The Spiderwick Chronicles Season 1 Review

Urban fantasy has been a staple of young adult entertainment since the rise of a popular book series about a young wizard. It thrives on blending modern stories with the timeless allure of mythical creatures and magic from ancient folklore. Unfortunately, The Roku Channel’s TV adaptation of The Spiderwick Chronicles novels by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi falls short in utilizing this key element. The series seems more focused on modernizing the setting to 2024 rather than immersing it in fantastical fey creatures and mystery.

The three children in the series embody typical sibling archetypes: Simon (Noah Cottrell) is the kind one, Jared is the troublemaker, and Mallory (Mychala Lee) is the achiever. As they explore their new home filled with antique mirrors and unique lampshades, they stumble upon a hidden magical world inhabited by humans threatened by a shapeshifting ogre named Mulgarath. The show fails to capture the imaginative essence of DiTerlizzi’s designs and the enchanting creatures from the books make rare appearances, lacking the expected flair.

While aging up the characters allows for exploration of mature themes like absent parents and mental illness, it detracts from the enchanting fantasy elements integral to the series. The focus on older characters limits the presence of magical creatures, akin to how the Fantastic Beasts series underuses its magical beings. The hunt for a magical Field Guide dominates the plot, yet encounters with unicorns and fairies are scarce and often obscured by dim lighting or distance.

There’s little room left for the actual fantasy parts of this fantasy series.

The series shines when introducing unique concepts and subplots not present in the source material. It delves into cultural differences, notably portraying Black characters and intertwining their perspectives seamlessly into the narrative. The incorporation of diverse mythologies adds depth to the story, with nods to South American folklore and Eastern European and Middle Eastern cultures.

The show’s attempt to blend mythologies is evident in the giant manchineel tree dominating Spiderwick’s entryway and references to protection amulets like nazars. Dialogues draw parallels between folklore like the Native American wendigo and traditional creatures like ogres. However, the series struggles with showcasing its array of creatures, leaving viewers craving more visual spectacle.

The Spiderwick Chronicles Season 1 Images