Umbrella Academy, a delightful surprise

Hugh Farrell

In what could be considered an overly saturated superhero market The Umbrella Academy seems to succeed at making a name for itself with well developed characters, a lively soundtrack and quality production.

The show attempts to delve into wide realm of science fiction but can try to do too much in one season. The introduction of a monkey butler and a cyborg mother into a show about time-travelling superheros puts the show way over the top at times. While 10, hour long episodes allow for plenty of time to explore the newly established world, it does become unnecessarily eccentric and drawn out with a few random and unnecessary dance sequences that should have been left out.

The major twists in the show are also very formulaic and predictable. The only redeeming factor for these is that they are introduced just early enough that the show doesn’t become too reliant on them to pack a punch.

Now onto the major plot issues, which will definitely include spoilers.

The first episode allows for unlimited possibilities in this universe with an immediate introduction to the idea that there are 43 people with superhuman abilities, (even if we only get to see seven) so the show is already primed for another series if it’s successful enough. We then get to see the classic trope of the death of a paternal figure being the force that pushes our main characters together after a long time apart.

If this wasn’t already formulaic enough the cast come together as the comic relief, the stereotypical leader, the lone wolf/revenge focused one, the egotist, the compassionate mother and the relatable, normal one. While this is the dream team type set up, it does mean that they all follow their predictable storylines where they have to challenge the classic flaws that match the character type. For example, Luther has to worry that he’s not leadership material and Diego has to challenge his motives for revenge. It’s not necessarily a bad setup but it can be reliant on action sequences and Robert Sheehan essentially playing his character of Nathan from Misfits to keep you invested.

After the main characters have been introduced we meet Cha-Cha and Hazel who present a secondary story line which intertwines nicely with theirs but can draw away from the main storyline a bit too much at times.

Each of the characters have their own journey with some actually having a good payoff and dealing with serious issues in an entertaining yet appropriate way. Unsurprisingly, the two biggest stories and character arcs seem to have been given to Robert Sheehan and Ellen Page as they discover the most about their powers and themselves as they go along.

Aidan Gallagher is the surprising star though in this set up as the young character has the most importance placed on them throughout. Despite the fact that the gag of an old man in a young man’s body loses appeal in no time and the characters arrogance can also become irritating, Gallagher does a great job of playing the character who ties the unnecessary amount of plots together.

The Umbrella Academy is a perfectly tolerable show to replace the cancelled Marvel shows with. It has so many paths it can go down so Netflix will be happy to know they can pump out season after season until we’re sick of it. The show may cover too many storylines and would have been better off dropping to seven episodes and trimming off the excess but it still deserves a solid 6/10 for a first season that had a lot to establish.

 

Hugh Farrell

Image Credit: TVInsider