‘Wednesday’ on Netflix is the ‘Addams Family’ spinoff we’ve been waiting for.

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'Wednesday' on Netflix is the 'Addams Family' spinoff we've been waiting for.
'Wednesday' on Netflix is the 'Addams Family' spinoff we've been waiting for.

‘Wednesday’ on Netflix is the ‘Addams Family’ spinoff we’ve been waiting for.

She’s weird (but not wacky), mysterious, and eerie. She’s the Addams family’s dead-eyed, morbid daughter. In Tim Burton’s cheerily macabre Netflix series “Wednesday,” she’s now off to boarding school.

The eight-part series, which premieres Wednesday and is directed by Tim Burton a

'Wednesday' on Netflix is the 'Addams Family' spinoff we've been waiting for.
‘Wednesday’ on Netflix is the ‘Addams Family’ spinoff we’ve been waiting for.

nd written by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, has caskets full of fun when daddy’s “little viper,” Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega), is expelled from Nancy Reagan High, her ninth school in five years. She only did one thing: she released piranhas into a pool full of jocks who had harassed her younger brother, Pugsley.

 

Her mother, Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and father, Gomez (Luis Guzmán), also attended Nevermore Academy. Its curriculum is tailored to outcasts, creeps, and monsters, and the student body is populated by vampires, werewolves, and sirens. Even they are alarmed by Wednesday’s cadaver-white skin and all-black outfit. “Wednesday always looks half-dead,” Gomez says. “Please excuse me on Wednesday.” “She’s allergic to colour,” Morticia says. Principal Weems (Gwendoline Christie) of the school had no intention of taking it easy on Wednesday.

Ortega steals the show as the brilliant, cynical teen who’d rather hang out in a cemetery than a club. Wednesday is embodied by her flat affectation and blatant contempt for her classmates. Her spasmodic, zombie-like motions at the school dance to the tune of the Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck,” performed with a deadly straight face, create one of the year’s best television moments.

The nasty, courageous protagonist is full of beautifully caustic one-liners. “They come on without suddenly and feel like electroshock therapy, but without the delightful afterburn,” mommy’s tiny storm cloud says of her visions. She doesn’t have an Instagram or TikTok account because she considers it “a soul-sucking wasteland of worthless affirmation.” And when her horrifically cheerful new roommate Enid (Emma Myers) takes her on a tour of the school’s social scene, Wednesday expresses her disdain for “tribal adolescent tropes.” (By the end of the series, you will adore Myers’ acting and character.) When a mystery entity with ties to the school begins killing, Wednesday puts her inherent scepticism of humanity to use.

when a mysterious entity with ties to the institution begins murdering students and residents. She uses her talents of deduction — and the occasional torture session — to solve the mystery, much like a gothic Nancy Drew.

 

Ms. Thornhill, the academy’s one “normie” teacher, is played by Christina Ricci, who played Wednesday in the 1991 film “The Addams Family” and its 1993 sequel, “Addams Family Values.” She lacks the other characters’ shifting abilities and talents. Her enthusiasm for teaching botany is what drew her to the school. But why is she there in the first place? In this streaming edition of the franchise, gimmicky references to the films and the 1964 TV series are infrequent and judiciously employed. Two finger snaps open the door to a secret society’s hideaway, and Lurch’s catchphrase, “You rang?,” appears only once and with great timing.

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Thing, the disembodied hand who had been bound in previous “Addams Family” movies, may now wander around freely thanks to the wonders of CGI. It’s the Watson to Wednesday’s Sherlock, and Thing’s reactions of shame, alarm, and dejection are powerful.

 When Wednesday discovers Thing hidden in her dorm room on the first day of school, she interrogates it. “Didn’t Mother and Father send you to spy on me?” He wags a digit to indicate “no.” “I’m not afraid to shatter a few fingers,” she warns. The thing trembles before rapidly explaining in sign language that it’s there for her own good. “Oh, Thing, you poor, naive appendage,” she sneers.

Burton’s sensibility and flair are all throughout this delightfully quirky, sarcastic whodunit. Nevermore Academy is a magnificently ghoulish location, complete with gargoyles and spires, while the small mediaeval hamlet of Jericho outside attracts tourists in with a kitschy re-creation of a Pilgrim settlement. Burton’s playground consists of witch-burning artefacts and kitsch fudge vendors.

 

There’s always a risk when meddling with a cherished pop cultural institution like “The Addams Family,” but “Wednesday” is great on every level. Its namesake doesn’t have to worry about her reputation being tarnished.

sources:Wednesday Recap: Let the Games Begin

 

 

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