Tim Burton’s Addams Family Show is a Mixed Bag
Dust off the cobwebs, the Addams Family is back.
The latest rendition is the new Netflix series “Wednesday,” a teen comedy-drama with episodes directed by Tim Burton.
Premiering Nov. 23, it’s a supernatural mystery about Wednesday Addams’ time as a student at boarding school Nevermore Academy, where his parents met and fell in love.
In this institution for “outcasts, freaks, and freaks,” cynical goth girl Wednesday (Jenna Ortega, “Jane the Virgin”) tries to control her burgeoning psychic abilities; navigate relationships with classmates and tensions between school and local town; take care of her cheerful roommate Enid (Emma Myers); and solve a mystery his parents were involved in two decades ago.
Oh, and there’s also a monster.
His classmates include queen bee Bianca (Joy Sunday) and sensitive boy Xavier (Percy Hynes White) – but as a twist, many of them are werewolves, vampires and mermaids.
Rounding out the cast are Catherine Zeta-Jones as matriarch Morticia Addams, Luis Guzman as Gomez, and Fred Armisen as Uncle Fester. Gwendoline Christie (“Game of Thrones”) stars as school principal Larissa Weems, who was Morticia’s roommate years ago.
To top it off, Christina Ricci (who starred in 1991’s “The Addams Family” and 1993’s “Addams Family Values” on Wednesday) plays Marilyn Thornhill, the “dorm mom” who checks on the students.
The Addams Family has been the subject of a multitude of media for decades, including comic books, other television shows (such as a live-action series in 1964 and an animated series in 1973), and movies. 90s, which also starred Anjelica Huston.
The biggest shocker of this eight-episode series is that this is Burton’s first stab in the franchise. His fingerprints are all over “Wednesday,” which is rife with his signature blend of the whimsical, the weird, and the macabre.
While this show’s existence seems redundant, if “Star Wars” and the MCU manage to spin off countless tertiary characters, why not have “Wednesday” join the fray?
That said, the show is a mixed bag. While Wednesday is a fun supporting character in previous Addams Family stories and Ortega plays her with deadpan charm, she’s not the most compelling protagonist.
It becomes tedious to watch someone constantly laugh at everything. And some of the dialogue feels like the show is trying too hard, like Wednesday saying, “I find social media to be a void of meaningless assertion.” (The show’s creators, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, are “Smallville” alumni.)
But the side characters and the world are fun, and it could usher in a new generation of fans who may not have watched previous versions of “The Addams Family,” but want a show in the same vein as the most recent “The Addams Family”. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina.
Audiences craving a complete look at the family might be disappointed, as this show focuses on its main character, with Morticia and Gomez on the sidelines. They do get some chewy landscape moments, though, with Morticia breathlessly commenting, “At least it’s a beautiful day” during a thunderstorm.
“Wednesday” doesn’t have much to offer viewers who aren’t interested in the high school antics that other shows have done better. But it’s still a treat for those who wondered what Burton’s version of this world might look like.