(Photo by Marvel Studios)
Updated December 3, 2021
Disney+’s new MCU-tied streaming series are the latest threat to the rankings of all Marvel TV shows. How do the comic book giant’s television properties currently stack up?
Hawkeye, Marvel’s Hit Monkey, and Marvel’s Helstrom all joined our list of Marvel series by Tomatometer. The streamer’s third original MCU offering, Loki, initially knocked Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. from the top spot on our ranking after the Tom Hiddleston–led series’ premiere episode. The series has since taken a small tumble, and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is back at No. 1 despite hefty competition from the first Disney+ series WandaVision and Daredevil, the highest-scoring Netflix-Marvel collaboration.
We’ve included titles that have at least 10 reviews, and ties were resolved by the number of reviews for each title and further by the “Average Rating” under “Score Details” in cases where two series have the same score and the same number of reviews.
Check back regularly as new Marvel titles like upcoming series Secret Invasion debut.
Disagree with the results? Tell us in the comments which series you think should have scored higher (or lower) with critics.
Recently added: Hawkeye, Marvel’s Helstrom, and Marvel’s Hit Monkey.
(Photo by David Lee/Netflix)
In the last few weeks, Netflix pulled a Thanos-level move by cancelling Marvel’s Iron Fist and Marvel’s Luke Cage on successive Fridays. The major reduction in Marvel Television shows by the streaming service is a far cry from the hope and optimism the two companies shared when they first announced plans to attempt an Avengers-style trick on television. In the beginning, the plan was to produce four television shows and bring them together in a fifth show called Marvel’s The Defenders. The plan took a little bit longer than anyone expected — Marvel’s Daredevil pulled off a second season before the first year of Iron Fist could be mounted — but it did come to fruition as an eight-episode series worthy of a Certified Fresh 77% rating on the Tomatometer and an Audience Score of 75%.
And yet, somewhere along the way, the plan still derailed. After The Defenders debuted, various members of cast and crew referred to it as a miniseries. Marvel’s Jessica Jones star Krysten Ritter said she was told it was always intended to be a one-off thing.
Then the ax came for Iron Fist and Luke Cage. The former felt inevitable; the show’s second season received the greatest season-over-season gain in Tomatometer history, but it still left the show with a 55% score and the series at an embarrassing 37% overall. Luke Cage‘s cancellation was more of a surprise with a generally well-received second season (a Certified Fresh 83%) to its credit and a writers’ room working on scripts for a third season.
So what went wrong? Why has Netflix seemingly cooled off on its relationship with Marvel Entertainment? And what could it mean for the remaining shows. Also, is there still hope for Luke Cage and Iron Fist? Let’s take a look at what we know.
(Photo by Sarah Shatz/Netflix)
While Netflix never offers concrete viewership numbers, social media engagement is often a good indicator of a Netflix Original Series’ success. Fans of Mystery Science Theater 3000 took to Twitter and other platforms to convince the service to greenlight a 12th season and the social media reaction to Sense8’s cancellation led to a wrap-up film.
As it happens, the engagement on Luke Cage and Iron Fist fell sharply after their debut seasons. Which is a real shock considering Luke Cage reportedly taxed Netflix’s servers into a shutdown when the first season became available in October 2016. Again, it is still unclear if that engagement directly correlates to raw viewership, but it is an indication that both shows simply failed to capture the imaginations of Netflix subscribers.
Or, ultimately, the shows were not as appealing as Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Marvel’s The Punisher, which would be necessar to justify their existence. And considering the way the companies ramped up the release schedule — Iron Fist season 2 and Daredevil season 3 debuted just over a month apart — it may just have been too much to support. Flooding the market with product is a trademark Marvel move longtime readers of the comics will recognize, but there may have been other factors involved.
(Photo by Sarah Shatz/Netflix)
Quality may not have been an issue at all. Netflix changed its posture when The Walt Disney Company announced its plans to launch its own streaming service in 2019, around the time the company’s long-term licensing deal with Netflix expires. All the Disney-owned content, which includes the Marvel Studios films, Star Wars movies, and Disney’s animated offerings like Coco, will vanish from Netflix sometime next year and, presumably, populate Disney as-yet-unnamed platform. (Also read: “7 Ways TV and Streaming Fans Win With the Disney-Fox Deal.”)
Specific details on the service are still cloudy, but reports indicate much of its film and television library will end up on the platform before too long. The actual rollout will likely follow the pattern DC Universe is employing to stagger its library with material cycling in and out at a regular interval.
No matter Disney’s plans, though, it will be a major rival to Netflix before too long and many suspect the end of Luke Cage and Iron Fist relates directly to this eventual competition between the streaming service and Marvel’s parent company. When Disney first announced its platform in 2017, Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos said the Marvel brand is “not that exclusive,” before adding “Netflix has The Defenders.” Up until Iron Fist‘s demise, the company repeatedly confirmed the shows were staying put. Although, just before Daredevil‘s debut last week, Sarandos said, “Those shows are for us to cancel, and we’re super happy with their performance so far.” Before Luke Cage was cancelled, the statement seemed hopeful. Now, there is a certain ominous tone to the phrase “for us to cancel.”
In the case of Luke Cage, the situation may have been more interpersonal as a reported dispute regarding the length of the third season appears to have led to Netflix’s seemingly abrupt cancellation of that season. Additionally, creative differences about the scripts themselves may have led to the quick decision. But with the relationship between Marvel and Netflix changing, cancelling a program they do not own outright instead of fighting a creative battle must have looked appealing in the moment. Presumably that lack of ownership will come into play when both parties consider the remaining shows.
(Photo by Netflix)
While Marvel’s long-term future at Netflix may be coming to an end, the situation may not be apocalyptic. Some have noted that none of the stars or top-line creatives involved in Iron Fist or Luke Cage have rushed out to find new work. Granted, in the case of Luke Cage, the situation changed dramatically one week ago, and we may see those talents dispersing into new opportunities. But for the moment, let’s assume Marvel Entertainment has assured them of some sort of future.
Then there’s the wording of Marvel and Netflix’s joint statement regarding Iron Fist, in which both companies said, “While the series on Netflix has ended, the immortal Iron Fist will live on.” The sentence immediately led many to speculate the show may have a future on one of Disney streaming services. While the upcoming Disney platform might seem like the natural outlet, the company’s majority control of Hulu may see it become a venue for revived Luke Cage and Iron Fist shows. Reportedly, Hulu will play home to Disney and 20th Century Fox’s more adult-friendly fare, while the Disney-branded service offers content for general audiences. And considering Hulu is already the home of Marvel’s Runaways and the streaming home of Freeform’s Cloak & Dagger, the grittier Marvel shows will not be out of place there.
Of course, it is unclear what form such a Hulu revival would take. Plenty of people want both shows to contort into a Heroes for Hire or Daughters of the Dragon series. Some would even like both. As Luke Cage’s Misty Knight (Simone Missick) and Iron Fist’s Colleen Wing (Jessica Henwick) were breakout characters and very appealing elements of Iron Fist’s second season, focusing on them in a Daughters of the Dragon series makes a certain sense. As Luke Cage showrunner Cheo Hodari Coker told us in June, people were already asking for Daughters of the Dragon while the second season was in development.
Then again, both Iron Fist and Luke Cage ended their second season on cliffhangers worthy of resolution.
It would be interesting to see a Heroes for Hire series begin with both Luke and Danny exiled from New York for reasons left unexplained, but related to where their shows left off. And if we are being greedy, a Daughters of the Dragon series could see Colleen and Misty setting their own path.
Meanwhile, Marvel Studios contributes its planned limited series on the Disney-branded service. It almost sounds ideal to keep the Marvel Studios product on Disney while odder shows like Luke Cage and Runaways take root at Hulu.
While the news of recent weeks is sad, particularly for fans of Luke Cage and Iron Fist, the relationship between Netflix and Marvel will continue into the short term. Daredevil just debuted its third season, and it might be the best season of any of the Defenders-related programs (though its 92% on the Tomatometer is still down 7% from the series’ season 1 height).
A third year of Jessica Jones and a second season of The Punisher are also in various stages of production, meaning the latter two will return to Netflix for at least one more season. Daredevil is, at the moment, a question mark. As executive producer and showrunner Erik Oleson recently told us, he “can’t talk about the future,” but is nevertheless hopeful the quality of the work will merit continuing the series. As the flagship program, its future will be the bellwether of the Marvel shows beyond 2019.
Jessica Jones, meanwhile, may be heading toward a natural conclusion on its own. Just as work began on the new season, showrunner Melissa Rosenberg announced her departure from the series following the third year for an overall production deal at Warner Bros. Television. It is a major creative change that could be recognized in the story, with Jessica (Ritter) and Trish (Rachael Taylor) getting more closure on Netflix than Danny of Luke. Or, at the very least, the final episode of Rosenberg’s run could be reworked into something more definitive.
(Photo by Netflix)
As Oleson told us, producing a season of a Marvel show is not unlike writing a “run of the comic,” with the understanding that someone else will always be along to tell more stories with the characters. Rosenberg may have guided the show to an end point that Netflix will use to justify its cancellation. The Punisher, sitting at a 66% on the Tomatometer, may have the wisdom to give Frank Castle (Jon Bernthal) a worthwhile send-off, while leaving a bit of hope for a Hulu resurrection.
And should all of the shows leave Netflix for Hulu or the same cancellation bin shared by Marvel’s Agent Carter and Marvel’s Inhumans, Netflix will be fine for comic-book content as it looks to a future with programs like The Umbrella Academy and content emerging from Millarworld, the comic-book company the service bought in August 2017. Plans are already in place to develop films based on creator Mark Millar’s Empress and Huck and series from his Jupiter’s Legacy and American Jesus comics. Another Millarworld project, Sharkey The Bounty Hunter, is being developed as a film and comic book concurrently.
But with just about every Marvel cancellation, there comes the sadness that story-lines will not be resolved. The small, but dedicated fanbase of Agent Carter is still infatuated with star Hayley Atwell and hopes for resolution regarding Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray), just as many Luke Cage viewers hope to see how Luke deals with running Harlem’s Paradise. While Marvel Television President Jeph Loeb could not be reached for comment, his previous statement about Agent Carter probably applies here as well: “Find us a network.” All he needs is a platform to carry to series and he will bring it back. To him, the shows Marvel put into production are strong enough to go the 100-episode distance. While it is doubtful he will ever orchestrate the return of Inhumans, Heroes for Hire devotees should remain hopeful.
The fact is, Marvel never lets an idea die. Luke and Danny’s popularity in comics also waxes and wanes over the decades, but they are always poised to make a comeback with good creative people at the helm. And even if neither show was strong enough on its own, the interest in the team-ups both shows teased could be enough to give the shows another life. It is just a matter of when and how.
(Photo by Zade Rosenthal; © Marvel. All rights reserved. / © Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection)
When it finally arrives in 2019, Disney’s streaming platform will have some very special Marvel content, according to a Variety report that emerged on Tuesday. Marvel Studios will make its first foray into the television realm with an ongoing series of limited-run programs on the as-yet-unnamed Disney streaming service.
The initial two series reportedly will focus on Loki and Scarlet Witch, respectively, with actors Tom Hiddleston and Elizabeth Olsen reprising their roles from Avengers: Infinity War and earlier Marvel Studios feature film efforts.
Unlike the previous Marvel television shows, produced by the functionally separate Marvel Entertainment, these limited series will have the direct stamp of Marvel Studios and the budgets to match. We’re also assuming they will employ the eight-episode format of many limited series.
But it makes for an exciting opportunity as the Marvel Cinematic Universe‘s quipsters and supporting players will finally get stories all their own without the mainline Avengers stealing the spotlight. It may also be the place for a handful of previously unseen Marvel Comics characters to make their debut. Here is a look at what Loki and Scarlet Witch series might cover and 10 more characters worthy of the limited series treatment.
There are two limited series definitely on the horizon, if the report is correct: Loki and Scarlet Witch. While the latter is more of a supporting character, the former is anything but secondary. Loki has been a major element of the Thor films and was the Avengers’ first opponent. Nonetheless, he is a fan favorite and spinning him off into his own series means he can avoid betraying Thor for a little while.
It is easy to imagine a Loki limited series focusing on the God of Mischief’s attempt to play the hero as the remaining Asgardians look for a new home. It may also offer Loki a legitimate path to the throne and adoration should he be able to keep his inclinations in check. Those interior temptations could prove to be a tougher opponent than anything the cosmos can throw at him.
Wanda Maximoff’s story line meanwhile, could redefine the character. Lacking the option to use her mutant roots, the MCU Scarlet Witch is as much a product of the Infinity Stones and Hydra experimentation as anything else. It smoothed over the rough edges of her story, but left her in that off-screen place where she and Vision fell in love.
A limited series focusing on Wanda could offer the opportunity to introduce the mutants by way of her famous father Magneto. But it could also give the character a change to process everything she’s been through over the last few years and, perhaps, confront unresolved issues from those days in the Hydra installation.
Though he played an important role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) became something of a bit player in his subsequent MCU appearances. Granted, there is only so much screentime for Sam with Bucky (Sebastian Stan) hogging the screen and universe-shattering events transpiring around Team Cap.
A Falcon limited series could revolve around Sam finding a new role following the fourth Avengers film. Presuming he is willed back into existence, will he choose to stay a high-flying Avenger, return to his support-group days, or something altogether new? Come to think of it, the superhero community will need its own support group and Sam is uniquely qualified for that job.
Somewhere along the way, the MCU lost Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). To be fair, Marvel Comics lost her as well over the decades. She’s not exactly Thor’s one true pairing – like the god that he is, he certainly gets around – which means she never received a defining comic-book treatment to import into the films. Thor: The Dark World suggests an interesting character in her refusal to treat Asgardian magic as anything other than science, but as the Thor film series ultimately focused on the strained fraternal philia between Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki, there was, ultimately, no room for Jane.
Marvel Comics solved the Jane problem by making her The Mighty Thor for a time, but a limited series could revolve around her attempts to understand the physical world of the MCU. In both of her on-screen appearances, she was always close to scientific breakthroughs Thor and the other Asgardians ultimately ruined. A series of science-based intrigue – or, indeed, Jane finally making that breakthrough – could woo Portman back to the role. Though, more likely, the part would have to be recast.
Luis (Michael Peña) is Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) scene-stealing prison buddy and business partner. He also has a way with a story. But as the Ant-Man films are more about Scott and the Pym family, Luis’ appearances are limited to his wild tales and tendency to deliver an important punch.
In a limited series, the character could take on some more dimension with a look at this family and his past. One of those cousins he references from time to time could be an interesting foil, as Luis suddenly finds himself a protagonist facing the sort of ethical dilemmas Scott faces in his feature films. At the very least, the show would offer an opportunity to reveal Luis’ last name.
As one of Captain Marvel’s best friends and an Avenger stalwart, Spider-Woman Jessica Drew is always on the periphery of the frame. She’s had a number of comic book series over the years, a short lived cartoon, and played key parts in some of Marvel Comics’ event story lines, but never appeared in live-action despite a winning combination of keen detective skills, a smart mouth, and a penchant for stumbling into trouble.
Her limited series could focus on her path to becoming a hero and unraveling her devilishly convoluted backstory, which includes a brief time as a Hydra operative. As one of the more inherently funny Marvel characters, her show would lend itself to a lighter tone than some of the others, but varying tone is key to Marvel’s film success.
Despite housing one of the Infinity Stones, Vision’s (Paul Bettany) story always plays in the margins of the Avengers feature films. His relationship with Scarlet Witch, for example, occurred almost entirely off-screen. It is an unfortunate truth of his MCU appearances as he is a unique and beloved Marvel hero with a long comic-book history and an easy-to-write screen conflict: his search for his own humanity.
But one of Vision’s more recent comic book tales, the 2015 The Vision series by Tom King and Gabriel Walta, provides a great template for a short-run television series. In it, Vision creates a typical American family for himself in the hopes of better integrating into society. It goes sideways almost immediately when his wife Virginia – whose mind was based on Scarlet Witch’s brain patterns – kills an attacking supervillain and hides the body for fear of risking her family’s freedom. Their children, Viv and Vin, also find their android adolescence to be a difficult journey. It’s a grim story, but perfect for the sort of drama limited series often feature.
Meme-worthy Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is at once the most competent Avenger and the team’s most baffling member. While his comic-book counterpart is known for his bumbling and womanizing, the MCU Hawkeye is a family man who has his crap together. And because of this, his MCU appearances feel more like extended cameos.
In the limited series treatment, audiences could go back to the days before Clint had all his ducks in a row or his lovely family. It could focus on the journey from arrested manchild to highly effective S.H.I.E.L.D. operative the films never had time to explore. Alternatively, it could be a genre-busting family drama, with Clint and Laura (Linda Cardellini) raising their kids in a post-Avengers 4 world.
Somehow, Marvel Comics’ other Hawkeye, Kate Bishop, has yet to make her live-action debut. She is a well-meaning ne’er-do-well who decided to take up detective work to make ends meet while trying to get accepted into the main Avengers team. She also has a cadre of friends and associates ready for television treatment and a primary nemesis in the long-time S.H.I.E.L.D. villain Madame Masque.
And thanks to a Los Angeles–based story line first outlined by Matt Fraction and Annie Wu and later refined by Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero, Kate is the character most ready for the jump to TV. A limited series may have to give her more of an origin, but it could just as easily skip to her detective days and make her adoption of a costumed persona part of the plot.
Now that we know Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) will debut in next March’s Captain Marvel, fans are already curious where her daughter Monica is hiding. In Marvel Comics lore, she took on the Captain Marvel identity in the 1980s after coming into contact with “interdimensional energies” and served as both an Avenger and the company’s primary Captain Marvel for a long time. She later adopted other identities, most recently settling on “Spectrum.” And though she led the Avengers at one point, she has habit of becoming a supporting or guest character in other heroes’ titles.
But as many assume she will be revealed in the present-day MCU with some sort of power, a limited series could focus on that hero training as supervised by the Avengers, much like her early appearances in the Avengers comic. Also that search for the right superhero identity could mirror her own interior struggle to discover herself.
As the no-nonsense librarian unimpressed by Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) quips, Wong (Benedict Wong) stole all of his scenes in Doctor Strange. He also stole his brief scenes in Avengers: Infinity War before teleporting back to the Sanctum Santorum. His fate in light of that film’s conclusion is unknown at the moment, but we fully expect him to be part of Doctor Strange 2’s supporting cast whenever it materialized from the mystical realms of development.
A limited series could focus on how Wong became the Kamar-Taj librarian. In the comics, Wong is the descendant of monks who have long served the Ancient One in the forbidden mountain monastery, but considering the hip edge of the MCU’s Wong, it is possible his journey to the Himalayas may share certain similarities to Strange’s origin. Alternatively, the series could examine how he aided survivors in New York following the Snap.
Yes, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) had a two-season television series. She also featured in one of those Marvel One-Shot short films and appeared in both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Avengers: Age of Ultron. But for us, that is not nearly enough screen time for a character whose exploits extend from World War II to the early 21st century. Also, we’re still miffed ABC chose to cancel Marvel’s Agent Carter and move fan-favorite Atwell to an uninspired legal drama that the network also cancelled.
But in the limited-series realm, a revived Agent Carter would not have to preserve its status quo or hedge its bets in hopes of renewal. It could tell a more complete and daring story than the ABC series. It could also resolve those dangling Leviathan plot lines – not that such closure is a strict requirement, mind you. The series could instead move Peggy to a new context during the formation of S.H.I.E.L.D. or even to a later decade as a member of the leadership group glimpsed in Ant-Man.
Of course, the notion of MCU limited series is still new and exciting. Even the statuses of the Loki and Scarlet Witch series could change by the time Marvel Studios really puts the project into production. But it all points to new and interesting storytelling avenue. One in which the characters can drive the story without having to justify continuing film or television series. That, in and of itself, is pretty cool.
Is there an MCU hero — or villain! — you’d like to see get his or her own series? Tell us in the comments!
In an early episode of of the first season of Agent Carter, Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) donned a blonde wig and sparkling dress in order to go undercover at a glitzy party. For the rest of the season, however, costume designer Giovanna Ottobre-Melton stuck with more everyday clothing for the show’s stars. With the action in season two packing up and moving from New York City to Los Angeles, Old Hollywood glamour finds its way back into the show.
A lot of research goes into the costuming of the show, with many of the costumes either being vintage pieces from the era or recreations from vintage materials. Wynn Everett, who joins the cast this season as glamorous actress-scientist Whitney Frost (inspired by Hedy Lamarr) revealed, “The way they have done this show, from the costumes to the hair to the makeup, they are so determined to stick to detail. Underneath everything we’re wearing [vintage] undergarments. One day I was like, ‘I’m just gonna wear my own undergarments,’ and I walked on set and the costume department was like, ‘Wynn, go back and put on the right bra and the right hose!’ They just are so incredibly detail oriented.”
Joining the cast this season is Reggie Austin as scientist Jason Wilkes, who is a big fan of his wardrobe, saying it’s “just out of control. Everybody gets to wear awesome things. The ’40s were a great time to wear clothes. Everyone gets to wear some really cool, chic get ups. So yeah it’s nice.”
Lesley Boone, who plays Rose, chimed in, “I mean, it’s so much fun. I feel like an actor. Everybody’s dressed up, everybody’s in the ’40s, there are all these cars. You really feel like you’re doing something, not just sitting around on set and waiting.” Enver Gjokaj (Agent Sousa) added, “When I started off acting, this is what I thought acting was going to be. And it wasn’t. But this show, it’s hanging out, ’40s car walks by, tons of extras in costume, and you look up and down the street and you’re in the ’40s. It’s wonderful.”
One inspiration for the men this season, including Agent Sousa, was Frank Sinatra and Montgomery Clift in From Here To Eternity. For this season, Gjokaj says, “Daniel has a bit of a West Coast vibe going on. And he’s running the West Coast SSR, so he’s kind of, he’s the boss now. I think he gets to set whether or not there’s casual Fridays.”
Moving the action of season two from New York City to Los Angeles allowed the show to shoot in some of Los Angeles’ most iconic locations, including the Griffith Observatory, most famously used in Rebel Without A Cause. Star Hayley Atwell said that in prepping for this season, she watched the film, “knowing that we were going to shoot there, and I just wanted to see it on film again. It felt iconic, and a lot of these places Peggy probably will know about as well, so there’s this excitement of when, you know, like for me, 10 years ago when I first came out here and saw the Hollywood sign for the first time. You just think it’s so exciting, that first hit of it. And I think Peggy, who’s doesn’t really have much interest in the Hollywood world, per se, but I think it’s very much in her psyche because it’s part of the culture of her day, to have that kind of Golden Age of Hollywood.”
In this world of Old Hollywood, appearances are everything, but as Atwell points out during this era in Los Angeles’s history, “of course there’s an undercurrent of darkness, and that’s a lot to do with the gangsters and the serial killers that were kind of rife back then. It seemed to be these famous cases, and we’ve touched upon those a little bit. And I think it kind of add more of a film noir feel to it, and does make the whole thing a little bit more filmic.”
New to the cast, Kurtwood Smith, who plays War Department veteran Verson Masters, added, “I think it has a very noir feeling this year.”
Showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters confirmed they watched Noir Summer on Turner Classic Movies while working on the season and found particular inspiration from Gloria Grahame in The Big Heat. They also confided that modern noir like Chinatown and L.A. Confidential were also a big influence, with Fazekas elaborating, “L.A. Confidential was a big touchstone for us even last season.”
Butters added, “When you’re talking about telling stories in the ’40s, a lot of the film noir of the ’40s takes place in L.A. And obviously, we shoot in L.A. So it had been something that we had talked about a lot. And we started to build the story around that because what’s great about that is, you have the glamour and glitz of Hollywood and you have crime and corruption right next to each other. We just started to say ‘Well, how would we get Peggy to L.A.?'”
The two-hour season premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter airs on January 19th at 9PM on ABC.
The end of season one saw a lot of changes for Marvel’s Agent Carter. Jack Thompson (Chad Michael Murray) was promoted to head of the Strategic Scientific Reserve (SSR) after the death of Chief Dooley (Shea Whigham), Soviet trained assassin Dottie Underwood (Bridget Regan) escaped, Daniel Sousa (Enver Gjokaj) finally asked Peggy on a date (to no avail), and Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) saved the day (without recognition) and finally let go of Captain America/Steve Rogers (well, his blood anyway). Season two brings an even bigger change: the action is moving from New York City to Los Angeles. On a visit to the set of season two, we spoke with the cast and showrunners about what to expect in the new season.
This season’s move to Los Angeles opened up the possibility of incorporating the city into the show. Showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters loved the freedom of shooting wide shots. Fazekas explained, “You’ll see the Griffith Observatory and you’ll see some beautiful shots of driving through Los Angeles. I think it’s been a real huge benefit to the show. I mean there’s some beautiful shots down at the L.A. river and I mean, just really kind of iconic L.A.” “There’s nothing that says L.A. more than pulling a body out of the L.A. River,” added Butters.
In season one we saw Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) on the run, with his valet Edwin Jarvis (James D’Arcy) helping Peggy Carter anyway he can to clear Stark’s name. As the action moves to Los Angeles, so does Peggy and Jarvis’ relationship. On their partnership, D’Arcy said, “Peggy knows that Jarvis is someone that she can trust and a confidant — whilst not necessarily being the number one draft pick for going on missions. You know, I think she quite likes torturing him as well. So there’s a sort of a glee in her face as she makes me do things I don’t want to do. And god bless Jarvis; he’s game and ineffective for the most part.”
In an early episode of the season Peggy and Jarvis have to deal with one of Stark’s newest acquisitions — a real live flamingo. According to D’Arcy, “There were four flamingos ranging in aggressive natures from quite mild to psychotic. And the nicest one was called Simon. And then the one that was a menace to society was called Cannibal. I had to do this scene where I had to chase the flamingo around and maybe be chased by the flamingo. And it all looked very funny on paper, then I sort of arrived and said ‘Just checking, it’s not dangerous with a… I mean, it’s a flamingo, right? It’s not dangerous?’ And they went, ‘Oh yah. Oh yah, cowboy, that thing will peck your eyes out,’ and I was like, ‘Okay?!’ And then the handlers kept calling me ‘cowboy,’ which did not inspire confidence. And so the girl put her arm out and Cannibal just went to town — he’s pecking away like a maniac. So I thought, ‘This is worrying.’ And then — and THEN — it turned out that flamingos, that Cannibal really liked me. And Cannibal sort of refused to peck me, or chase me, or be chased by me. Cannibal just wanted a hug. But as soon as the handlers came back in, Cannibal went nuts again. So we had to have them stand off camera, so that they would either run away or towards them. Poor Cannibal. I think he was pretty happy when his day was over.”
When we first met Dottie, she seemed like just another working woman living in Peggy Carter’s boarding hotel, but as season one progressed, it was revealed that Dottie was actually a Soviet assassin — one who always managed to escape. On working with Regan again for season two, Atwell said, “This is a different relationship, in some ways. Without spoiling anything, I need her. And I also get to have scenes with her which are like a chess game. As an actor, that’s incredibly exhilarating, because a lot of the scenes between us are so filled with subtext, and yet, on the surface, she’s got this very soft spoken elegant voice. And yet, you know she’s an assassin.”
Although in season one the sexual tension between Sousa and Peggy was not a main plot point, it was there, and the season ended with Peggy turning him down for a date. When asked whether that would come into play in season two, Gjokaj said, “When season two starts, we don’t know what’s happened, but something has passed between them. Such that Daniel decides to start his life over again in L.A., running the West Coast Bureau [of the SSR]. Chad’s character, Jack Thompson, decides that it would be really, really funny when I ask some for back up to send out Peggy.”
New to season two, Jason Wilkes (Reggie Austin) is a scientist helping Peggy throughout the season. Austin said of the two characters, “When they meet, each of them instantly sees something in the other. Peggy is rising through the ranks and as a woman working in the SSR trying to make a name for herself, and stand on her own, of her own accord, and Jason Wilkes is working as a scientist, one of the top scientists in his field, but he’s had to work hard to get there. So it’s the similar sort of struggle of an African-American and a woman in the 1940s trying to succeed. I think that they sort of both see that in one another.”
Another set of new characters introduced in season two are actress Whitney Frost (Wynn Everett) and her husband, senatorial candidate Calvin Chadwick (Currie Graham). Of their relationship, actor Graham said, “We’re a power couple to sort of make it short. Think of Bill and Hillary. It’s that kind of thing. It’s that kind of relationship. I think that Chadwick was attracted to her because of her beauty and she’s obviously a very smart woman, very successful, also very type A, and so we really strive — both of us, I think — for greatness.”
On the character of Whitney Frost, who was inspired in part by Hedy Lamarr, Everett said that although she is a famous actress, she’s “also a scientist, and in the history of the comics includes a certain alter ego. So just the prospect of maybe one day getting to play that alter ego was beyond exciting.”
Whitney Frost in the comics is also known as villain Madame Masque.
Although showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters insist the show is still very much theirs creatively, they will be adding more from the Marvel comics this season, including Dark Force, which they will be calling Zero Matter. Butters elaborated, “It’s 1947. They don’t know, they don’t call it Dark Force, they don’t know where it comes from.”
Writer and Executive Producer Chris Dingess added, “When we were talking about Los Angeles, we started talking about the city. Then we started talking about the desert and what was going on in the desert. It was all the scientific exploration that was starting to take place in Los Angeles with JPL, and then just different types of testing that was going on in the desert. That lead us to talking about Area 51 and the sci-fi of it all, and the movies that were born from the ’40s into the ’50s and stuff like that. And so we started talking about sci-fi elements and that led us towards Dark Force.”
There will also be more “Easter eggs” and tie-ins to the Marvel Cinematic Universe throughout the season. On the introduction of Dark Force, Butters added, “Certainly with Dark Force, it touches on Dr. Strange.”
The two-hour season premiere of Marvel’s Agent Carter airs on January 19th at 9PM on ABC.
Happy New Year from Rotten Tomatoes! Hopefully, your resolutions don’t involve watching less TV because 2016 promises to be rich with more scripted shows than ever. Many are coming back this month, some are hitting streaming, and a few are just darn cool. So grab your remote and whatever terrible low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat snack you’re eating for the next two weeks and start bingeing!
What it is: After spending 18 years in prison for a crime that he didn’t commit, Steven Avery is exonerated by DNA evidence. Two years later he is arrested again for a murder he may not have committed.
Why you should watch it: Filmed over a ten-year period, this highly bingeable series provides a detailed account of the unfathomable events in Avery’s life. The story takes so many unexpected twists and turns that it’s not immediately clear where the truth lies. A guilty man may be facing his comeuppance, or an innocent man might be suffering one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice imaginable.
Where to watch: Netflix
Commitment: 10 hours.
Why you should watch it: With the reboot premiering on Fox later this month, now is the perfect time to get caught up on this era-defining sci-fi show. Most of the episodes follow a case-of-the week (or monster-of-the-week) format, with Mulder and Scully in pursuit of strange leads in remote locations. They don’t always solve each mystery, but they often discover that truth is stranger than fiction. There are also the myth-arc episodes, which revolve around a government conspiracy to cover up the existence of an alien threat to humanity. Basically, think Criminal Minds meets The Twilight Zone and you’ll be on the right track.
Commitment: 154 hours.
What it is: In the midst of the Cold War, a young East German soldier with an ailing mother is tasked with going undercover in the West to steal NATO military secrets.
Why you should watch it: Deutschland 83 is a bit like The Americans’ European cousin, capturing the tension and paranoia of the Cold War from the perspective of a conflicted spy on the front lines. Jonas Nay plays Martin Rauch as both a resourceful operative and a wide-eyed innocent, at once committed to his mission and enticed by the freedoms he finds in the West. It’s tense, exciting stuff, full of evocative period details and fascinating personal conflicts.
Commitment: 6 hours.
What it is: Liza Miller, a newly single mom, is 40 and without a job. After a chance encounter, she decides to go for broke and enlists the help of her best friend to get a makeover and re-enter the workforce as a 26-year-old.
Why you should watch it: Two factors that should seal the deal on your binge quest: Younger is from famed Sex in the City creator Darren Star, and the show stars Sutton Foster, who out-charms every scene, person and thing she appears with. The show also boasts a cast of delightful characters; sweet, fun exploits; and a whimsical perspective that’s worth your precious time before season two airs on Jan. 13.
Commitment: 4 hours.
What it is: Living in the long shadow of his world-famous adventuring playboy father (who vanished under unknown circumstances), Dr. Venture is a disgraced scientist who drags his twin sons, Hank and Dean, around the world on violent misadventures with their Led Zeppelin-lovin’ bodyguard Brock Samson.
Why you should watch it: Initially a spoof on Jonny Quest, Venture Bros. has morphed over its five seasons into a hybrid screwball action/comedy, where the jokes whiz by as fast as the bullets and lasers. Popular characters are slaughtered to jar viewers, the pop culture references range from lowbrow to highly esoteric, and the series’ world-building and callbacks to earlier episodes are unparalleled. It’s a ruthless, specific humor which stems from the fact that the show is still driven by its creators, Jackson Publick and Doc Hammer, who write, direct, and voice most of the vast variety of characters (which explains why it takes forever to get new seasons).
Commitment: 24 hours.
What it is: Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Agent Carter takes place shortly after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger, following the exploits of Peggy Carter as she joins the Strategic Scientific Reserve in post-WWII New York City.
Why you should watch it: Essential viewing for fans of the MCU, Agent Carter expands on the background that led to the creation of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Stark Industries, while also infusing the universe with a spunky feminist twist. Peggy Carter is one tough cookie who relies on her wits as much as she does her physical strength, battling villains as well as the internalized (and sometimes externalized) sexism of mid-century America.
Commitment: 5.5 hours.
What it is: An idealistic small-town government supervisor with an obsessive work ethic and a penchant for waffles helps keep her local Parks and Recreation department running smoothly, despite an eccentric team of easily distracted employees and a boss who deliberately attempts to undermine the bureaucratic process.
Why you should watch it: Here’s why you should watch Parks and Rec: Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, Chris Pratt, Aziz Ansari, Rashida Jones, Aubrey Plaza, Adam Scott, and Rob Lowe. There’s a reason why this unabashedly sweet and silly workplace sitcom became the calling card for some of today’s biggest and most promising stars. Part of it has to do with the writing, to be sure — equal parts clever and absurd, incisively satirical at times and lovably earnest at others. Morever, though, each role was so perfectly cast that every star was allowed to shine. Amy Poehler is Leslie Knope, Nick Offerman is Ron Swanson, Chris Pratt is Andy Dwyer, Rob Lowe is Chris Traeger (“lit’rally”), and it is very, very hard to dislike any of them. You will laugh, and you will find yourself wishing you could be a part of the gang. This is comfort TV at its finest.
Commitment: 48.5 hours.
What it is: After his girlfriend dumps him, struggling writer Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman) puts an ad on Craigslist, advertising himself as an unlicensed private detective. As his moonlight investigation job takes off, his best friend Ray (Zach Galifianakis) and his boss George (Ted Danson) join him on his adventures.
Why you should watch it: It’s a neo-noir comedy with a great ensemble. Ted Danson is awesome, and the stable of recurring and guest stars is formidable. Many feel the series was cancelled too soon, and talk of a follow-up movie (Ames reported in 2015 that he’s working on another draft of the script) continues to keep the detective dream alive. Also, it should get you in the laughing mood for Galifianakis’ upcoming new comedy series, Baskets, premiering Jan. 21 on FX.
Commitment: 12 hours.
What it is: The order of a second season has led The Missing into the anthology series pool. Season one is the horrifyingly realistic tragedy of one couple’s search for their young son, who goes missing during a holiday in France.
Why you should watch it: Subject matter like this can be difficult; it makes one wonder why watching a story about a missing child could be considered “entertainment.” But the familial dramatic arc and the unfolding mystery are presented with exceptional insight, as the characters’ daunting lives are carried out with specificity by a stellar cast that meets the challenge set before them.
Commitment: 13 hours.
What it is: In USA Network’s legal drama about a brilliant but unlicensed lawyer (Patrick J. Adams) and his polished mentor (Gabriel Macht), “suits” can refer to the millions of dollars in play for each case — or the well-dressed, fast-talking, claptrap-thinking litigators who wear them.
Why you should watch it: There’s usually an interesting lawsuit at the center of every episode, but the dynamic at the office of Pearson Hardman is Suits‘ bread and butter. From Louis Litt’s bullying of the associates to Harvey Specter’s obsession with winning, every character develops into someone you either love or love to hate. With a big cliffhanger heading into the Jan. 27 midseason premiere, now is the perfect time to study up on this quick, smart, well-tailored drama.
Commitment: 50 hours.
Members of the Television Critics Association gathered at the Beverly Hilton Tuesday and Wednesday for presentations from ABC Disney, featuring their upcoming slate of original programming. The network offered a glimpse at the highly anticipated return of The Muppets, plans for Grey’s Anatomy revamped 12th season, how the second season of breakout hit How to Get Away with Murder will dig up the past of the Keating Five, Agent Carter’s glamorous new setting, and the new boomtown drama Oil & Blood.
Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy addressed the press alongside producers Bill Prady and Bob Kushell to present the highly anticipated return of The Muppets. Kushell spoke about the musical legacy of the series, promising to deliver “top-notch” musical acts like Imagine Dragons, but made it very clear that the new Muppets program is not a variety show. Prady noted that the old Muppets series mocked the variety show format because that was the dominant form of television at the time, and that he wanted to update the genre for modern audiences.
The Muppets is a mockumentary series in the vein of The Office that depicts the behind-the-scenes happenings during the production of Miss Piggy’s late-night talk show “Up Late with Miss Piggy.” Musical acts will feature in the series as guests on the show. “You’ll see parts of the show with those bands on the show, but there won’t be a full act,” said Kushell. The series also promises a new big celebrity guest – such as Reese Witherspoon — each week.
Grey’s Anatomy fans are still distraught over the loss of Patrick Dempsey’s Dr. Derek “McDreamy” Shepherd, but prepare to dry your eyes. While addressing the press, series creator Shonda Rhimes said “the sun will rise again” in the twelfth season with the series taking on a “lighter tone.” During his executive session, Lee noted that the series “reinvents itself again next season and praised the writing that led to McDreamy’s death, saying that “it was great to see Grey’s Anatomy so relevant and taking the national conversation” after so many years on the air.
Rhimes spoke about the decision to kill off Dempsey’s beloved character, saying that it was the only way she could keep “Meredith and Derek’s magic remain true and forever frozen in time,” and that the idea of other scenarios, such as Derek walking out on Meredith and the kids, were “untenable.” Star Ellen Pompeo called it Rhimes’ “best writing,” and noted that those “really juicy” scenes are the best for actors to play.
Next season will follow Meredith as she experiences a “rebirth” and learns to cope with the loss of her husband, but don’t expect to see a new man in her life any time soon. “She’s not interested in any of that,” said Rhimes. Will the series last long enough to see Meredith happily in love again? According to Lee, there’s “no reason to expect that Grey’s Anatomy won’t go on for many, many years to come.”
Elsewhere in Shondaland, How to Get Away with Murder’s sophomore season will dive into the past of the Keating Five, revealing a lot more of their backstories, including how they met and “what dark, twisted things have happened to them in the past that have now made them into these kind of twisted people in the present,” said showrunner Pete Nowalk.
Nowalk confirmed that the second season will pick up about a week after where season one left off with Annalise (Viola Davis) facing down the question, “what has she wrought?” After the death of Rebecca, the second season will explore how the characters “actions with each other [get] more complicated and dirtier and grimier,” revealing that even though you think you know who the characters are at this point, “you don’t know them at all.”
The second season of Marvel’s Captain America spin-off series Agent Carter is headed to Los Angeles and it’s going to be lavish in some old Hollywood glamour. The series stars Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter, chronicling the exploits of the secret agent as she adjusts to post-war life.
On the new setting, ABC executive Paul Lee said, “It’s really opening it up because, suddenly, you have the glamour of late ’40s Hollywood, and you have Hayley in that environment, taking off the big, heavy coats and enjoying herself.” While Lee didn’t provide any details on plans to expand the network’s Marvel programming, he made it clear that furthering relationship is a top priority, saying, “I’m very bullish about Marvel on the network and its future.”
The new booMtown drama Blood & Oil may bear a surface resemblance to the classic late-night soap Dallas, but according to star Don Johnson, the similarities end there. “The only thing that we have in common is that, tangentially, oil is a part of it,” said Johnson. “Blood & Oil is about a boomtown, and a big family, and the seven deadly sins at play.”
Johnson went on to say that Larry Hagman’s iconic oil Baron J.R. Ewing was “not at all” a consideration in the formation of his character, which is an “amalgamation” of a number of oil magnates he knows in real life.
The new drama is a fictionalized account of the true life North Dakota oil boom that began in 2006. Johnson said he was attracted to the “depth and the richness of the stories” and that he personally recruited co-star Chase Crawford, “I called him and questioned his intelligence if he didn’t [take the role].”
Water-cooler shows Game of Thrones and Mad Men return to the air next month so now is the time to catch up if you don’t want to feel left out on Monday mornings. Already caught up? Then we have some other shows for you to binge this month too!
What it is: AMC’s breakout hit shows the ins and outs of a 1960s ad agency in New York City helmed by the mysterious, philandering, booze-swillin’ Don Draper (Jon Hamm).
Why you should watch it: This year Mad Men ends forever and the last batch of episodes starts on Sunday, Apr. 5. If you’ve noticed the rise of retro over the past decade, then you’re already aware of Mad Men‘s cultural influence. With acclaimed performances by Hamm, Elisabeth Moss, John Slattery, and Christina Hendricks, Mad Men has been a critics’ darling over its seven-year run.
Commitment: 70 hours.
What it is: George RR Martin’s epic Song of Fire and Ice fantasy novels come alive in HBO’s four seasons of blood-spurting, sibling-bedding, dragon-breathing action, set in a fictional, highly political, medieval world.
Why you should watch it: With season five returning to HBO on Sunday, Apr. 12 at 9 pm, this is your chance to get in on the conversation. Immersing you in the world of Westeros, Game of Thrones has many well-developed characters whose arcs take shocking turns. Certified Fresh for all four seasons, the show is also incredible to look at with big-budget production values that rival any blockbuster film.
Where to watch: Seasons one through four are available on HBO Go, DVD, and Blu-ray.
Commitment: 40 hours.
What it is: In this Batman prequel set in the corruption of Gotham City, Detectives Jim Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) investigate the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, while running up against a number of villains from the Batman universe.
Why you should watch it: Currently on hiatus until Apr. 13, you have time to catch up on Fox’s Monday night drama that often successfully blends the fun of the comic books with a gritty police procedural. Plus, any episode featuring Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot is a win.
Commitment: 18 hours.
What it is: Based on the bestselling books by Diana Gabaldon, Outlander is the story of Claire Beauchamp Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a married WWII nurse who finds herself mysteriously transported back in time to 1743 where she meets an irresistible Scottish warrior (Sam Heughan).
Why you should watch it: In addition to bringing two separate historical time periods to life, the Certified Fresh Outlander will win you over with its heroine Claire, whose sexy, feisty nature is anything but dated. Season one returns with new episodes on Saturday, Apr. 4, on Starz.
Where to watch: All eight episodes of season one are available on Starz Play.
Commitment: 8 hours.
What it is: Hayley Atwell, who made appearances as Peggy Carter in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., has her own show on ABC set in post-WWII America. By day, Peggy holds down a routine office gig, but by night, she is a special agent for Howard Stark.
Why you should watch it: The season one finale aired last month, so now you can watch all the episodes without having to wait a week in between, which — with the number of cliffhangers in the critically acclaimed first season — is a very good thing.
Commitment: 8 hours.
What it is: In this French TV series brought to the U.S. by SundanceTV, a handful of residents materialize after being dead for a number of years. No one is really sure whether to celebrate or run for the hills.
Why you should watch it: Although the American reboot on A&E is a decent version (this week’s debut was Fresh at 66 percent), the Certified Fresh original is a superior alternative for people who don’t mind subtitles. Totally creepy and engrossing, the French version also has a superb cast who gives these undead some je ne ce quoi!
Commitment: 8 hours.
What it is: Ellie Kemper plays Kimmy Schmidt, who after living as a “mole woman” in an Indiana cult for 15 years, escapes to a new life in New York City in the Netflix original from Tina Fey.
Why you should watch it: Currently Certified Fresh at 95 percent, critics agree that Kemper shines as Kimmy, whose spirit cannot be broken by the challenges of life in the five boroughs. Add 30 Rock-style humor from a hilarious cast that includes Tituss Burgess, Jane Krakowski, and Carol Kane, and this is one binge that will leave you smiling all weekend.
Where to watch: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is only available on Netflix.
Commitment: 6 hours.
What it is: David Tennant stars as a hot-shot barrister with a knack for defending the guilty who finds himself haunted by his own guilt in this three-part PBS Masterpiece Mystery from last year.
Why you should watch it: Anyone watching Broadchurch season two on BBC America will no doubt want something to fill the void from Wednesday to Wednesday and this self-contained British mystery not only thrills but also captures the emotional fallout of unspeakable crimes.
Commitment: 3 hours.
Which of these shows would you recommend to a friend? Let us know in the comments section below!
Marya E. Gates for Rotten Tomatoes: The finale has a trademark Marvel after-the-credits type scene.
Tara Butters: I know S.H.I.E.L.D. does it sometimes. We had never needed to do one of those, but it felt weirdly appropriate for this episode.
RT: In the final scene of the finale, we have Dr. Zola from the Captain America movies. We haven’t really heard if there will be more Agent Carter.
Michele Fazekas: Neither have we!
RT: Does this mean we will see more of Operation Paperclip and Hydra from The Winter Soldier?
Butters: I don’t think so. I feel like that story has been told by others very well. What the intent of that last scene was that this ties into the great Marvel Cinematic Universe in that Dr. Fennhoff’s research is sort of the beginning of the Winter Soldier program. So there’s no plan ahead for that to be the next bad guy. S.H.I.E.L.D. does S.H.I.E.L.D. really well and the Cap movies deal with Hydra, so I don’t feel like we need to tell that story. Unless we come up with an amazing take on it. But there’s no plan.
RT: I love that Angie and Peggy finally got a really nice How To Marry A Millionaire-esque apartment.
Fazekas: I love that scene, and I think Angie is so funny in that scene. Like, ‘Oh my God, are you kidding me?!’ I love Peggy and Jarvis in that scene. It’s our favorite scene. I love how it was directed, I love how it was performed. You just want to see more and more.
RT: With Peggy dropping Cap’s blood into the river, does that mean she’s finally going to move on?
Butters: Yes. Her whole emotional journey through these eight episodes starts with her remembering that day and realizing that she’s stuck. These eight episodes have been about her finding herself again and part of finding herself again is actually her realizing she needs to let go.
RT: But she still didn’t take Sousa up on his offer for a date. Are they ever going to get together?
Fazekas: Here’s the thing, didn’t you get the sense that for the first time she might be open to it?
RT: I was hoping that’s what that was.
Fazekas: She gives Sousa this nice little smile that he doesn’t see, but we see and I think she’s thrown in the moment when he asks. She wasn’t prepared for it so her reaction comes afterwards. Because she truly is busy.
Butters: She’s got something to do, which is go meet Jarvis and Angie, but the intent there was for the first time maybe she’s open to this. Maybe with Sousa, maybe not with Sousa. But she’s, for the first time, open to that part of herself. I love Sousa in that scene. When he goes to ask her out, what he does first is put his crutch down, then turns to ask her out. It’s just a little subtle thing.
Fazekas: It’s just this little subtle thing, like, ‘I’m not going to be that guy. I’m gonna be me.’
RT: As the episode ends, we find out that Dottie escapes. Is she going to pop up again in the Marvel Universe elsewhere?
Fazekas: Certainly in our universe, I wouldn’t mind seeing her again.
Butters: Oh yeah.
Fazekas: She’s a really fun foil for Peggy. I love Bridget Regan. I love those two together.
Butters: You can’t kill her off. There’s no way.
RT: Will we see more Peggy?
Butters: More episodes? I don’t know.
Fazekas: We don’t make that decision, but we’re in if everyone else is.
As ABC’s Certified Fresh series Marvel’s Agent Carter ends its eight episode limited run tonight at 9 pm, we talk with showrunners Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters about last week’s penultimate episode (R.I.P, Chief Dooley!) and what to expect in tonight’s finale.
Marya E. Gates for Rotten Tomatoes: In episode 7, “Snafu,” we saw the demise of Chief Dooley. I’m a bit heartbroken, although if you’re going to go out — go out with a bang, right? Can you talk about how you came to that decision and what that means for the team going into the finale?
Michele Fazekas: We knew we wanted to have something consequential happen, something that wasn’t just a red shirt getting killed, something that showed both how powerful Leviathan could be, and something that would effect everybody. Unfortunately, Chief Dooley filled that role very well. I couldn’t love Shea Whigham more; I cannot take my eyes off him in any scene that he’s in.
So, as much as we had had that idea very early on and we had committed to it, as each episode went on, we stated to be like, ‘Do we really want to do this? I mean we do want to do this, but we don’t because we’ll really miss him.’ I think it was really effective. The scene where he jumps out the window and blows up was an amazing feat of visual effects from ILM. It could have been really silly, but it ended up being really exciting.
RT: Another scene that was really powerful in “Snafu” was the interrogation scene where Peggy sort of takes down how all three of the men look at her in a different light and all three of them are wrong. What do you hope the audience got from that scene?
Fazekas: That episode was written by Chris Dingess and he did an amazing job of psychologically undoing each of her relationships, which I loved. That she was perceptive enough to know that Sousa had a crush on her and how Thompson treated her. She put them in their places, which was just lovely since she was the one that was supposed to be being interrogated.
Tara Butters: She took control of her own interrogation.
RT: Peggy from the beginning has been this really complex, wonderful character, while the men sort of grow on the audience as the show progresses. There’s a line early on where she says she’ll make them respect her and I think you guys did a really good job showing that through her relationships with her male coworkers.
Butters: I feel like it’s been a very natural progression. I think people often make snap judgments about people and you kind of see Peggy with these people who have made snap judgments and treat her accordingly.
Fazekas: But she kind of did the same thing to them. She made an assumption about Thompson, that he’s just sort of a prick and then she learned about him in Russia and it’s a side of him that she hadn’t considered.
Butters: We tried to be as era-appropriate as we could without it hindering us. I feel like them being sexist was appropriate for the time.
Fazekas: We’ve gotten that a lot, where it’s like, ‘Oh, I hate the sexism!’ But you’re supposed to hate the sexism!
Butters: Yea, it’s not supposed to be fun. None of it is phony or false — it’s just how they did things. But like anything, the more you get to know someone, you start to see them as a real person and… whether it’s racism or gender-bias, you start to judge them as a person and not by what sex they are.
RT: With this huge bang of an ending for the penultimate episode, what should viewers look forward to in the finale?
Fazekas: Everybody has a moment. Everybody has something that is a character defining moment for them. I’m not saying they’re heroic moments, but there’s a little something for all the characters.
If you’re looking for a confrontation between Dottie and Peggy, you will not be disappointed. You’re going to see Howard Stark in a slightly different light, where he shows a little more vulnerability than we’re used to seeing from him. Peggy has some resolution in her own personal life that I think is very satisfying. I would also say to everyone watching: watch all the way to the end!
Season one of Marvel’s Agent Carter is currently Certified Fresh at 97 percent. Will you be watching tonight’s finale?
James D’Arcy, who plays Edwin Jarvis on ABC’s Marvel’s Agent Carter, told Matt Atchity of Rotten Tomatoes that, “It is the single most fun job I have ever done.” And it doesn’t hurt that he’s having all this fun with Hayley Atwell. D’Arcy and Atwell have been real-life friends for a long time, so their onscreen chemistry is equal parts camaraderie and witty banter from the writers.
It’s no surprise then that D’Arcy’s favorite thing about Jarvis is how he treats Peggy Carter. “I love his wry outlook on the world. He is essentially a good person and unashamedly trying to do his best in the world. I genuinely love that, in 1946, at a time when the word ‘sexism’ had not even really been invented — never mind come into common parlance — that he is almost really the only person in the show who treats our leading lady with dignity and respect.”
Rotten Tomatoes also asked D’Arcy whether or not he was into comic books as a kid. The answer? He was more interested in getting a pair of X-ray glasses from the back!
“I am not, I would say, a big comic book person. I remember reading them as a kid. I remember being really interested predominantly in the things that you could buy at the back. I don’t know if you remember that you used to be able to buy X-ray specs and stuff like that… I believed that they really were X-ray, by the way.”
Of course, D’Arcy is fully up to speed on all things Marvel now. He explained to RT how his version reconciles with later versions of Jarvis in the Marvel Universe movies. To D’Arcy, the biggest difference between his Jarvis and Paul Bettany’s The Vision is that Bettany is essentially playing Tony Stark’s memories of the best version of who Jarivs would be, whereas D’Arcy’s Jarvis exists before Tony was even born.
So, what’s to come in the rest of season one? “Brilliantly, there is resolution across the board for all the characters — and not just in terms of our plots, but in terms of the character work that we have as well, and the social commentary that’s taking place is the baseline below all of this — all of this is resolved within the eight episodes in a really satisfying way.”
Hear the full interview with James D’Arcy from Marvel’s Agent Carter, starting at 24:00.
Here’s what to expect this season, plus a glimpse into life on the set — which includes Twitter high-jinks and some Kansas City baseball.
Matt Atchity for Rotten Tomatoes: Thank you for joining me today.
Hayley Atwell: Of course. I’m just doing my laundry. Excuse me.
RT: Are you kidding? Peggy Carter has to do her own laundry?
HA: Can you believe it? Unbelievable! You think she’d have people around her, but no. Alas, no. I’ve just deflated an air bed and put laundry on.
RT: My first question is that you look like you’re having a lot of fun in this show. Is it as fun as it looks?
HA: Oh my God, it’s more fun than I could possibly ever imagine. I’ve laughed so much on this show, I thought I’d keel over and die. I think it helps that I’ve known James D’Arcy and Dominic Cooper for the last ten years, so them being on set is like, ‘Hi, brothers!’ I’m like a silly teenager when I’m around them. And we keep going,’Oh, we did so much over the last ten years, and we’re more and more immature‘ and I’m like, ‘Yeah! Let’s never grow up!’ We’re going to release a series of tweets called, “Konked-Out Carter,” where we see Peggy in and around set, finding different ways of falling asleep: under desks, on a water cooler, on top of tables, on coat racks, and we’ve just been having a real giggle doing it.
RT: That’s excellent. It sounds like they’re working you pretty hard though.
HA: Oh, yeah. Anything between 15- and 17- hour days. There’s a lot to get done, a lot of dialogue to do; so I’m having to have the stamina that someone like Peggy, in her role, would have. It helps.
RT: Right. And a lot of action. Not just dialogue, but a lot of action too. Does that make it a longer day?
HA: It does! They’re like choreographed dance sequences I have to learn. But my background is that I played rugby in school and I trained in unarmed combat at drama school. So I had a lot of physical work that I did that’s all in my muscle memory. So it’s not as hard as, I think, coming to it from scratch.
RT: So this is really just old hat for you, right?
HA: Yes, yes. Exactly…
RT: I was intrigued: I don’t know what I expected, but I was surprised to see that Peggy’s story really does parallel that of a lot of working women’s post-war experience.
HA: Yeah. You know, she’s been demoted after the war. She’s back making lunch orders, making coffee, finding reports, and she has to struggle without the great backdrop of more tension. And we’ll see how that develops over time, too.
RT: Yeah, and it really doesn’t seem to sit right with her.
HA: No it doesn’t. She has to make the best of her situation. Inside, she’s really pissed, but she also knows that she’s probably smarter than everyone in that room, so she has to humor them.
RT: I expect that we’re going to see plenty more action from Peggy and the rest of the story in the next few episodes, right?
HA: Oh, a hell of a lot of action. You wait; you’re in for a big treat. I can’t believe some of the stuff that I’ve done. I had to walk into DMV the other day, wearing my harness when I was getting my passport renewed, and I was like, ‘This is surreal.’
RT: When you’re in those period costumes and on those period sets, does that help get into the mind-set to be Peggy and act in that world?
HA: It helps with my posture and my physicality and it makes me get ready for the day. Wearing such beautiful clothes, that have been so beautifully handmade and fitted to my exact specifications, and having two hours of hair and make-up, gives me a respect for the crafts of make-up artists and wardrobe department — and also kind of gets Peggy ready for the action.
RT: I’m glad you brought up the costumes specifically, because that fashion is not necessarily conducive to a lot of movement. Do you, does Peggy, have to have a specific fighting style to work within the confines of that?
HA: Yeah. More importantly, it’s not the restrictions of her clothes, but it was more that she doesn’t have any superpowers. So her punches can be a bit messy, it can be a bit dirty; they’re not as slick as, say, someone like Black Widow or Captain America, who make it look very elegant. Peggy gets in there and gets into a bit of a scramble and a scrap.
RT: Yeah, she definitely does. I was surprised — but very amused — to see you take that fork to poor Kevin Heffernan. I mean, he kind of had it coming…
HA: Poor guy. [Laughter]
RT: We see Peggy, at least in this first episode, still kind of mourning over Captain America, the loss of Steve. And then she loses her roommate too. It seems like Peggy’s had to deal with a lot of loss just at the very beginning of this show.
HA: Oh, yeah. And I think grief is something that fuels her. It also means that she can’t get close to people because she’s scared that she’s going to put them in danger and that’s a beautiful kind of character trait, I think. We see her flaws and we see her personal struggles, as well as having to do all these missions and fight all the guys.
RT: When you first started playing Peggy, did you have any concept that Peggy would get her own show eventually?
HA: Oh my God, no way! I was doing the red carpet for the first Captain America movie, and then I went the next day to do a play in London. I still am a jobbing actress. I look for variety in what I do. I do a lot of plays still, and do a lot of different TV dramas. So I didn’t really have any expectations. You never know how the audience is going to respond to characters, and whether or not they want to see her back. So it’s been a huge delight that Marvel has reemployed me.
RT: Right. Now do you feel that there a certain pressure knowing that you’re going to be kind of an icon and a role model to the kids who like comic-book and action heroes?
HA: No, because I think they’re such a lovely bunch of people. They’re very kind and have been very sweet to me. So I’m very confident that we will exceed their expectations and give them more than they could have ever hoped for in the show.
RT: I have to tell you, I really enjoyed the show and, as I mentioned before, it seems like you’re having a lot of fun.
HA: Oh, you just wait until you see the other episodes. They are amazing. It just keeps getting better and better and better.
RT: I was very intrigued to see that things don’t look so great with Howard Stark right off the bat — that he’s kind of been turned into this shadowy figure.
HA: He’s a bit of a douchebag, isn’t he? He’s very unpredictable. And that’s great, because it means that their relationship is going to change and expand and develop over time. And you just wait, there’s something that happens that really shakes the core of her foundation and it’s to do with Howard.
RT: And even just in his flirting, you kind of see, ‘Well, where Tony gets it.’
HA: It’s a great way of developing those characters. And Dominic is wonderful at playing him. There’s a real naughtiness behind his eyes, and there’s a tongue-in-cheek banter between them which I think you’ll really enjoy.
RT: This is a super-fun show. Are you a fan of the kind of the music and the style of that era?
HA: Oh, hugely. I mean, I look up to those icons like Bette Davis and Katherine Hepburn — that kind of golden time of Hollywood. I find it so glamorous, but also these women had great chutzpah and integrity and dignity. So it’s great to be a kind of a step-part of that time.
RT: One of the things I’m curious about is that someone from the UK’s post-war experience is a little bit different, I think, than the Americans’. Does that help add to Peggy’s character and what she’s dealing with as a woman in a man’s world?
HA: It’s something that we haven’t really explored in terms her of being British and being in America. I suppose it’s because I’m half-American myself. I spent my summers in Kansas City, MO, with my family so I don’t see very much of a cultural difference just because I feel half and half. Does that make sense?
RT: Yes. Okay, so I’m going to ask, since you’re from Kansas City, is Gates your favorite barbeque or do you have a better barbeque that you like?
HA: Oh my God, no. It is all about the K.C. barbeque, and it’s all about the Chiefs and the Royals. In fact, we watched the Royals game on set, and we had to stop every time something happened; it was such an amazing game.
RT: Oh yeah? I’m originally from Kansas City myself. It’s great to see a K.C. girl make good!
HA: Absolutely. I hope I’m invited back to turn on the Christmas lights there.
RT: Yes, the Christmas lights at The Plaza are super exciting!
HA: Exactly. Let’s hope maybe this time next year, I’ll be doing that.
RT: That’d be great. Let’s start that Twitter campaign now.
Marvel’s Agent Carter two-hour premiere airs tonight on ABC at 8 p.m. EST.
O.M.G. Can the winter finale of How to Get Away With Murder be topped? Is Marvel’s Agent Carter going to give the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents a run for their money? Will Better Call Saul cook up something satisfying for Jonesing Breaking Bad fans? We don’t know yet, but it won’t be long before some of our favorite TV shows shake things up again. And with a sizable collection of new shows joining the winter roster, who would want to leave the cozy confines of home to pursue more chilly activity outdoors?
Here’s the list of the new and returning shows this winter — plus a look ahead to spring. Keep checking back for updated Tomatometer coverage of your favorite shows — but don’t forget those shows you love to hate!
Thursday, Jan. 1
Lucas Bros. Moving Co. season two premiere, FXX
Stone Quackers series premiere, FXX
Sunday, Jan. 4
Galavant mini-series premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Madam Secretary season one return, 8 p.m., NBC
The Celebrity Apprentice season 14 premiere, 9 p.m., NBC
Downton Abbey season five U.S. premiere, 9 p.m., PBS
The Good Wife season six return, 9 p.m., CBS
Resurrection season two return, 9 p.m., ABC
Monday, Jan. 5
The Bachelor season 19 premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Tuesday, Jan. 6
Marvel’s Agent Carter series premiere, 8 p.m., ABC
Pretty Little Liars season five-B premiere, 8 p.m., ABC Family
Switched at Birth season four premiere, 9 p.m., ABC Family
Cougar Town season six premiere, 10:30 p.m., TBS
Wednesday, Jan. 7
American Idol season 14 premiere, 8 p.m., FOX
Thursday, Jan. 8
Archer season six premiere, 10 p.m., FX
Friday, Jan. 9
Masters of Illusion season two premiere, 8 p.m., CW
Banshee season three premiere, 10 p.m., Cinemax
Comedy Bang! Bang! season four premiere, 11 p.m., IFC
Saturday, Jan. 10
The Missing season one finale, 9 p.m., Starz
Sunday, Jan. 11
Shameless season five premiere, 9 p.m., Showtime
Girls season four premiere, 9 p.m., HBO
Togetherness series premiere, 9:30 p.m., HBO
House of Lies season four premiere, 10 p.m., Showtime
Looking season two premiere, 10 p.m., HBO
Revenge season four return, 10 p.m., ABC
Episodes season four premiere, 10:30 p.m., Showtime
Monday, Jan. 12
Eye Candy series premiere, 10 p.m., MTV
Wednesday, Jan. 14
Melissa & Joey season four premiere, 8 p.m., ABC Family
Baby Daddy season four premiere, 8:30 p.m., ABC Family
Friday, Jan. 16
The Fall season two premiere, 12:01 a.m., Netflix
Constantine season one return, 8:00 p.m., NBC
World’s Funniest Fails series premiere, 8 p.m., FOX
12 Monkeys series premiere, 9 p.m., SyFy
Grimm season four return, 9 p.m., NBC
Helix season two premiere, 10 p.m., SyFy
Saturday, Jan. 17
The Musketeers season two, 9 p.m., BBC America
Sunday, Jan. 18
Grantchester series premiere, 10 p.m., PBS
Tuesday, Jan. 20
Saturday, Jan. 24
Black Sails season two premiere, 9 p.m., Starz
Sunday, Jan. 25
Sons of Liberty mini-series premiere, 9 p.m., History Channel
Tuesday, Jan. 27
Sirens season two premiere, 10 p.m., USA
Thursday, Jan. 29
Grey’s Anatomy season eleven return, 8 p.m., ABC
Sunday, Feb. 1
The Blacklist season two return, Post-Superbowl (regularly airs Thursdays at 9 p.m.), NBC
Thursday, Feb. 5
Allegiance series premiere, 10 p.m., NBC
Sunday, Feb. 8
The Jinx: The Lives and Deaths of Robert Durst docu-mini-series premiere, 8 p.m., HBO
The Walking Dead season five return, 9 p.m., AMC
Better Call Saul series premiere, 10 p.m. (regularly airs Mondays at 10 p.m.), AMC
Wednesday, Feb. 11
Schitt’s Creek series premiere, 10 p.m., TVGN
Thursday, Feb. 12
The Slap mini-series premiere, 8 p.m., NBC
Friday, Feb. 13
Bosch series premiere, Amazon Prime
Tuesday, Feb. 17
Rizzoli & Isles season five return premiere, 9 p.m., TNT
Thursday, Feb. 19
The Odd Couple series premiere, 8:30 p.m., CBS
Friday, Feb. 27
House of Cards season three premiere, 12 a.m., Netflix
Sunday, Mar. 1
Monday, Mar. 2
The Following season three premiere, 8 p.m., FOX
Tuesday, Mar. 3
Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two return, 9 p.m., ABC
Friday, Mar. 6
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt series premiere, Netflix
Monday, Mar. 9
Bates Motel season three premiere, 9 p.m., A&E
The Returned series premiere, 10 p.m., A&E
Tuesday, Mar. 10
Powers series premiere, Playstation Plus
Friday, Mar. 20
Bloodline series premiere, Netflix
Thursday, Mar. 26
Bones season 10 return, 8 p.m., FOX
Thursday, Apr. 2
The Red Road season two premiere, 10 p.m., SundanceTV
Saturday, Apr. 4
Outlander season one return, 9 p.m., Starz
Sunday, Apr. 5
Friday, Apr. 10
Sunday, Apr. 12
Saturday, Apr. 18
Orphan Black season three premiere, 9 p.m., BBC America
Sunday, Apr 26
Happyish series premiere, 9:30 p.m., Showtime
Wednesday, Apr 29
Casual Vacancy mini-series, 8 p.m., HBO
Sunday, May 3
Penny Dreadful season two premiere, 10 p.m., Showtime
Friday, May 8
Grace and Frankie series premiere, Netflix
Thursday, May 14
Wayward Pines series premiere, 9 p.m., FOX
Thursday, May 21
Beauty and the Beast season three premiere, CW
Monday, June 8
Odd Mom Out series premiere, Bravo
Salem season two premiere, April 2015, WGN America