‘Wednesday’ Review: Addams Family TV Show on Netflix, Season 1
It’s a little late for Halloween, but Netflix’s new spin on that Addams family Franchise, Wednesdayis still a welcome sight. Armed with the support of Tim Burton and a killer trailer, Wednesday – premiering, when else, next Wednesday, November 23 on the streamer – looks like a worthy addition to the classic creepy family. But based on the four episodes I’ve seen, a potentially fun spinoff has been given Riverdale treatment, pushing the Addams family characters into a supernatural teen drama that would be more at home on The CW or Freeform. It has a really macabre tone and a fantastic lead performance by Jenna Ortega, but the decision to go full YA I’m afraid could have been a fatal mistake.
When we meet Wednesday Addams, played here by Ortega, she’s a student at squeaky-clean Nancy Reagan High School… and no, she doesn’t fit in there. (To get revenge on some water polo bats, she drops some piranhas into the school’s pool.) So Wednesday is sent to Nevermore Academy, a private school for outcasts that her parents Gomez and Morticia once attended. The new school is full of supernatural freaks, from werewolves and vampires to sirens and gorgons – but somehow Wednesday still stands out as a morbid, death-obsessed madman. However, the school has many mysteries hidden within its walls, starting with the mysterious killer in the forest who rips unfortunate victims to pieces.
Wednesday has a sharp bite and captures the gothic charm of the Addams family movies. Great as Wednesday, Ortega comes close to Christina Ricci’s dead perfection with her deliciously dark one-liners. (“Sartre said hell is different people. He was my first crush.”) Catherine Zeta-Jones is also exquisitely cast as Morticia, but Luis Guzman doesn’t really work as Gomez — and it doesn’t matter that much anyway, because the rest of the Addams family is limited to mere cameos, with the exception of the disembodied Handding. This is Wednesday’s show, and the rest of the characters don’t quite keep up, although Gwendoline Christie (game of Thrones) clearly understands the assignment as the intrusive Headmaster Weems. Ricci herself appears as dorm mom Marilyn Thornhill, which is a nice bit of stunt casting, but she’s not given much to do.
The tone and visual style of Wednesday are absolutely on point, with Burton – who serves as executive producer and directs the pilot – bringing his trademark creepy glee to the project. But the storytelling of Alfred Gough and Miles Millar (Kleinville) clearly lags behind. The plot is cluttered and chaotic, with mysteries piled on top of mysteries. We plan on Wednesday escaping the school, plus her newfound psychic visions, plus the aforementioned mutilated corpses, plus several interchangeable limp-haired love interests, plus Weems’ weird grudge against Morticia… it borders on overkill, so wonderful this one word may sound to Wednesday. (She also has kind of superhuman combat abilities, which…OK.) Also, the show is trying to bring a depth to the character of Wednesday Addams…which I’m not sure we want? She’s perfect as a supporting character with pithy punch lines, but she’s missing as a main character with an emotional arc. (Wednesday Addams and emotions don’t mix.)
In its structure and tone, Wednesday is actually the closest thing to another Netflix drama, the late Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, but lacks the dark magic of this show. Ortega is really great as Wednesday — she’s a star in the making — but the show slows to a crawl when she’s off-screen. In the end it feels less like a Addams family Show as another disappointingly familiar YA murder mystery trying to piggyback on well-known intellectual property. Worst thing I can say Wednesday is that Wednesday Addams himself would probably hate it.
THE TVLINE COMPANY: Netflix Wednesday has a creepy tone and an excellent lead, but the story is strictly a cookie cutter mystery.
https://tvline.com/2022/11/18/wednesday-review-netflix-addams-family-tv-show/ ‘Wednesday’ Review: Addams Family TV Show on Netflix, Season 1