‘The Mysterious Benedict Society‘ TV adaptation is coming – here’s how to watch
“The Mysterious Benedict Society” is a quirky, clever, and utterly enjoyable 8-episode Disney + series that should wow and delight people of all ages.
Of course, this might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but those who enjoy a one-of-a-kind job full of memorable characters, wonderfully written dialogue, and a whimsical allure should take advantage.
When the song “The Morning After” from the 1970s disaster movie “The Poseidon Adventure” plays a key role in an episode, you know you are in unique creative territory. “The Mysterious Benedict Society” is like an arthouse / Wes Anderson film for children. It is based on a series of popular books by Trenton Lee Stewart.
My daughter, who is almost 8, read the first book, loved it, and was a little nervous that the series didn’t do justice to the popular book series. While there are certainly some differences from the book, I’m happy to report that it maintains the integrity and spirit of the series and is an odd delight.
My daughter also thought the show was awesome. We had many discussions on the show and touched on the moral dilemmas presented, the importance of working as a team to achieve goals, and talked about some of the show’s themes, the jargon and scientific theories and the literary jargon used throughout.
“The Mysterious Benedict Society” is about a vague crisis called L’Urgence. It included a struggling economy, fear and doubt among citizens, and other factors that plague the world. A brilliant and excitable man by the name of Mr. Benedict (Tony Hale) recruits four children – all orphaned or abandoned – for a dangerous mission to infiltrate the sinister Learning Institute for Veritas and Enlightenment located on an island. He thinks the cause of the emergency is from this place. The Institute is a school headed by Mr. Curtain. We later find out that he’s the identical twin brother of the long-lost Mr. Benedict, both played by Hale. Their story is fascinating, with interesting motivations, betrayals, and character arcs.
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The children are Reynie Muldoon (Mystic Inscho), the gentle, compassionate, intelligent and resourceful leader of the children’s group. There is also George “Sticky” Washington (Seth B. Carr). He is incredibly intelligent with a photographic memory who copes with difficult situations but is ultimately a loyal and compassionate friend.
Kate Wetheral (Emmy DeOliveira) is an insightful kid who thinks fast on her feet. At one point, she worked in a circus and always carries a bucket full of tools that she might need. She fights in school, but her tetherball skills prevent her from being kicked off the island and brain-scanned, meaning her memories are erased. Marta Kessler is a hoot as Constance Contraire, one of the children Benedict recruits. She’s a gruff girl with a biting mind who doesn’t play well with others, but can shine when she feels like it. Constance is a weird duck who has some of the best jokes on the show.
They are all young actors who engage and enrich the material. Well done to the casting director for finding them.
The cast is uniformly excellent led by Hale of fame “Arrested Development” and “Veep,” who seems to relish the juicy dual roles of Mr. Benedict and his evil brother Dr. Curtain. I won’t be shocked if he’s nominated for another Emmy for his outstanding work.
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There are a number of terrific tricks by the cast. Some of the stars include the brilliant Kristen Schaal as number two, Mr Benedict’s loyal assistant and former professional pool player, who is always available to help in a pinch, such as building a hut at the last minute. . There is a momentous turning point for Ryan Hurst as Milligan. He’s an associate of Mr. Benedict. Mr Benedict has found poor Milligan after having a brain scan and has no idea who he is. Hurst is exceptional and is a formidable straightforward presence. MaameYaa Boafo brings gravity and heart to the role of Rhonda, an associate of Benedict who helps to help the children and end the Mr. Curtain project.
Overall, “The Mysterious Benedict ‘Society” captivated me from start to finish. It’s a program worth seeing.
“The Mysterious Benedict Society” is currently streaming on Disney +.
Rated PG TV for moderate violence and fear.