The Umbrella Academy Is Not Your Parents’ X-Men

The Umbrella Academy has a family meeting

The Umbrella Academy has a family meeting. Left to right: Number (Aiden Hallagher), Vanya (Ellen Page), Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus (Robert Sheehan), Luther (Tom Hopper), and Diego (David Castaneda). Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

Hit show The Umbrella Academy has been renewed for a second season, according to such sources as the Nerdist, so now seems as good a time as any to review season one. I embrace science fiction when the stories go down an unorthodox road. Too often, comic-based and Disney movies follow typical archetypes of a story. I like it when something breaks the mold and goes down a darker road for once, or even a strange or obscure one, for that matter. That is what I think The Umbrella Academy did. I was not familiar with the comic-book version, so the premise of seven kids with powers who were adopted by a scientist and ultimately fight crime while living at his mansion sounded a tad too close to a Marvel property I know well. Then I started watching. Let’s just say this property is a tad different.

For those who have not seen, read, or heard of The Umbrella Academy, this is the story in a nutshell: On October 1, 1989, 43 women around the world gave birth at the exact same time. Seven of these children were gathered up and adopted by Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). As they grew, each child developed a power of sorts.

The Umbrella Academy back in the day

The Umbrella Academy as kids. Left to right: Luther (Cameron Brodeur), Diego (Blake Talabis), Allison (Eden Cupid), Klaus (Dante Albidone), Number Five (Aidan Gallagher), and Ben (Ethan Hwang). Vanya is not pictured. Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

Luther/Number One/Spaceboy (Tom Hopper) has superstrength.

Diego/Number Two/the Kraken (David Castañeda) has the ability to curve anything he throws (mostly knives).

Allison/Number Three/the Rumor (Emmy Raver-Lampman) has the ability to manipulate reality by whispering, “I heard a rumor . . .”

Klaus/Number Four/the Séance (Robert Sheehan) has the ability to communicate with the dead.

Number Five/the Boy (Aidan Gallagher) has the ability to jump through space and eventually time.

Ben/Number Six/the Horror (Justin H. Min) possesses monsters from other dimensions within his skin. He is long since passed at the beginning of the series.

Vanya/Number Seven (Ellen Page) is a seemingly ordinary and powerless individual.

The show begins with the death of Sir Reginald and all the children returning to their childhood home to pay their respects to their only father figure. While there, family squabbles ensue, and we also see the mysterious return of Number Five. Number Five had run off at age 13 and never returned until now. However, there is a problem. Not only had Number Five jumped forward in time the very day he ran away, he also spent decades in the future and then returned—in his 13-year-old body but with his much-older mind and intelligence. From there, the siblings are exposed to one mystery after another as they work to solve the supposed murder of their father, the meaning of Number Five’s return, including how he got back and who may be after him, and of course, head off the apocalypse.

Number Five with some precious cargo

Number Five (Aidan Gallagher). Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

Now, why is this show great? It is so unbelievably different! First of all, as you progress through the show, once you think you’ve figured something out, bam! There’s a twist and you’re more confused than ever. The history of Sir Reginald comes to mind in that respect. Also, with no explanation, the Hargreeves family has a talking chimpanzee named Pogo (voiced by Adam Godley) who seemingly works as a butler for the family. Then there is a quasi-incestuous relationship between two of the siblings. Remember, there are no blood relations in this household, so that’s not a Game of Thrones ripoff. The show is not without its humor, though it does tend to delver on the darker side of things. Klaus in particular is a favorite of mine. He is the flamboyant, drug-addicted sibling who often conjures the spirit of Ben as a companion of sorts. Though that sounds a tad off-putting, Klaus usually makes it humorous, whether purposeful or not.

Vanya in a most vulberable state

Vanya (Ellen Page). Christos Kalohoridis/Netflix

This show is hard to define without absolutely spoiling everything. However, I can say for those interested that it is a geek’s dream come true. In the first season we get time travel, superhuman powers, death, spirits, talking animals, and then some. It’s as if the creators crammed everything geeks love into one series. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention the truly kick-ass soundtrack. I have never viewed a television show with a better soundtrack. The only way I can truly describe it is by asking you to imagine if Guardians of the Galaxy got a television series: Hart, the Kinks, Tiffany, Queen, the Hollies, the Doors, Radiohead, and many more all have songs featured throughout the season. It’s truly a show for us, geeks. Enjoy!

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