Saturday 3 December 2016

Hayley's a marvel in new comic book series

Published 19/07/2015 | 02:30

Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, which was taken up by RTE2, has been quite good fun, if not exactly essential viewing, and the same could be said for the first instalment of the same franchise's Agent Carter (Fox), though this new show has a couple of extra strikes in its favour.

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Chief among these is the winning presence of Hayley Atwell (below) as its eponymous heroine, former wartime colleague of the presumed dead Captain America but now stuck in a spy agency desk job in the New York of 1946, where she's patronised by sexist colleagues.

However, a Howard Hughes-like friend from her past seeks help in proving that he's not selling arms to enemies of the US and so Peggy springs into covert action.

In the opening episode this entailed a couple of spiffy fight scenes, but the script was pretty nifty, too, especially the badinage between Peggy and her accused friend's English butler, Jarvis, who tells her at the outset that he's available to lend assistance until 9pm.

"What happens at nine?" she asks. "My wife and I go to bed," he replies, before elaborating: "Seven o'clock, sherry. Eight o'clock, Benny Goodman. Nine o'clock, bed".

Peggy herself is prone to such endearing exclamations as "Crikey O'Reilly!", while the period visuals are a delight in themselves. It all looks quite promising.

UnREAL (Sky Living) is intriguing, too, if a lot darker in its comic tone. Here the basic setup is of such reality shows as The Bachelor, in which a rich young man chooses a mate from a gaggle of long-legged wannabe-model hopefuls, but in this satirical drama we're behind the scenes as producers and crew behave abominably while regarding the contestants with unconcealed contempt. There were no outright laughs in the opening episode, which veered dangerously towards the soap-opera cliches it was supposedly satirising, but some of the put-downs were arrestingly nasty. Or as the producer declared: "Romance, love, I don't know - it's all a bunch of crap anyway."

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