tek's rating: ¾

The Umbrella Academy, on Netflix
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Caution: spoilers.

This 2019 series is based on the comic book series The Umbrella Academy. (It was originally meant to be a theatrical film, before becoming a web series instead.) It combines some elements of the first two miniseries of the comics, 2007's "Apocalypse Suite" and 2008's "Dallas", though it leaves out a lot of elements of both miniseries, as well as adding new elements. But I don't remember enough about either miniseries to compare or contrast them from the web series in any detail. Still, I was a fan of the comics, so I very much wanted to see the web series, but I don't get Netflix. So I didn't see it until 2021, when I got season one on DVD. I'm not sure when I'll get a chance to see season two. Anyway, it's all very weird and surreal (which I like), though unfortunately not quite as much so as the comics.

Season One
On October 1, 1989, 43 "special" children were born around the world. Seven of them were adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves, who gave them only numbers instead of names. They would, however, later be given names by their android "mother", Grace. Number 1 is Luther, aka Spaceboy. The others are Diego, Allison, Klaus, Ben, and Vanya. The exception is Number 5, who never got a name because one day disappeared when he was 13. His ability was teleportation, but his disappearance was caused by using the ability to travel into the future. He found himself in the present (2019, I suppose), shortly after an apocalypse destroyed the world. He spent decades traveling alone, but eventually joined an organization of time travelers called the Commission, who I guess are supposed to keep time on its proper path, or something. Five eventually found a way to teleport himself into the past, eight days before the apocalypse, but he was back in his 13-year-old body. He wants to stop the apocalypse, but the Commission believes it was meant to happen, so they send assassins back in time to stop Five. When the original group fails, the Commission sends a more badass pair of killers named Hazel and Cha-Cha (Mary J. Blige). But Hazel gets distracted from the mission when he falls in love with a doughnut shop owner named Agnes. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

It's hard to know what to say about this series, and in what order to say it. I should have said before that Hargreeves referred to the estate where he raised the seven children as the Umbrella Academy, and he trained them to fight crime. So I think "Umbrella Academy" also refers to the team of heroes. However, he excluded Vanya, who apparently had no special abilities. Sometime prior to the start of the series, Ben died, and sometime after that, the team disbanded. Luther has been living on the Moon for a few years, sent by Hargreeves for unclear reasons. Diego is now a vigilante, who is good at hand-to-hand combat and throwing knives. (Unlike the others, he doesn't seem to have actual supernatural abilities, unless I missed something. He did in the comics, though.) Allison, who can control people's actions by telling them "I heard a rumor..." is now an actress with a young daughter named Claire. However, Allison is now separated from her ex-husband Patrick, who has custody of Claire. Klaus has the ability to communicate with the dead, though he's spent years getting high to shut out the spirits. Now the only one he sees on a regular basis is Ben. Vanya (Elliot Page) is a violinist, who meets a man named Leonard Peabody, who becomes a love interest and encourages Vanya to see herself as special, while also trying to exacerbate the estrangement between her and her siblings. Anyway, the surviving members of the Academy come together for the first time in years for the funeral of the recently deceased Hargreeves. They're also joined by Grace and Pogo, an intelligent (CGI) chimpanzee who had worked closely with Hargreeves.

Well, so much happens throughout the season's ten episodes, and I don't want to spoil or even begin to get into most of it. I should say that Diego is sort of friends with a cop named Eudora Patch, who is constantly warning him to stay out of police matters. Luther investigates Hargreeves's death, suspecting foul play. And... yeah, there's really not much else I want to say, except that it eventually turns out Vanya does have powers of her own, and that Hargreeves had suppressed them and lied about it. And... the way the season ends is not the way the story ends in the comics. Five and his siblings try and fail to prevent the apocalypse, but to save them all Five attempts to take them all into the future just before the end. But we don't see what happens after they disappear from the present, so... that's a major cliffhanger that makes me eager to see season two. Meanwhile, I'm sorry for leaving out so many details of the plot, but like I said, I really don't want to spoil more than I have to.

Season Two
If I ever get around to watching this season, I should also check out Council of Geeks' video about it.

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