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TV Review - Netflix's Wednesday

A woefully weird presentation.

Wednesday is a 2022 supernatural fantasy horror mystery comedy series directed by Tim Burton, Gandja Monteiro, and James Marshall, created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, produced by Millar Gough Ink, 1.21 Films, Glickmania Media, Tee and Charles Addams Foundation, The Jackal Group, Tim Burton Productions, Toluca Productions, and MGM Television, and distributed by Netflix Streaming Services. The show is based off of the 1964 TV series, The Addams Family. It stars Jenna Ortega and Hunter Doohan. This is the tenth film or TV adaptation of The Addams Family, being the fifth TV series. It was preceded by The New Addams Family and The Addams Family 2.


"I know the suspense is killing you." - Wednesday Addams

Plot


After being expelled from her current high school, Wednesday Addams is taken to Nevermore Academy, a boarding school for outcasts like herself. As Wednesday acquaints herself amongst her peers, a deadly mystery begins to plague the school and the town surrounding it. Now, it's up to Wednesday to solve the case before it's too late.


The Sweet


Absolutely the best thing about Wednesday is Jenna Ortega. Ortega has had one hell of a year. She started off in January by starring in Scream. Then, she got more recognition for her role in X. And, now, she has solidified herself as a bona fide star with her performance as the titular role in Wednesday. She is fantastic. She is really good at deadpan comedy while also being able to communicate Wednesday's thoughts and feelings through the tiniest of facial expressions. She spends most of the show with a serious look on her face, but she'll change that serious look ever so often so that you understand Wednesday's minimal emotion. She's absolutely incredible, and I cannot wait to see more of her in the future.


Beyond that, Wednesday's character here is just amazing. She's an extremely strange person that would come off as insufferable on paper, but the way she's crafted in this show, she's incredibly likable. She also has kind of a complex character. The way she interacts with people matters. It gives her space to grow and change. She manages to keep the same devil-may-care attitude throughout the show while clearly growing and having a great character arc. They examine her through the lens of her interactions with the people surrounding her, and it really, really works. And they never go too far, either. Every time it seems like she's about to get too emotional or act too out of character, she doesn't. It was a fine line they balanced, and it made for one of my favorite TV characters of recent memory.


Wednesday also has a fun concept at the core, because it's a little bit like Harry Potter mixed with the Addams Family. The whole show takes place at a "school for outcasts" which is very reminiscent of Hogwarts. And that's fun. It has the quirky, dark humor of the Addams Family while also having the sweeping fantasy of Harry Potter. I've never really watched any of the Addams Family, but Harry Potter is one of my favorite things ever, so as an introduction into the Addams's world, this felt very entertaining for me personally.


Because we are essentially in Hogwarts for the Addams Family, we get a ton of quirky and fun side characters. The standout here is Enid Sinclair, Wednesday's roommate. Played to perfection by Emma Myers, Enid is basically the polar opposite of Wednesday, which just makes for some really fun moments and interactions between the two of them. If we get a second season (fingers crossed), I cannot wait to see more of these two.


One thing that actually really impressed me was the usage of the Addams Family itself. Obviously, Wednesday is the main character, but the other Addams members make an appearance. Thing is a very prominent character throughout. He's awesome. They use Gomez as a big plot point inside of the story. They use Morticia as a huge part of Wednesday's arc. I found that mother-daughter dynamic to be very compelling. And Uncle Fester even gets a guest appearance. They were absolutely used in moderation, but the Addams Family served as a really fun little addition to Wednesday.


Finally, I actually thought the mystery here was intriguing. They have a lot of plot points that don't seem connected at all, but they eventually bring them all together to create a logical answer to what's been going on at this school. It makes the writing feel well-thought out and smart. The mystery was intriguing and the payoff was satisfying. It's always a good thing when the finale is the best episode in the show, and that's the case with Wednesday.


The Sour


Wednesday is very fun, but it isn't perfect.


The first thing is that it can get very soap opera-y at times. A lot of critics have compared it to other Netflix or CW mystery-dramas like Riverdale or The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. And that's accurate. The dialogue and acting is very reminiscent of shows like that. Part of that is the creators of the show, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, are best known for Smallville, which is a CW show. I really dug Smallville, but it's not the level of quality that Stranger Things or even Cobra Kai are. And, while I still think Wednesday is a little better than most CW shows, it does feel like Smallville or Riverdale at times.


I know I said earlier that we get a ton of fun and quirky side characters. That's true, but we also get some really terrible side characters here. We have a bit of a love triangle going on with Wednesday where there are two guys here that clearly like her...and I didn't think either of these guys were good characters. One of them (Xavier) would just always complain and get annoyed at Wednesday. And the other (Tyler) was a horrific actor that was too obsessed with Wednesday. There's also a school bully and some other side characters that just felt forced. The acting was not quite there and the writing didn't allow enough space for them to be interesting or likable.


And this is just a quick thing: the CGI here is awful. There's a monster in the show that pops up quite often, and it looks atrocious. Even beyond the CGI, the design of the character just looks goofy. It's not scary or intimidating like it's meant to be, and it really pulled me out of the show whenever it was on screen.


While I do love the finale of this show, there are some things that remain unsatisfying. First off, the twists and turns are pretty predictable. By episode five or six, I was pretty sure who our main villain was, and I was correct. I don't think that that really takes away from the show too much, because part of a mystery is you guessing who the culprit is, but this one was pretty obvious.


Secondly, there are definitely some plot threads that are left dangling. The first episode of the show ends with a murder. One of the characters we are introduced to is killed right off the bat...and they never really explain why. By the time the villain is revealed, it seems like we've forgotten about the initial murder. There are things like that and little plot points that don't make sense. If you stop and think about it for a second, there's a lot of gaps in logic, which does make me like the show a little less than I did right after the finale was over.


Final Thoughts and Score


Wednesday is a fun addition to the Addams Family canon. A fantastic performance from Jenna Ortega highlights a wonky season full of mystery and fun. It's not great, but it is really entertaining, and my fingers are crossed for a second season.


I will go Savory here. Age range is 9+.


SWEET N' SOUR SCALE

Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)


"Wednesday"


Fun Factor: 9.5/10

Acting: 8/10

Story: 8/10

Characters: 7.5/10

Quality: 7.5/10


Created by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar


Rated TV-14 for moderate bloody violence, frightening themes and images, language, suggestive material, thematic elements


Released on November 23, 2022


Episode runtime: 50 minutes


Jenna Ortega as Wednesday Addams

Hunter Doohan as Tyler Galpin

Gwendoline Christie as Principal Larissa Weems

Emma Myers as Enid Sinclair

Percy Hynes White as Xavier Thorpe

Joy Sunday as Bianca Barclay

Jamie McShane as Sheriff Donovan Galpin

Riki Lindhome as Dr. Valerie Kinbott

Christina Ricci as Marilyn Thornhill

Moosa Mostafa as Eugene Otinger

Georgie Farmer as Ajax Petropolus

Victor Dorobantu as Thing T. Thing

Naomi J. Ogawa as Yoko Tanaka

Iman Marson as Lucas Walker

Calum Ross as Rowen Laslow

Tommie Earl Jenkins as Mayor Noble Walker

Luis Guzmán as Gomez Addams

Catherine Zeta-Jones as Morticia Addams

Isaac Ordonez as Pugsley Addams

Fred Armisen as Fester Addams

George Burcea as Lurch

William Houston as Joseph Crackstone

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