PHS Editor and Harlequin Historical author Michelle Styles compares Agent Carter and Partners in Crime
At the moment in the UK, there are two espionage programmes set in the late 40’s/ early 50’s being shown. You wait for one, and two ended up being shown. As luck would have it they are both on a Sunday evening at the same time. Thank goodness for the ability to download programmes. The late 40's/early 50s are an under-utilized period. The Cold War was kicking off. Refugees were still being resettled. Lots of things going on.
Partners In Crime is a BBC adaption of Agatha Cristie’s Tommy and Tuppence novels – updated to the 1950s (they were originally set in the 1920s). I will admit to having a soft spot for Tommy and Tuppence, mainly because of Tuppence. It stars Jessica Raine from Call the Midwife and Wolf Hall and the comedian David Williams. It is very stylish. I love Tupppence’s hats. It is enjoyable Sunday night viewing, except the scenes go on too long. It is as if they are padded out. There are too many long shots and nothing much happens. My other quibble is that no one on the production team seem to know anything about beekeeping. For example, at the start, Tommy is bring back a valuable Queen bee from France. Fair enough. Except he has her alone in a jar with no bee candy and no escorts. Having bought Queens through the post, Queen always travel with a retinue. They die other wise. Similarly , later in the programme, the beehives are disturbed. Tommy starts going through them without any gear on. I was left wondering – where did all the bees go? If you go rooting through a oolony in that fashion, the most likely outcome is being badly stung.
There were also plot holes so wide even my father-in-law was left scratching his head. Tommy and Tuppence get stranded. Tuppence mentions she has no money. . Tommy says he doesn’t have his wallet, but then they take the train back home. How? \
Still it is enjoyable Sunday night fodder and it did retain some of the elements of Agatha Christie’s original.
Agent Carter is a Marvel production and is being shown on Fox in the UK. It features Peggy Carter from Captain America (Hayley Atwell) who is now working for the SSR in New York City as the sole female agent. Howard Stark enlists her to help find his stolen weapons. Everyone believes he is guilty but Peggy is positive he is innocent. He teams her up with his straight laced butler Edwin Jarvis (James D'Arcy). Cue lots of fun and games and a wry look at sexism in the late 1940’s. It is well written and with a good deal of pace. There are a few moments of needing to suspend disbelief but on the whole, a credible world is created and maintained. The stakes are clear. There are a few weak moments, particularly when Howard Stark is in the scene as he tends to be the weakest characterization. But on the whole, it is well acted and with solid writing set in an often over-looked time period. They seem to understand that you can kill suspense, if you carry it for too long without anything happening.
So does anyone else like these two shows?
Michelle Styles writes warm, witty and intimate historical romance in a wide range of time periods. Her most recent Summer of the Viking was published in June 2015. You can read more about Michelle and her book on www.michellestyles.co.uk