Avengers-Peggy smile

Random thoughts after rewatching Agent Carter S1

I finished my Agent Carter season one rewatch -- I was originally planning to post about the episodes as I watched them, but as I've said before, I'm terrible with follow-through on that kind of thing. Also, it took me like a month to watch all eight episodes, and it was taking even longer to watch new episodes because I kept feeling like I should write a post about the last one. I only seem to have two settings on TV shows: "binge-watch" and "snail".

Anyway, I'm still blown away at how good this show is. It's such a perfect, perfect little piece of television ... though of course the usual caveats apply: perfect for me. I know other people have criticisms and various ways the show let them down, and those are entirely valid for you! Of course nothing is really perfect, or can be all things to all people.

But rewatching season one after watching season two makes me love season one all the harder (and I loved it pretty hard to begin with), because the character stuff is so good. The character development for everybody, and the growth of all the different character relationships, unspools so well and so seamlessly from the first episode of season one to the last episode of season two. There's just so much thought that went into it. It's fascinating to remember watching this season the first time, because season two went ahead and gave me all the stuff I thought I had at the end of season one. I remember being so excited that everyone was starting to come together and get teamy and become friends by the end of season one, but now after watching season two, it makes me go, "Wow, it's really just the seeds of it so far, isn't it?" Everything I wanted at the end of season one, I got. (Well, okay, not quite everything, but so much more of what I wanted than I ever dared hope for, as well as a bunch of truly lovely things that I didn't even know I wanted!)

There is not a single episode in either season that I can't just start playing on a random scene and have it make me happy.

But I also think some of the things that make this show "my show" are reasons why it didn't do better on network TV. Not just the central and integral female POV, but also that doesn't have the fast pace and dazzle that is the modern TV action-show aesthetic. It's a show that unfolds slowly, with a lot of talking, a lot of low-key character stuff, and very few big fight scenes. It's not all quippy one-liners, gunfights and car chases, and sexy young people having relationship drama.

I really think part of the problem is that the show had an audience, but the audience never really found it -- they would be people who like period stuff, people who like spy stuff, people who like dramas. The audience who liked Mad Men or The Americans are the people who should have been watching this, but I think ABC just never managed to get the show in front of those people, because they're not really into superhero stuff and it was marketed more as a superhero show.

Plus, ABC's lackluster promotion of the show is pretty obvious. It's STILL not streaming on any of the fee-per-month services, that I know of, and the season one DVDs were an Amazon exclusive, so not available in stores. Netflix doesn't even have the DVDs! You can buy the episodes individually from places like iTunes and Amazon, which is great for hardcore fans (... me), but you're never going to pick up casual viewers that way, and that's what a show needs to do well.

But it has a very enthusiastic audience (the "save the show and bring it to Netflix" petition is already over 80,000 signatures!). Ambivalent though I am about the changes the show might make in a possible season three (especially after all of this; I can't think of a single show off the top of my head that got better after being dropped by its network and picked up elsewhere, and a number of shows that got markedly worse) I would of course be over the moon if it actually did get picked up somewhere, on Netflix or a cable network or something.

This entry is also posted at http://sholio.dreamwidth.org/1084594.html with comment count unavailable comments.
I think you nailed it by stating the show never found its audience... and I think that was in part due to the continuing disconnect between Marvel TV and the MCU (Perlmutter is still in charge of TV; Feige of the MCU... and I doubt the two will ever come to a good creative working arrangement; Perlmutter just isn't on the same page as Feige. Left to his own, I bet Feige could make it all work, bring in Agents of SHIELD, Daredevil, Jessica Jones et al into the MCU and vice versa, and could have made Agent Carter work so that it was the must-see show it should have been... or maybe I'm too enamored of the MCU and ascribe too much perfection to Feige, but that's kinda how I see it).

I think at the beginning of AC, everyone was all abuzz because they thought they'd be getting a true "gap filler", so to speak, a show/mini-series that would show Peggy's rise to power, the founding of SHIELD, and HYDRA's infiltration of SHIELD. Viewers were expecting those three big tie-ins (plus WHO DID SHE END UP MARRYING), and that's...not really what ultimately came about.

Season 1 started off looking like it would do all of that, but then the writers, if not exactly abandoning that quest, nonetheless took such a roundabout, indirect approach to it that interest flagged from the substantial, vital-to-its-success, 'here from the MCU, tell me how this will fit' crowd, plus, a thousand times yes, ABC never really knew how to promote it. Shame, really, because you're absolutely spot on with all that was perfect about the show in every other respect--it did have a lovely slow-burn character development feel that I also enjoyed. At the same time, though, I was irked that it strayed from that "how will this connect to Captain America movies" (and the Iron Man movies... I wanted to see more about Tony Stark's family beginnings and was continually frustrated at the lack of Howard Stark). Even without that clear-cut course, it was still really terrific character development within its own walls and so fun to watch for its humor and positive themes. Imagine if they'd done all that and yet still kept it on course for SHIELD's founding... it very likely would still be going.

I signed that petition. Fingers crossed something comes of it.
Yeah, I think you're totally right with all of this! Season two especially ... and, okay, I loved season two, I loved it even more than season one for all the character stuff, but it really didn't tie into the bigger MCU at all. Which for me was a plus (I liked the self-contained nature of the show) but I think the show hinted, even at the beginning of the season, that it was going to (introducing Zero Matter/Darkforce, introducing Madam Masque) ... and then none of that ended up having any direct connection to the future MCU at all. As much as I personally liked the season for the character arcs and slow burn development of the broader plot stuff (the hints of the SSR's collapse that haven't materialized yet) I can totally see how people looking for answers would be frustrated.

And also, like I was just talking about in a comment at the DW side, it's difficult to see how you can get from a 1940s with flying cars and pocket-sized WMDs to a future that is more or less identical to ours (and we know it goes there, because we've seen it in the movies, so we can't take the 1940s world on its own merits without ignoring the future world we've seen). It doesn't quite fit in the MCU's continuity at all. Agent Carter didn't turn out to be a bridge between Captain America and the modern-day MCU so much as its own fun pulp-spy-fiction world, and I love its fun pulpy world, but it definitely is not the bridge show that it was billed as.

So people who probably WOULD like a pulpy 1940s period drama with little-to-no superhero connection were turned off by the Marvel name and MCU-based advertising, and people who are looking for a superhero show and/or the answers to questions about the 1940s-era MCU were turned off by the slow-paced period drama.

On the other hand, even if it didn't find a large audience, it definitely managed to acquire a small, devoted cult audience! 92,000 signatures on the petition and still growing ...
You make a lot of good points here. I do think the femaleness played a role given how CBS just backed away from making Nancy Drew because it was 'too female.'
very even if you consider it from a monetary standpoint. We're usually the purchasers of the family, the ads that pay for these shows are often aimed at us, we are the core of most fandoms, wouldn't it make sense to put on a 'female' show now and then?