Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Pilot Review: The Umbrella Academy

The Umbrella Academy (Netflix)
Premiered February 15

It was merely based on the alphabet that I decided to watch “Doom Patrol,” the DC Universe series also about a group of misfit superheroes that premiered last Frida, before this one. This show isn’t affiliated with either DC or Marvel, based instead on a Dark Horse Comics publication. So much of what happened in this first episode was familiar and expected, displaying a certain spunk that helps its ragtag band of siblings take down evil and make each other miserable when they have to spend any time together after some unfortunate formative events. The humor in this show mostly works, with its style defined most by the dance sequence set to “I Think We’re Alone Now” and Number Five taking out the huge team sent to bring him in to “Istanbul Not Constantinople.” I was surprised to see Ellen Page as the star of this show, taking on a TV role leading a much less-known cast, and she didn’t display all that much enthusiasm in this opening hour. Colm Feore, veteran of the likes of “24” and “House of Cards,” is hamming it up like crazy as patriarch The Monocle, and at least he’s having fun. The other two adult cast members whose names I recognized didn’t actually appear in this episode – Mary J. Blige and Cameron Britton, Emmy nominee last year for his guest-starring role on “Mindhunter.” There are elements of this show that are appealing to me, but I still think I’d pick “Doom Patrol” over this if I decided to choose just one to start watching.

How will it work as a series? Number Five’s confession that he knew the world was going to end in eight days but he couldn’t figure out why does give this show a sense of purpose that it didn’t inherently have following their father’s death. It’s going to take some work to get the group back together, but, once they start, I imagine things will be entertaining as they take on an extinction event.
How long will it last? Ratings data isn’t something that Netflix usually releases, but premiering this show just days before cancelling all of its Marvel programming means that the streaming service will be looking for other superhero shows to fall back on. The reviews are decent, and, as long as production costs aren’t too overwhelming, I’d expect a second season renewal sometime soon.

Pilot grade: B

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