I am excited about this week’s streaming pick. I haven’t gotten hooked on a show this fast, this deep, in a long time. The Umbrella Academy is a Netflix original series based on the Dark Horse comic book by the same name.
On the same day, at the same time, 43 children were born in 1989. Even stranger, none of the women who gave birth knew they were pregnant when they got up that morning. Eccentric billionaire, Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) became obsessed with the children. He traveled the world trying to adopt as many as he could. Seven children were adopted. Hargreeves raised these children more as a unit than a family. He found they each possessed mysterious abilities. His plan was to mold the kids into a superhero unit that could, one day, save the world. Circumstance and time took its toll on the kids.
Reginald was not an easy man to live under. The family fractured when the siblings hit their teenage years. The show picks up with the event of Reginald’s death. The occasion brings the surviving Hargreeves back home.
The set up of the series is fantastic. Establishing this alternate superhero world happens with surgical precision. Nothing is missing. Nothing gets taken too far. The tone is set. It’s clear you’re in for an action/drama blended with comedy. Something that I generally don’t register is the soundtrack. Umbrella Academy has one that kicks as much ass as the superhero unit found within. This ia all clear before the first episode is half over.
Without turning this write up into a list of names I’ll simplify things and just say the cast it outstanding. The entire cast; not just the main players. The only recognizable name is Ellen Paige who does a good but may be the weakest part of it. Maybe it’s because she’s so familiar. It seems Paige, who showed so much promise, does the sad outsider thing more often than not lately. A couple other faces were recognizable but I had to call on IMDB to seek out their other projects and names.
The Umbrella Academy is a Netflix Exclusive Series
The actors who play the siblings do a great job bouncing off each other. They each come in with their own strengths, but also their own baggage. Their backstories come in small snippets of perfectly timed flashbacks. The stories are sold by the actors’ collective gravity.
The siblings aren’t the only ones that stand out. The side characters are all fully formed and have their own senses of weight, quirk, and drama as well. The mysterious duo at odds with our heroes are fantastic to watch together. The villain of the story, for lack of a more accurate term, comes later on but gets right up to speed.
The more fantastic elements of the story are handled with the same care, creativity, and leanness as the rest of the story elements. The kids powers aren’t all incredibly typical and they have their own rules. The story sticks to the rules set up, even given the fact that it’s fantasy. Certain other worldly elements evolve as the show goes on. The breadcrumbs are laid out earlier than you may even realize on your initial watch. Even some of the more common elements are done with their own twists. These twists do this amazing thing of having them be more bizarre but also more believable.
I can’t say enough positive things about this series. I blew through the whole thing in two days and started it over again already. This was not at all on my radar and I had never heard of the comic book. I’d say this even works for people who aren’t into superheroes (probably no one reading this) or comic books.