The Hobbit, His Dark Materials, Harry Potter – all were originally written for children. And yet all have massive appeal to adults – especially when seen on screen.
The Mysterious Benedict Society follows into the same vein: originally a book series by author Trenton Lee Stewart, it’s now a two-season TV show that’s absolutely the best thing I’ve seen in ages – and, in many ways, a haunting indictment of society!
I came late to the series. The Disney+ channel is not my usual haunt, and this series is now close on two years old. But on a wet weekend when I was feeling whimsical, serendipity made me click. And from the very first episode (a delightful mix of intelligence problems wrapped up in a thrilling plotline), I was hooked.
Taking place in a parallel 1950s, we find a location in which the internet and mobile phones were never invented; where travel is by airship rather than aeroplane. And yet, like our own world (or island), conformism and angst remain the order of the day…
Into this scenario come four gifted children: the traditionally academic Sticky, lateral thinking Reynie, Kate the talented engineer, and wildcard Constance. All are recruited by the eccentric Mr Benedict to save their home from The Emergency, a shadowy threat that causes people to become unquestioning, unhappy automatons riddled with anxiety.
Working through a series of clever puzzles, exciting missions, and surprising twists, our clever protagonists set out to restore individuality, independence and self-acceptance, in a series that might just be exactly what we need in Cyprus!
As a self-proclaimed introverted idealist, The Mysterious Benedict Society is certainly the show I’ve been waiting for – a sort of Brave New World meets 1984 all wrapped up in a Wes Anderson-style pastel aesthetic. Humorous and heart-warming, it defies expectations – the antithesis of formulaic TV. Like all the best fiction, it’s based on a book series (which I now need to read). And while the plot appeals to kids, the message is eminently adult.
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