Parts of this have been in my drafts for about a year just as notes. And yes, I am aware that I’m about 3 years behind on this series since it aired in January 2017.
Firstly, I love all the actors. Whoever hired Patrick Warburton as the narrator and Joan Cusack as the judge needs a goddamn raise. I was really impressed at how easily immersed in the story world it is to get with how committed the actors are to their roles.
I love the sets too. Everything is just so well put together and generally pleasing and aesthetic. All the vast differences in colour schemes between locations too is great, and how wardrobes tie in so well to their respective character. This whole thing kind of has a Wes Anderson vibe to it and I appreciate that.
The storyline so far is interesting, and I haven’t read the book (or is it books?) so I am completely in the dark about what’s happening and what to expect. But there’s definitely something going on here and I’m keen to find out what.
And I like that they explain what words mean. It’s a thing that happens and considering the series has a PG rating and its target audience is children, I think it’s a good move. The show assumes children are intelligent and they are. I watched this episode with one of my younger sisters (aged 12 at the time) and I could see her about to ask me what a word meant and then when it got explained, she was really impressed by the show. She was also really happy while watching when she realised that it was setting up a more complicated narrative than she was used to being allowed to watch.
It’s exciting to see, especially since after watching the first episode she started seeking out other PG rated shows that had this type of narrative complexity she wanted. We were all very sheltered as children (okay, maybe I did a sneaky by letting her watch this episode with me) and the most ‘inappropriate’ things we could watch were DC PG series like Young Justice (trust me, I know it doesn’t make sense. But neither does barring an 18-year-old from watching The Hunger Games at 11pm on a low, considerate volume on a Wednesday night when all my siblings and Mum are already asleep. But Mum was banned from watching Neighbours and Home and Away when I was 3 months old despite her reassurances that there was no way a 3-month-old understood what was going on in a soap drama so what chance did I have). My sister’s never been interested in superheroes at all though and really only watched these types of shows with us because she really didn’t want to watch her alternative of… well, not much. She’s an avid reader though and most content she consumes is via books she borrows from the library or asks Mum to get her.
It was around this time too that she had started watching Avatar: The Last Airbender and I think these two shows just opened up a new type of world for her. Since then she’s found shows like Voltron: Legendary Defender and The Dragon Prince to watch on the TV (probably helps that my older-younger sister [which I say like she’s not a few months off of 17] and I watch them) and things like My Hero Academia to privately watch. I know she finished A Series of Unfortunate Events too since she didn’t realise one day that I was home while she was sick and panicked paused on one of the final episodes when I walked into mum’s room to find nail polish remover. It makes me happy to see her finding TV series which she enjoys. It makes me happy that this series was one of her gateways to finding more things she likes.
But now, I’ve been rambling too much. The episode is over and this leads us to…
Boy, do I love the story world building in this episode. The sets are perfect, the costumes are perfect and the shots are great. All the little knick-knacks and props set up too are so detailed and coherent
It’s an entertaining episode. I enjoyed the theatre troupe and how Sunny’s dialogue is accompanied by subtitles. They had some good lines. Watching a villain struggle to keep their plan together and come up with ideas on the fly is also always entertaining to me.
The CGI? Doll hands? are kind of dodgy in parts like where Sunny is dealing cards, which watching a baby win poker and save herself is good enough content for me to get over it.
The series’ humour is fairly snarky which I appreciate. I certainly wasn’t expecting anyone to say, “Dear God, why would anyone listen to a consultant” or, “Let me give you some advice. If you keep using such big words so early in the morning, then you’re going to end up a very lonely man.”
The storyline got way darker way quicker than I was expecting though, especially with the marriage plot. And Gustav getting tranquilised and falling into a pool to die – that’s some End of the Fucking World type shit right there. The judge not getting the kids? That’s the most heartbreaking thing. Why do we have to crush the poor woman’s dreams like that? I can only handle so much. The journalist’s wife too just straight up getting excited when something goes wrong and because she’s getting a scoop is way too funny to me as a media student. And her tricking the kids into saying something to then quote them is way is such a dodgy magazine tactic.
This series, at least from the first episodes, is great. The story world is well developed, the characters are interesting and the narrative they’ve begun is definitely mysterious and appealing. For full appreciation, I would recommend watching on a larger screen than a phone – the sets are quite detailed.