderline in terms of being picked up, I erred on the side that if it was borderline, ABC would pick it up for the PRESTIGE, and I was right.

Spring 2015 Review: Agent Carter

9 Jan

Agent CarterIn short, Agent Carter is a Marvel product through and through, consistent with every film and television property Marvel has put out since Iron Man. Not all Marvel products are equal by any means, but they generally occupy a sector as good, solid action movies, that don’t take enough risks or aren’t quite interesting enough to be truly great, yet compensate for it by being consistently above average for the genre. If that sounds like a backhanded compliment, I don’t mean it as such; just plain good superhero movies and TV shows seem to be shockingly difficult to make, and DC has muffed more than a few (as have other studios with Marvel products – see the Fantastic Four movies). Unlike Gotham, which is ambitious but struggles with its identity, Agent Carter knows what it wants to be straight out of the box, what Marvel specializes in; good old action suspense fare that takes advantage of tie ins with an ever expanding universe of familiar characters and concepts.

Agent Carter, for the uninitiated, was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe in Captain America, where she was Cap’s confidant and handler, and she was devastated by his apparent death. In the years following the war, she’s been reduced to a copy girl and secretary in the Strategic Scientific Reserve, a pre-S.H.I.E.L.D. intelligence agency, where the of-their-time misogynistic agents disregard her war service and credentials due to her gender. Frustrated, she is granted a rare opportunity to get back in action when Howard Stark, Tony’s father, recruits her to clear his name – he’s been framed as a traitor due to some of his most deadly technology ending up on the black market. She, believing in Stark and looking to participate in something meaningful again, jumps at the chance. With the assistance of Stark’s butler Jarvis, the namesake of Tony’s robotic assistant, she sets out to find the stolen tech and exonerate Howard Stark.

 

This show isn’t by any means a must watch; it’s not one of those rare brilliant pilots that draws you in, makes you think, or immediately makes you want to put on the next episode. Marvel is good at what it does though, and if you like Marvel’s movies, you’ll probably want to at least give Agent Carter a shot, especially considering it’s a measly eight episode commitment. Star Hayley Atwell is more than capable as Carter and while the show isn’t particularly original or brilliantly written or directed, it’s competent enough, and again, if you like superheroes and comic-book action, like I do, that might be enough, at least until there are so many competent superhero shows out there that we have to start choosing amongst them (that day may not be too long in coming – Netflix has four Marvel shows on the way, and there are three DC shows airing).

I wish I had a more interesting review to write, and more dynamic points to make, but that’s not what Agent Carter gives me. There’s action and adventure, but they follow the usual patterns. You know what this is from the first few minutes, and if that’s the sort of thing you like, you’ll enjoy it well enough, and if it isn’t, there’s really no reason to stick around.

Will I watch it again? Yes, I probably will. Marvel has ensnared with me with their tie-ins and tempted me with their limited runs; I’m not sure I’d sign up for a season of this, but eight episodes I can do in my sleep. It’s not highest priority though, so it could get away from me without me knowing.

 

Spring Previews and Predictions: ABC

5 Jan

ABC

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (edit: spring, now) television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (spring, again)(reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

  1. Renewal – show gets renewed
  2. 13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed
  3. 12- – the show is cancelled before 13

Additional note: Since more and more series on network TV are following cable models with set orders for shorter seasons, and mid-season replacements tend to have shorter seasons in particular, I’ll note any planned limited runs in my prediction section for each show)

Galavant – 1/4/15

Galavant

Galavant is a musical fairly tale comedy. If those words scare you as much as they do me, you’d think we were in for a bumpy ride. To be fair, this is the second example of the genre in a couple of months behind the admittedly less comic and generally well-reviewed Into the Woods film. This looks much, much sillier, and partly because of that, possibly much harder to stomach. It feels very Disney and the songs are impressively co-written by Disney legend Alan Menken. If it’s good, it could be cute, but if it’s bad, it could be very, very bad.

Prediction: 12- Galavant is designed as an eight episode limited series. While I’m sure if the series is somehow a hit, ABC will connive a way to make more in the future, if it’s anything but, it will be merely a zany miniseries airing with little to lose in January before the year really gets going. Musical comedy as a genre often walks a dangerous line between cute and funny and just plain awful, and while this is a logical family-friendly fairy tale companion piece for Once Upon a Time, I’ll take the conservative bet that it doesn’t earn another go around.

Agent Carter – 1/6/15

Agent Carter

Comics have taken over the movies, and now they’re on their way to taking over television. Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has proven so far to be a mild, if relatively disappointing by Marvel’s high standards, success for ABC, so it’s only logical that the network under the same parent company (Disney) as Marvel makes another effort in that direction, pulling another show out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This time it’s a limited eight-episode run based on Peggy Carter, an agent with the Strategic Scientific Reserve from the Captain America movies. Agent Carter takes place in the 1940s and features Carter on a super secret mission recovering weapons stolen from Howard Stark, Tony’s dad. She’ll work with Stark’s butler Edwin Jarvis, the inspiration for Tony’s computer of the same name. It’s full of comic-book action-espionage, and though I couldn’t wager how good or not so good it’ll be, it probably won’t be awful and anyone who is familiar with Marvel products can probably hazard some idea of the appealing-but-safe tone the show will take.

Prediction: Renewal* – Another limited series, but since everything Marvel touches seems to turn to gold these days, I’ll take the upside. Even though I don’t necessarily think it’ll be a smash, it hardly needs to be to be a success on network TV these days. The biggest obstacle may be unwillingness by Marvel or Atwell to return for more episodes.

Fresh Off the Boat – 2/10/15

Fresh Off the Boat

First, before I say anything else, it’s worthwhile mentioning how rare and how welcome a sitcom about an Asian-American family is. Fresh Off the Boat is an ethnic family fish-out-of-water situation.  An Asian-American family is moving from multi-cultural Washington D.C., where they have friends and family to white=bread Orlando where the father just purchased an American Outback Steakhouse/Boulder Creek-type restaurant. Everyone struggles to fit in, driving each other crazy but ultimately loving one another, and hijinks ensue.

Prediction: 12- I don’t feel strongly, but the trailer didn’t particularly impress and it’s strangely slotted on Tuesday next to Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with which it seems to have little in common. Wednesday is ABC’s big family comedy block, and sensibly fall newbie Black-ish is getting a coveted spot there; the Tuesday spot and general lack of promotion give me little faith in Fresh Off the Boat.

Secrets & Lies – 3/1/15

Secrets and Lies

A young boy is murdered. I had thought at the beginning of the trailer that this would be a classic season-long whodunit, but to my pleasant surprise, the show seems to skirt around the mystery and have a slightly different focus.  Ryan Phillippe plays the man who discovers the boy’s body, who is the prime suspect of the investigation. The show seems to focus on Phillippe and how he is hounded by the press, the locals, and the cops, while he denies any involvement. I’m not sure how long something like this can last, and it probably won’t be too different because it’s on broadcast TV, but it’s not a terrible idea, which is something. It’s based on an Australian show of the same name.

Predicton: 12- Midseaosn guesses are much harder than fall guesses. Between this show and American Crime which follows I simply have absolutely no idea.

American Crime – 3/5/15

American Crime

Timothy Hutton is finished applying Leverage and back into play as a grieving father in this attempt from ABC to catch on to the wonderful seasonal anthology wave (True Detective, American Horror Story) taking TV by storm. Hutton’s son’s death sets the story in motion, which prominently features both the grieving parents and the investigation into the son’s death. This does not appear to be a methodical season long whodunit in the style of The Killing or Broadchurch, but rather a faster-paced suspense oriented tale slowly unlocking a deeper mystery, while traversing the complexities of the American legal system.  Oh, and also, race is a major issue, which likely means, since it’s a network TV show, it will be poorly handled, although the show is created by the writer of 12 Years a Slave, so there’s hope. I love the seasonal anthology trend, so, why not.

Prediction: Renewal – I have absolutely zero confidence in this prediction. It’s got a couple of strong TV names, with Timothy Hutton and Felicity Huffman, and it looks like it might try to be important which could help it or backfire. I’m flipping imaginary coins here people.