Netflix may have found the perfect series for viewers who came to the streaming service when “Stranger Things” appeared for the first time.
After all stories involving misfit youths have become the building blocks of entire networks like the CW and Nickelodeon. This is how programming works. There has never been a larger audience for this kind of series.
Based upon a graphic novel by Joe Hill & Gabriel Rodriguez it took seven years to develop a live action series for Netflix.
The time and expense has payed off. I have watched “Riverdale” and “Stranger Things”. Both of those dramas are appealing. Lock & Key blows them both away in my humble view.
You see “Riverdale” is a slick dark reboot of comic strip characters that remade the Archies into anti-hero teen delinquent outcasts. I found by its recent third season to get tired.
The show spent an entire season on a Dungeons & Dragons style role-playing game. Trying to match “Stranger Things” in the 1980’s nostalgia department with many helpings of beefcake, Archie turns boxer, and serves a stint in juvenile detention.
“Stranger Things” brought myself and many other viewers to Netflix for the first time. Upon its debut the 1980’s set supernatural serial cleverly became the best Stephen King series not actually made by Stephen King.
The Duffer brothers created a series they thought was going to be limited until it became a cultural phenom.
After producing 3 series I find the show repeating itself. The monster was super cool in series 1 but by a third helping it’s way less impressive.
I have not finished viewing Season 1 of Lock & Key. The Netflix service just announced a renewal for Season 2. After five episodes I am happy it will return.
I have always loved fantasy shows on TV. I will write about some of the programs my generation sat through in the pre-digital days like Sid & Marty Krofft’s trippy Pufnstuf or Filmation’s live action Shazam!
But I digress. Lock & Key gets everything right. Using the many tropes of gothic tales at its disposal plus the enduring value of good natured youth experiencing a truly dangerous world for the first time works because the cast is that good.
The basic story involves a family that is forced to uproot their lives in Seattle because their Dad is murdered in cold blood by a mysterious foe.
Moving back to their ancestral home in the small town of Matheson in Massachusetts exposes the Locke family to their father’s magical legacy.
Key House as it is known is a Victorian style manse that makes the Bates home in “Psycho” look like Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion.
Kinsey Locke (Emilia Jones) is the middle child. Tyler Locke (Connor Jessup) is the eldest sib. Bode Locke is the youngest of the three. He is played by Jackson Robert Scott ( Georgie in the remake of Stephen King’s IT in 2017).
In the series premiere directed by Andy Muschietti ( Stephen King’s IT) Bode comes into contact with a spirit which at first glance appears to be dead. The well house is a separate structure on the grounds.
Bode hears a moaning whisper calling him. The ‘Well Lady’ is the pet name Bode assigns her in the beginning. Yes, this scene is similar to Stephen King’s IT, but it works so who cares!
Like all fantasy before it especially Harry Potter only kids have memories of the supernatural workings surrounding them. The adults cannot remember what has happened. This places a heavy burden on the kids.
Within the Key House there are hidden keys. Each has a specific magical property.
*****************Spoiler Alert. Read no further if you have not read the books. Or Watched the show!***
The ‘Well Lady’ will be revealed as Dodge (Laysla De Oliveira), a villain in the mold of Snow White’s Evil Queen.
As in all fairy tales she will trick innocent Bode into giving her the key that allows you to travel anywhere in the world. That is as long as you have been there already and use a door to transport yourself.
Kinsey Locke and Tyler Locke are the wonder twins of the series. Protective of each other their falling outs prove nearly fatal when their father’s killer is enabled by Dodge to transport himself to Key House.
Their Mom, Nina Locke (Darby Stanchfield) is grieving the loss of their Dad, Rendell Locke (Bill Heck. She has no idea what is happening to her kids until this awful encounter with her husband’s killer.
Carlton Cuse ( TV’s “LOST”) is the showrunner and one of the creators of this series. He is expert on multiple storylines and paths crossing in past and present. He applies that skill here with the precision required to pull of both horror and camp.
In my view he put some of Lost’s best ideas back to work here. Including an episode in which Kinsey and her friends explore a sea cave to scout as a possible locale for their horror movie project, ‘The Splattering’.
The high tide almost traps them. The group winds up going for an unplanned swim to save themselves from drowning. A fate that the Locke’s Dad’s friends suffered years before their arrival in town.
In a similar format to another Netflix series, “Thirteen Reasons Why” in which each title sequence reveals whose tape will be featured, “Locke & Key” reveals a new key in its opening title.
Bode starts school a week after his older sibs. He explores the house first. The discovery of magical keys becomes a kid’s scavenger hunt (remember those from camp!).
Bode cannot resist finding out the function of each key upon discovery. His sibs only catch up later after the ‘Head’ key is found.
This allows the holder to unlock their heads. You can physically enter your own mind. Dark humor is unleashed in these scenes.
Bode is over excited by his mind in the form of an underground gaming arcade.
Kinsey’s mind is an ever expanding state of the art mall. The store marked ‘Dad Memories’ is a well organized candy vault.
Tyler refuses to go inside his own mind until he needs to impress a girl at school.
Anyway, you get the main idea. Finding magical instruments and learning how to use them is a special task for those inexperienced in reality.
The maze gets more cunning with each episode. Another key is found; the threat of Dodge ever present. She will seduce Tyler. He will escape just in time.
In playful moments Kinsey brings the magic to school against the sage advice of Tyler. She humiliate Eden Hawkins (Hallea Jones) , the school’s mean girl.
Bode finds a key that turns him into a ghost. He floats around like Casper.
Tyler gives in to the spell of the keys when he discovers he can add books worth of knowledge to his mind at tossing each volume through his portal when using the Head key.
The balance the show manages between dark and light is breath taking to watch. I just hope the energy of Season 2 matches this first one.