Wednesday: Season 1 Blu-ray Review: Two Snaps Up

The Addams Family empire has quite a streak going. Starting with 150 single-panel comics (mostly published in The New Yorker) as early as 1938; becoming an iconic TV series in the 1960s; then two quality live-action films with The Addams Family and Addams Family Values in the early ’90s; two quality cartoons; and now a spin-off from the 1964 series, Wednesday, which quite aptly weaves an engrossing story around teenager Wednesday Addams.

Buy Wednesday: Season 1 Blu-ray

In the first episode, Wednesday Addams (Jenna Ortega) sees that her younger brother, Pugsley (Isaac Ordonez), is being bullied at school. Wednesday has been having psychic visions and learns through one of them that members of the swim team are behind the attacks on Pugsley. Wednesday’s solution? Fill the school swimming pool with piranhas. The next thing we know, instead of going to jail for attempted murder, Wednesday is sent to the private school, Nevermore Academy, where her parents, Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Gomez (Luis Guzman), met and fell in love when they were teenagers. The school is filled with students who identify as werewolves, sirens, shapeshifters, and all sorts of magical beings.

At Nevermore Academy, Wednesday struggles to fit in for obvious reasons. Luckily, there is a killer loose in the form of a big-eyed beast that stalks the woods, and Wednesday turns out to be an apt sleuth. Wednesday meets a fellow classmate, Xavier (Percy Hynes White), who can make his drawings come to life off the page. She also meets Tyler Galpin (Hunter Doohan), a “normie” who works as a local barista, and whose father is the town Sheriff (Jamie McShane). And, thus, a nice love triangle is born. Is one of these two young gentlemen actually the monster? A homicidal maniac with rage and claws for miles? And which boy will take Wednesday to the school dance?

The season has a great supporting cast with Zeta-Jones, Guzman, and Ordonez absolutely nailing the cartoon versions of Morticia, Gomez, and Pugsley. At the school, Gwendoline Christie plays a shape-shifting headmistress, Larissa Weems, with a long and frustrating past with Morticia. Riki Lindhome plays Dr. Valerie Kinbott, a “normie” psychiatrist with whom Wednesday is forced into very awkward, very funny therapy sessions. Enid Sinclair (Emma Myers) is Wednesday’s werewolf roommate who does her best to keep her sanity in a difficult situation. But there is no doubt that Jenna Ortega, as Wednesday, owns the show. By the time we reach the now-famous scene where Wednesday and Tyler dance to “Goo Goo Muck” by The Cramps, you will feel like a star is being created directly in front of you: Ortega oozes charm.

Wednesday has many allusions to classic horror movies, shows, and stories. An homage to Stephen KIng’s Carrie works particularly well. However, there is a distinct and over-used familiarity with the Harry Potter universe. At one point, a class of young, magical students are surrounded by plants in a magical school castle with the “normies” outside the wall. It is all a bit too familiar. But, in the end, Wednesday is smart, funny, and a great addition to the Addams Family universe.

Eight 50-60 minute episodes make up the series. There are no bonus features included in this two-disc collection.

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Greg Hammond

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