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Lively 'Wednesday' puts Addams Family's demon child front and center


Netflix series from Tim Burton stars Jenna Ortega as the iconic little devil.

The demon child has always been a part of man’s mythology, a monster wrapped in the seeming innocence of childhood, a sweet smile with sharp fangs beneath. 

Perhaps no character has embodied the comedic potential of the demon child as well in modern times as Wednesday Addams, who’s been around as part of the happily ghoulish Addams Family in one form or another since 1938. Along with her parents, Morticia and Gomez, her younger brother Pugsley, and some aberrant relatives, she is horror-comedy royalty.

Now director Tim Burton has given "Wednesday" her very own TV show and it is indeed a sweet piece of black bubblegum fun. After mutilating some bullies at her old school, Wednesday (Jenna Ortega) is shipped off to the same "special" high school where her parents met.

Her fellow students include vampires, shape-shifters, sirens and such. Her new roomie, Enid (Emma Myers), is a rainbow-obsessed werewolf, who clashes uncomfortably with Wednesday’s purely black-and-white palette. 

Despite her well-crafted doom and gloom vibe, Wednesday gets to know folks quickly. Within days she's hunting down a monster killing folks in a nearby forest, investigating a murder her father was charged with while in high school, fending off advances from a variety of young suitors and driving the school principal (Gwendoline Christie) bananas.

All of which is good wholesome Nancy Drew-type fun, even if Gomez (Luis Guzman) does lovingly refer to Wednesday as "My little deathtrap." By the way, Gomez and Morticia (Catherine Zeta-Jones) only pop in occasionally. Luckily, they've sent Thing (the brilliant Victor Dorobantu) to act as her right hand. 

This is a Tim Burton production, so it looks great. But looks wouldn't matter if Jenna Ortega's deadpan wasn’t just as elastic as it needed to be — she consistently pushes outside the caricature enough to keep things lively.

Or deadly. Whichever works for you.

Tom Long is a longtime contributor to The Detroit News.

'Wednesday'

GRADE: B

Netflix