If there’s anything Peggy Carter can’t do then it isn’t evident in the first action episode of Marvel’s Agent Carter.
Fire a weapon, throw a punch, dance, don a disguise, and display exemplary detective skills -this gal does it all. Agent Carter centres around Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell), love interest of Steve Rogers (aka Captain America).
In 1946 New York Peggy works for the clandestine Strategic Scientific Research, a workplace that has no problem being more male-dominated than that of Mad Men. Pushing to be accepted by her colleagues, most of whom treat her like a secretary, Peggy knows she has what it takes -if only everybody else did.
Into her lap falls a major case when elusive industrialist Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) reaches out when he stands accused of being a traitor. But Stark insists his inventions were stolen, not sold on the black market to enemies of the state. If Carter can work in secret to clear his name both may get what they most need -but there’s a catch: she effectively has to become a traitor at work in order to prove he isn’t one.
“You want a mission that matters? This is it,” Stark tells her.
He assigns his butler Jarvis (James D’Arcy) to be at her beck and call, who amusingly advises he doesn’t work after 9pm. And so begins a trail that leads to a society party, an oil refinery, a big band, a body count, explosions, and a healthy dose of knockout lipstick.
With its period backdrop, art deco sets and costumes, Agent Carter is Jessica Rabbit meets Dick Tracy. There’s even echoes of Inspector Gadget and Alias to boot. Amid the gum-shoe detectives and action sequences, there are strong feminist themes that help keep this contemporary.
Hayley Atwell shines in the title role, drawing upon action and humour in the script by Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. James D’Arcy serves as a kind of younger Alfred to her Batgirl, while Chad Michael Murray heads up the SSR. Enver Gjokaj plays Carter’s empathetic colleague Daniel Sousa, who may yet prove to have romantic designs on her -he’ll be lucky if she can find the time amid all her crime-busting. There’s also a cameo by Chris Evans and Dominic Cooper in his aforementioned supporting role.
Agent Carter was voted by TV Tonight readers in January as “the international show they most wanted to see” on Australian TV. While the final product may not quite match the lengthy wait, it’s nevertheless a bright and confident addition to a genre that is increasingly the domain of Pay TV.
Agent Carter premieres with a double episode 8:30pm Monday on 7flix.