Wednesday proves wonderfully original while paying tribute to original Addams’ roots

by Gordon Shelly

It is nearly impossible to survive the expectations of something that has been around for so long. With The Addams Family there is the history of the comic strip, a beloved live action TV series, an animated TV series, a popular movie series, an animated movie reboot, and an attempted TV revival.

The comic strip first appeared in 1938, so you’re talking about nearly a century of expectations. Before the series premiered, naysayers were shouting on social media that Luis Guzmán was no Raul Julia, while purists were arguing Guzmán better captured the original representation of the original cartoon version of Gomez.

However, with Tim Burton at the helm, Burton is going to do Burton. And, while his creations can often be more hit than miss, Wednesday is a hit in every way that it can be.

Burton manages to weave the tangled web of paying homage in one way or another to all the beloved elements of Addams Family past while creating an entirely new world that feels very much its own.

And Jenna Ortega, as the title character, has been launched into a world of superstardom both on Netflix and on social media.

Burton chooses to focus on Wednesday and Thing. Surprisingly, somehow or another, Thing, a bodiless hand (Victor Dorobantu), is often the emotional heart of the series. Gomez, Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones), and Uncle Fester (Fred Armisen) are very secondary characters, while Burton builds an entirely new world with new characters.

And it works. It works quite well.

Burton mixes his visual style with a dab of gore, moments of emotion, plenty of drama, and wraps it all in murder mystery. In fact, at times this feels more like a cross between Enola Holmes and Harry Potter rather than an Addams Family revival.

Nevertheless, Ortega nails Wednesday, and Burton keeps a perfect mix of nostalgia and originality to make us excited about season 2.

Gordon’s Grade: B+