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Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

The Mysterious Benedict Society is the latest Disney+ original series to hit our screens. Based on the best selling book series by Trenton Lee Stuart, the series premieres this Friday, with a double episode. 

The series follows Mr Benedict (Tony Hale), a scientist who lives in an alternate universe. The world is suffering from increased anxiety, called The Emergency, and Mr Benedict has a theory that anxiety isn’t a natural occurrence and is actually being orchestrated by someone outside of the government. Emergency broadcasts transmit subliminal messages through the media, which are accepted as truth by adults. However, kids are far less willing to accept what they’re being told is the truth. Benedict needs children’s help to infiltrate the institute where the messages originate from, so after a series of rigorous tests, he assembles a team of orphans with special abilities to help.

Renard “Reynie” Muldoon (Mystic Inscho) is a master puzzle solver, George “Sticky” Washington (Seth Carr) is a trivia champion, Kate Weatherall (Emmy DeOlivera) is a budding engineer and meteorologist, and Constance Contraire (Marta Kessler) is a social rebel without a cause and an instinct for the truth. The mission will test their skills, stamina, and ability to resist the subliminal messaging. The kids come up with the name The Mysterious Benedict Society for themselves.

The series is aimed clearly towards a preteen audience, but the political undertones will appeal to adults, especially those who have read the novels. The series remains true to the original books with themes that feel relevant to today’s world; this adds depth and intimacy to what the children are going through. We are introduced to the main characters straight away, and we’ve shown that the story talks place in a world very different to our own; this is an element to the story that had translated to screen particularly well. Although the series takes place in modern times, there is a very retro feel to the set and production design, which reminded me of an old sci-fi show that throws back to the 1950s.

The series really relies on the performances of its four main actors – Mystic Inscho, Emmy DeOliveira, Seth Carr and Marta Kessler. The main story centres around these four kids, and they do a superb job of transferring their characters from page to screen. Reynie (Mystic Inscho) is very much the lead character and the group’s leader, and the story is told somewhat through his eyes. With Kristen Schaal, Ryan Hurst as the bodyguard Milligan, and MaameYaa Boafo as Rhonda, the four youngsters are supported by a cast of well-experienced actors who fit nicely into the group.

The Mysterious Benedict Society is different from any other Disney+ Original series released on the platform. Fans of the book series will enjoy the series, as will those new to the story. All in all, I think it’s the perfect summer title that adds something different to Disney+.

The Mysterious Benedict Society lands on Disney+ This Friday, June 25th, with a 2-episode premiere. A new episode will then release weekly.

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