Netflix actually bit off a lot once they ordered an adaptation of Sweet Tooth. The unique shaggy dog story, a little bit of fairy story folklore set in the barren aftermath of a worldwide disaster, had lot happening. There’s the apocalypse, clearly, however an apocalypse timed with the sudden arrival of human/animal hyrbids in each supply room throughout the world. Bringing that imaginative and prescient, the imaginative and prescient of creator/author/artist Jeff Lemire, to life on display screen appeared completely unattainable.
The outdated saying tells filmmakers to by no means work with animals or children, and Sweet Tooth is a present with an 11-year-old lead whose premise requires numerous animals and animal traits, be they actual, CG, or animatronic. Not solely that, however this present about a fictional plague was introduced by Netflix throughout an precise pandemic. A child lead, make-up results that would simply veer into cutesy workplace Halloween celebration territory, and a premise that would really feel depressingly too quickly after the yr we’ve all had. With all that in thoughts, Sweet Tooth pulled off a miracle with its first episode.
Granted, Sweet Tooth’s very premise and full Portlandia/Homeward Bound/Walking Dead vibe shall be an acquired style. All tasks primarily based on comics, be they superhero or mature readers fare from Vertigo, have goal audiences. But what makes Sweet Tooth so exceptional is the way it takes a bonkers premise that completely works on the printed web page and brings it viscerally to life. By the time you get midway by means of the first episode, you’ll consider in the heartbreaking and heartwarming humanity of a boy with antlers.
That’s as a result of the child they discovered to play Gus, the titular moppet who earns the moniker “Sweet Tooth” in the first episode. Christian Convery’s requested to do a lot on this present: he’s the focus of the collection, with all the emoting and leaping and pleasure and trauma that entails—and he has to do all that whereas making antlers and deer ears look pure. The present is fueled by Gus’s marvel, his courageous naïveté, and Convery offers the present its coronary heart.
The supernatural setting of Sweet Tooth is bought by the extremely grounded performances that reside in the scattered stays of human society. Will Forte brings nice dad power proper at the begin of the present. Similar to Jason Sudeikis in Ted Lasso and Ed Helms in Rutherford Falls, Forte delivers a efficiency that has a smooth, welcoming masculinity to it. He’s the kinda man we’re lastly beginning to see extra of on TV—a man who’s not afraid to be emotionally out there to his child. And that’s a good factor as a result of, as depicted in the first episode, Gus and his father actually solely have one another in the ramshackle woodland wonderland they’ve carved for themselves.
And whereas we don’t get a lot of him in the pilot, Nonso Anozie’s broken loner Tommy Jepperd enters the present like a masculinity wrecking ball, little question making him the good foil for Gus shifting ahead.
Even the upsettingly actual premise, a pandemic that takes an inconceivable toll on humanity, doesn’t really feel exploitative of the second in the manner that a few of the fast post-lockdown media did. It truly, one way or the other, feels cathartic and validating. Perhaps that’s as a result of the present’s creators, together with author/director Jim Mickle, have been capable of weave elements of our shared trauma into this fictional narrative with out telling a story explicitly about COVID-19. This collection about a fictional plague filmed whereas the world was in quarantine, because of particular permission from New Zealand. The solid and crew themselves have been, like Gus and his father, remoted in nature whereas the world crumbled round them. Because of all this, Sweet Tooth appears like the first piece of media produced to take what we find out about what actually occurs throughout a pandemic and apply it to an allegorical fantasy.
This is a lot for a collection to tackle, not to mention a pilot. But, like the finest pilots, Sweet Tooth’s clearly establishes this bizarre-yet-real world (having narration from James Brolin undoubtedly helps) and leaves you desirous to proceed the journey.
Lots of trendy TV episodes underscore emotional moments with sweeping, folksy tunes that sound like the Lumineers but in addition aren’t the Lumineers—however Gus’s epic begin to his hero’s journey is kind of probably the most justified use of that trope and the finest executed. It’s a sequence that provides you chills, that pulls your coronary heart up into your throat, all for characters that you simply simply met. Suddenly a present primarily based on a comedian about a deer boy trekking by means of a toppled society doesn’t appear so bizarre. Suddenly it appears like a story as outdated as time, and a story that would solely be instructed now. Thank god Netflix performs Episode 2 mechanically.