Dead Boy Detectives

Dead Boy Detectives
Dead Boy Detectives
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It’s possible that you are a fan of Steve Yockey without realizing it. He’s responsible for multiple successful television shows. During the last few seasons as a producer of Supernatural, he breathed new life into the already popular ghost series. As executive producer and showrunner of The Flight Attendant, Yockey injected two seasons worth of murder mystery comedy/drama with some quirkiness and chaos, all centered around Kaley Cuoco. His latest offering is Dead Boy Detectives, which takes elements from both aforementioned shows and leans on the involvement of highly-regarded executive producer/director Greg Berlanti (The Flash, Arrow).

These creative fires burn within a lively sci-fi/supernatural comedy/drama adapted from The Sandman Universe by DC Comics — an idea conceived by Neil Gaiman. Friendship, courage, sacrifice, dedication to the supernatural and LGBTQ+ relationships are among the many topics explored by this series.

The premise sees teenage ghosts and best friends Edwin Payne (George Rexstrew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri), who were born decades apart, solving mysteries and fending off supernatural forces while outrunning Death (and one trippy witch). They make new friends along the way — wax philosophical — deal with potential romances; it’s like if Buffy the Vampire Slayer had sex with Supernatural and had a baby…this would be that baby. And it’s good.

Dead Boy Detectives was first introduced to readers in 1991 when writer Neil Gaiman collaborated with artists Matt Wagner and Malcolm Jones III on The Sandman #25. The TV adaptation stays true to its source material — by episode three you’ll find yourself invested in all the whimsy presented at breakneck speeds while forgiving any rushing out of gates; it expects you to follow along…maybe even catch up. After all… there’s fun to be had.

Edwin is a bowtie-wearing soul from the early 20th century, played by Rexstrew. Charles is the self-proclaimed “brawn” of the duo, played by Revri. They happened to attend the same British boarding school many decades apart — they met in death, and after some time spent in Hell by Edwin (just watch and follow), the two outwit The Afterlife’s overseer while solving a slew of mysteries; let’s say a demon has hold of your dearest memories, or a ghost is attached to you — these are your guys.

The first few episodes have Edwin and Charles adjusting to several major alterations in their everyday lives. A clairvoyant named Crystal (Kassius Nelson) becomes new to their daily interactions. Edwin isn’t too fond of her at first because Charles’ attention is now suddenly split between him and Claire. There’s an early supernatural conundrum Claire must work through wickedly fun — her demonic ex has her locked down — then she becomes part of the detective team against Edwin’s wishes.

It creates a believable love triangle to build off of. It also allows each of these three great actors to shine in different ways, especially Nelson, whose psychic abilities become a strange thing to fight with. But the best part is the phenomenal co-stars and guest stars here. Plus fun special effects that are actually shown with some moderation, adding that it’s more about the people than the spectacle which is usually good.

Claire’s friend Niko (Yuyu Kitamura) comes into the picture as her ghostly roommate. There’s a grotesque demon who has possessed Niko, and I won’t ruin how that gets resolved — but it’s one of the sillier adventures the group goes on, and it brings her girl into what’s essentially turned into a detective squad. Other characters shine too, though! Briana Cuoco (Caley’s sister) plays Claire’s goth landlord/butcher, who lets herself get swept up in all the hijinks happening above her shop and around town.

Speaking of… Jenn Lyon (Justified, Claws) is campy as hell as Esther, a witchy bitch in town who has set her sights on Edwin and Charles — who suddenly can’t really leave the area because of her. All thanks to another “townie,” the Cat King played by Lukas Gage, pouring on sex appeal and charm CK takes a liking to Edwin which forces Dead Boy — typically more reserved — to ruminate on something other than work.

Meanwhile… The Afterlife is fucked. Ppeople are dying faster than ever before and there isn’t enough time or space or staff or anything to get them all where they need to be exactly when they need to be there — including Edwin and Charles! Enter: Night Nurse played ruth connell repeating role origin story doom patrol blah blah These characters give our main group plenty to deal with but their own stories are just as juicy.

The show unfolds as an episodic procedural through the lens of a serialized teen comedy mystery series. There’s always a “case” to solve. There’s always a problem (or several) to work through. There’s always some supernatural vfx trick up its sleeve, and, most importantly, there’s always something else that will be revealed. It’s also funny! It might feel too much like Joe Cornish’s canceled Netflix series Lockwood & Co., and can lean into YA tropes a little too hard, but it is above reproach.

We learn more about the core three with each episode — and while all of the characters shine, you end up being particularly curious about where this series is going to take Edwin’s character next. His story arc keeps making him have to figure out who he really is/was which means pushing past his self-imposed comfort zones every time. We want these characters to win, which makes Dead Boy Detectives so fun to watch in the end. Bottom line: No mystery here — the show is great and worth the binge.

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