While ABC drags their feet on Agent Carter, that potential show centered around Captain America’s ex-girlfriend Peggy (Hayley Atwell) a potential salvation has come in the form of one the buzziest of current Hollywood buzzphrases: limited series.
The last time we saw Peggy Carter was in the Marvel One-Shot Agent Carter on the Iron Man 3 Blu-Ray. Set after the events of Captain America, we found her sad that Steve Rogers is gone (since she has no idea he’s actually still alive but frozen in a block of ice), but more annoyed with the systemic sexism which would see her – a trained field agent – live out the rest of her days as a desk clerk. So, she gets to it, and kicks some literal ass while still finding time to check her make-up:
Sign us up. That could make for a fun TV show. ABC might agree. In January, ABC Entertainment Group President Paul Lee officially confirmed a TV show version of Agent Carter was in development, and that they had a script they liked from Captain America‘s Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely. Furthermore, Reaper creators and current showrunners of Resurrection Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas are on board to run Agent Carter, with Atwell reprising the titular role.
Unfortunately, there has been precious little news on the Agent Carter front since then. ABC currently has two high-profile shows (Agents of Shield, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland) whose existence is owed entirely to corporate synergy with Disney. SHIELD delivers better ratings than what ABC aired in the same time slot last season, but it is not a cheap show to produce and has lost nearly half of its Nielsen-captured viewership since the pilot. …Wonderland is watched by around half as many people who view its parent show, Once Upon a Time. So, ABC may be reluctant to go with another Disney-controlled property.
Now, while promoting Captain America: The Winter Soldier screenwriters Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely dished about their plans for Agent Carter, making sure to use Hollywood’s favorite TV obsession: the “limited series”:
- The show would start in 1946, sort of in the middle of the timeline of the One Shot. McFeely said, “We can’t get her to the end of S.H.I.E.L.D. that fast. We wanna stay in that world longer where people are disrespecting her and she’s proving herself and going on missions and things like that.”
- Unlike most network shows that are 22 or 23-episode seasons, Markus and McFeely think Agent Carter should be a limited series with a maximum of 13 episodes per season. McFeely said, “[13 episodes] is how this is envisioned, maybe even less… That’s my hope, is that it would be something like [Under the Dome]. Our case would be that it would be a limited series and you would wrap up that one bad guy and that one case, and then if you like it we’ll do it again next year and it’s 1947.”
- Howard Stark (aka, Tony Stark’s dad) would be a recurring character, not a series regular. This is assuming Dominic Cooper would be willing to continue to play the role. I’ve spoken to him about this and he seemed very interested. But this was a few months ago and things change.
“Limited Series” officially has no real meaning at this point. Because of what has happened with Under the Dome, we must now take a Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again” approach to all future limited series or event programming or whatever the specific network calls it. We think we’re tuning into to see a self-contained story with a set end-point, and the fact that it will have an apparent limited run makes it feel all the more important and immediate. So, it’s almost refreshing to see Markus and McFeely acknowledge that they don’t mean for Agent Carter to be event programming limited to one season but instead done in cable series-size installments (i.e., 13 episodes or fewer) with a lifespan which will ultimately be dictated by whether or not viewers want to see further seasons.
We’ve already argued elsewhere on the site for the superiority of a 13 episode season for certain projects instead of a more traditional 22-24 episode season. However, it doesn’t always work out. Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is also technically a limited series with a mere 13 episode order, and designed for the story to conclude naturally if not renewed for an additional season. Plus, CBS’ Hostages from the current season was a limited series which failed to truly take off. The jury is still out on newbies like Crisis, Resurrection, and Believe, which all have limited run first seasons.
Agent Carter could give us in Peggy Carter a spiritual successor to the likes of prior TV female heroines like Buffy Summers, and it would seem to offer appeal for female viewers, a demographic typically coveted by ABC. However, it would face similar challenges as Agents of SHIELD. Plus, as a period piece it wouldn’t likely be cheap to produce, which would be another benefit of doing it in limited runs. However, until ABC actually offers a green light it’s all academic.
What do to think about a potential Agent Carter TV show? Let us know in the comments.