Chucky TV Show Premiere: Child’s Play
Last year, I watched a Comic-Con horror showrunners panel. I’ll admit that when Don Mancini and Nick Antosca talked about their upcoming Chucky TV show, I barely paid attention. As a horror fan, I’m certainly familiar with Charles Entertainment Murder Doll and his franchise, Child’s Play. And while I’ve enjoyed a Chucky movie or two, I’m just not as well-versed in the series as I am in say, The Purge Cinematic Universe. Still, I tuned in to the Chucky TV show premiere. I had a “no thoughts, just vibes” expectation for the series. However, it ended up surprising me.
Chucky Series A Sequel to the Original Film Franchise
Reportedly, this series is a sequel to the film Cult of Chucky, 2017’s seventh part in the Child’s Play franchise. I’ve never seen that one, but I don’t think it matters, except to recognize Easter eggs. If you’ve seen one movie in the series (or are aware of the premise), then you know enough to follow the series. This does mean, though, that this show bears no relation to the 2019 reboot. Thank goodness. (It is the 90s–why is the reboot doll such an uggo?)
image via Syfy, USA Network, and NBCUniversal
The show is set in Hackensack, New Jersey, the birthplace of Charles Lee Ray, the serial killer whose spirit animates the homicidal Good Guys doll we all know as Chucky. 14-year-old Jake Webber (Zackary Arthur) buys Chucky at a yard sale. Lonely and a bit of a weirdo, Jake likes making art out of doll parts. And that’s why he picks up Chucky–he wants to use him as part of a sculpture.
Jake lives alone with his father, Luke (Devon Sawa), who runs a floundering auto shop and doesn’t understand his sensitive son. There is also clear tension between the pair and Luke’s twin Logan’s family, which includes wife Brie (Lexa Doig) and son Junior (Teo Briones). (Sawa also plays Logan.) Logan is clearly more successful than Luke, although he doesn’t seem to hold it over him. On the other hand, Junior is a bit of a jerk, but maybe we can chalk that up to his being a popular 14-year-old.
Still, though, he and Jake are in the same grade, which can’t be easy for Jake. Junior’s girlfriend Lexy (Alyvia Alyn Lind) certainly isn’t easy on him. To make matters worse, Jake has a crush on Devon (Bjorgvin Arnarson), who hosts his own true crime podcast, The Mystery Podcast. (In the future, everyone will be true crime podcast hosts for 15 minutes.) But, hey! In the Chucky premiere, Devon approaches Jake to be a guest on his show…for a series about what it’s like to be the victim of bullying. Yikes. For a tormented 14-year-old, the fact that he’s now the life partner of a murderous doll baby probably feels like the least of his problems.
Chucky TV Show Premiere
As I said, I went into this show with little to no assumptions. Actually, that’s untrue. I had a few thoughts and they were mostly negative predictions. As I mentioned, though, I was surprised by the show–pleasantly surprised. For one thing, one of the strengths of the original Child’s Play and its spin-offs is that creator Don Mancini has never been afraid to lean in to the silliness of the whole concept.
I mean, we’re talking about a murderer who exists in the body of a 2.5-foot-tall doll. When you watch him go running after someone on his little floppy legs, it’s funny. The knife in his hand only makes it funnier. Still, Mancini finds the heart in this series. We can’t help but empathize with Jake. Take that scene with Devon. You can see the joy on Jake’s face turn to dust as the humiliation sets in, and it hurts to see. He’s just such a sweet kid, and so open in his need to connect. Is it his fault that the first “person” who really sees him is a slaughter poppet? (No, it is not.)
image via Syfy, USA Network, and NBCUniversal
That’s not to say, though, that this show is all teenage pining. It retains the twisted humor of its source material, particularly (in the Chucky premiere) in a school talent show. Chucky drags Jakes onstage to deliver a demented kind of ventriloquist act, although no one but Jake knows that Chucky is running the show. Chucky, voiced by original actor Brad Dourif, drags the audience, calling them out for the way they’ve treated Jake. It’s both hilarious and deeply satisfying.
As the show continues, it’s going to shed light on Charles Lee Ray’s upbringing. More importantly, though, it’s going to pit Jake’s future against the machinations of an experienced killer. Who will survive in this face-off? I have no idea, but I’ll be tuning back in to find out.
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featured image via Syfy, USA Network, and NBCUniversal
Salomé Gonstad is a freelance writer who grew up in the swampy wilds of south Alabama. When she's not yelling about pop culture on the internet, she's working on a supernatural thriller about her hometown. Also, we're pretty sure she's a werewolf. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.