The Movie Guru: Streaming TV options offer sweet, spooky funJan 20, 2023 11:22AM ● By Jenniffer Wardell
Abbott Elementary (ABC, Hulu)
If you’ve wondered why the cast “Abbott Elementary” have been cleaning up this awards season, here’s your chance to find out.
The show, now in its second season, is one of the most charming, heartwarming shows currently airing right now. The jokes are delightfully silly, but there are moments of genuine tenderness and insight among them. It’s like a sweeter, less awkward version of “The Office,” complete with a ridiculous boss and a gently burgeoning romance a la Jim and Pam.
Since “Abbott Elementary” is a network television show, the episodes are essentially independent rather than pieces of a season-long story. Watching an entire chunk of episodes will give you a sense of some subtle season-long development, but you can also enjoy it an episode or two at a time and not feel left hanging. (Also, stay through the credits. They always save a funny scene for while they’re playing.)
You can always tell when an actor loves the character they’re playing.
That’s definitely the case with “Wednesday,” which follows the Addams teen as she goes away to school, untangles dark mysteries, and finds friends against her will. Though the show’s grasp of Addams characterization is flawed at times – Gomez and Morticia think way too traditionally on several occasions – Wednesday herself is nearly perfect. That’s due to Jenna Ortega, who is deadly, delightfully serious about making sure her character marches to the beat of her own funeral dirge.
I’d watch Ortega’s Wednesday do nearly anything – her deadpan one-liners are a consistent treat – but the show does provide enough mystery to keep her occupied. It’s best when she is forced to accept the help of her roommate Enid (Emma Myers), a pastel goth sweetheart with a wild side of her own. The two are a delightful odd couple, and I’m excited to see their chemistry grow when the show returns for season 2.
National Treasure: Edge of History (Disney+)
Imagine the “National Treasure” movies as young adult novels.
That’s the feel of the new series, which takes away Nicholas Cage and replaces it with a young woman discovering the secrets in her family’s past. It also moves the history from America down to Mexico, though it keeps the same structure of secret societies and key clues found in major tourist sites. It also keeps the same classic sense of adventure, capable of being both silly and achingly serious depending on the moment.
There’s also a definite YA element, well beyond just having a young woman as a protagonist. The lead girl’s best friends are the main supporting characters, and throughout the series she’s romantically torn between a friend and a mysterious new boy. It doesn't take away from the adventure, and for some viewers it may be a fun bonus.
After all, even a classic series needs a new perspective every now and then.
Jenniffer Wardell is an award-winning movie critic and member of the Utah Film Critics Association. Find her on Twitter at @wardellwriter or drop her a line at [email protected]