This was such a strange year for me to be watching TV. One of my very favorite TV shows ended on a high note with another ending sometime soon this year. A lot of my usual TV watching time was either replaced with wrestling or animated TV like Steven Universe, Rick and Morty, Star vs. The Forces of the Evil and BoJack Horseman. I rage quit Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, I didn’t finish this season of Orange is the New Black, a show that I have loved previously in the past, and I still haven’t watched Jessica Jones due to an ongoing dispute my house has been having with Comcast, despite this issue not happening when I was binge-watching Daredevil and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. At least Brooklyn Nine-Nine has been solid as always.
Still, in terms of favorite TV shows, there was a tie for me this year. Surprisingly, both of them from ABC.
The first was Agent Carter, which should surprise no one. Done as an eight episode mini-series, the show profiled Peggy Carter’s life a year after the “death” of Steve Rogers. The series served as a great world builder for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also gave spotlight to a character that could have easily just been background after her appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger. While the show was not without it’s flaws, specifically in the realm of racial diversity, the show did a good job at putting Peggy Carter into a place usually occupied by an angsty muscular white dude. I saw someone point out that in this case, Steve was literally the man in the fridge for Peggy.Still, it never felt like Steve was the only motivating factor for the things Peggy did though. He was certainly a big one, but it also became about throwing herself back out into the world, trying to regain some of the respect she had been given during the war, and learning to let people in. Hayley Atwell shines in every way as Peggy that it’s no surprise that the Most Electrifying Man in Showbusiness has a crush on her.
Plus, it was just fun. This was the first time Marvel television felt like it clicked all the way and that was probably because the story really did seem to play out like a comic book arc. They had a limited time to tell the story (ten episodes), so they couldn’t waste time in b-plots. Each episode moved the action and character development along, with plenty of twists along the way. I don’t think I will ever get over the big reveal about just who Dottie was. Of course, Angie Martinelli was the best character and the fact she will only be in a dream sequence for season two is a tragedy.
The other show is still fun, but is the exact opposite of so many show on this list. I picked up recapping at Galavant at Nerdophiles because I heard it was a musical TV show. Musicals are up my alley, so I figured it would be a quick and sugary show that would be some typical Disney-esque fare. C’mon, the music was written by Alan Menken.However, from the moment one of the ensemble members said the word ‘cajones’ in the first minute of the pilot, I knew it was going to be very different from what I expected. First off, Galavant is bawdy as hell. It’s not crass, but the show doesn’t shy away from making jokes about sex and drugs. I think by the end of that first musical number, I was blushing and laughing in equal measure.
Most of the comedy of Galavant depends on a character struggling to get his life together after he loses his happily ever after to his one true love. It would be easy to go the typical ridiculous fairy tale route about a knight trying to win a princess, but it eschews that in the opening minutes. Instead, it becomes a story about a man finding himself again through heroics, hesitant musical numbers, and falling in love with someone who actually cares about him.
Of course, the cast is just fabulous. Joshua Sasse and Karen David are absolutely electric as Galavant and Princess Isabella and Timothy Odmundson is hilarious as the inept and weirdly sweet King Richard, but the true show stealer is Mallory Jansen as Madalena, Galavant’s first love who’s “slightly bitchward” progression into straight up villainy is a joy to behold.Both shows serve different kinds of audiences, but they’re both great examples of how to do that well. Agent Carter shows how you can do a superhero spy show without being overly grimdark and Galavant a musical comedy for episodic television. And luckily for all of us, we don’t have to wait much longer for these shows to return. Galavant (who’s entire first season is available for free on iTunes right now) returns on January 3rd for a five week run of its second season and Agent Carter returns on January 19th.