Wednesday Addams Isn’t a Hugger, He’s Allergic to Color, and Gets Kicked Out of Nancy Reagan High in New Netflix Comedy, Aptly Titled Wednesday.
Jenna OrtegaJane the Virgin, Stuck in the Middle, The Fallout) landed the lead role in the new 8-part series, half of which is directed by visionary Tim Burton.
While feature films, sitcoms and musicals have been steered by macabre parents Gomez & Morticia, here the focus shifts to a teenage fantasy with lashings of gothic, supernatural and silly humor.
None other than Catherine Zeta-Jones takes on the role of Morticia, the constant bad apple of Gomez’s (Luis Guzmán) eyes, but they are largely supporting the players in this new version, based at the Nevermore Academy. This school for outcasts is a real Monster High, with teen vampires, werewolves, mermaids and more.
The school principal Larissa Weems is the imposing Gwendoline Christie, who enjoys her control from behind her desk and is more than irritated when she is unaware of all the school gossip. Mrs. Weems was also a classmate of Morticia’s many full moons ago, and she oversees compulsory therapy Wednesday he has to engage with Dr. Valerie Kinbott (Riki Lindhome) on a regular basis.
It doesn’t matter how much Wednesday protesting his new school and housing with Enid (Emma Myers), the colorful, teenage werewolf, resistance is futile. Although the daughter may have a strained relationship with her mother, her father assigns the Bodiless Thing to maintain a
eye finger on her.
However, while our pale-faced anti-hero grins at everything he encounters, he is also subject to sudden visions that manifest themselves in the most deliciously lurid way, in the form of psychic premonitions. Comparing them to electroshock therapy, these are also one of the coolest attributes about him.
At Nevermore Academy Wednesday he doesn’t make friends easily, and Burton delivers all kinds of spooky backyard theater the production designers have gone wild for, set to music by Danny Elfman.
It’s only when she meets local teenage bartender Tyler (Hunter Doohan) that she makes a friend, who just happens to be the son of the local sheriff (Jamie McShane).
This whole set-up is spooky fun but it needs a storyline to drive its hour-long episodic runtime. This comes in the form of a dark backstory surrounding her parents and a local monster killing citizens in the woods which in turn turns Wednesday into a teenage detective.
Self Riverdale turned the Archie Comics into a horror crime then Wednesday likewise it rotates in a sort of San Triniani with a demonic side.
Jenna Ortega is suitably deadpan behind her cold exterior (brother Pugsley and Lurch are mere cameos in early episodes) and Gwendoline Christie is worlds apart game of Thrones action role. There is a nice nod to the past with Christina Ricci, having played the role in a feature film Wednesday now as teacher Miss Thornhill.
Yet somehow it doesn’t seem like it’s pushing beyond a teenage audience, which is a bit surprising. Perhaps later episodes will draw more on the delights of Catherine Zeta-Jones and Luis Guzmán, along with Fred Armisen appearing as Uncle Fester.
That said, there’s a lot of visual pleasure from Burton to keep the color and movement moving.
Wednesday airs Wednesday on Netflix.