Television Reviews

WEDNESDAY: A Macabre Murder Mystery

While at a residential academy for mystical outcasts, the most peculiar Addams will investigate a series of murders that has tainted the family name.  Based on the famous Charles Addams character and aptly titled Wednesday, this new Netflix series takes you on a macabre adventure to solve a wicked mystery. At times predictable and overdone, but entertaining nonetheless.

As the queen of the creepy and kooky, Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) gets into all sorts of situations. But after a near-deadly prank at her very-normal high school gets her into real trouble, parents Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez (Luis Guzmán) enroll her in their alma mater, Nevermore Academy, a school for outsiders and monsters.

Nearby is the town of Jericho, filled with residents who are weary of the academy students. But after a string of animalistic killings strike a new level of fear in the community, their only hope may be the person they’re most apprehensive of, Wednesday.

Created by Smallville co-creators Alfred Gough and Miles MillarWednesday is an original retelling of the character, focusing on her time at the school her parents once excelled. Exploring this type of family dynamic felt interesting, as she’s more of an angsty teen who’s sick of living in their shadow, especially her mother’s. It’s relatable and almost gives her moody trouble-making some realism within all the supernatural.

The most beloved adaption for many, including myself, was The Addams Family (1991) and Addams Family Values (1993), so I was equally excited and nervous about a new incarnation. But I was pleasantly surprised. Though I missed the entire family as the main focus, I enjoyed seeing Wednesday as a firm leading lady. And Ortega does a great job of delivering unsettling humor and being both weird and endearing.

While most of what the series presents has remnants of other works (it gave me major Hogwarts vibes), it excels in its mystery aspects. The school’s history feels rich and intriguing, and the way the plot moves and develops keeps you guessing.

The series does have a couple of hiccups. For a show about otherworldly beings, there didn’t seem to be much thought put into the design of the monsters presented. The CGI misses the mark for the main big bad, and another feels ripped from the 1993 horror-comedy Leprechaun. I would have loved to see better technical effects.

I was also unimpressed by some of the more heavily marketed aspects of the show. Having Christina Ricci, who iconically portrayed Wednesday in the 90s films, was a spectacular idea, plus she’s fantastic in her role. However, in the end, she felt a bit underutilized.

And more prominent was Tim Burton‘s name, though he only directed the first four episodes and executive produced. So it doesn’t fully have his signature style, in my opinion. But I am grateful he brought Colleen Atwood in as costume designer, who he’s collaborated with in films like Edward ScissorhandsSleepy HollowSweeney Todd, and more.

Wednesday is a worthwhile adaptation, and it felt meant to entertain a wider audience without holding back its edginess, unlike some recent teen-focused releases. While the final two episodes felt a little over the place, I’m excited for a second season to see what other secrets Wednesday can uncover.

Wednesday is now streaming on Netflix

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