Lockwood & Co. (Netflix, urban fantasy, killer ghosts, Scooby Gang)

Well this show is turning out to be a LOVELY surprise. And honestly Saturday morning I had no idea it even existed. Then during the afternoon, this tweet chanced across my timeline:

If series showrunner Joe Cornish’s name sounds familiar, he did the movie Attack the Block about ten years ago. And I guess he was the lead screenwriter for Ant-Man?

And the source material are a series of Young Adult-aimed books by a writer named Joe Stroud who has quite the following in the YA genre.

Anyway, I figured I’d try one episode and then blow this off if it didn’t connect. But wow. Loved it! And now I’ve binged the first three episodes, and I’m hooked.

The premise is pretty terrific: it’s set in London in an alternate timeline world, where ghosts have been real for 50 years now. Really real. In fact, the era of ghosts showing up everywhere (a newspaper headline in the opening credits pegs the death toll from murderous ghosts as more than a million) is called (with typical British understatement) “The Problem”.

And ghosts in this world? They kill on touch. They can also cause something called “Ghost Lock”, in which the victim survives, but is sort of “locked” into a glassy eyed mental prison not too different from the “sleeping sickness” of the 1920s and 30s.

Oh, and here’s the kicker: adults can’t really detect or hear or see ghosts until it’s too late. Only kids and teenagers can see them and detect them, and even then, only some of them. And so “Agencies” hire teens and train them up in various specialties required for ghost hunting, and these teen agents seem to be fighting a losing war against constantly increasing spectral presences in London. We see lots of nameplates on memorial edifices in town squares for teen agents killed by ghosts in the line of duty.

The hero of the series is Lucy Carlyle. She’s a “listener” in the parlance of Agency folk: she can hear ghosts in a haunted place well before they materialize. And she’s estranged from her family – and the agency that originally trained her, and goes to work for a rag-tag would-be agency run by two other teenagers: Lockwood and Company.

Yeah, I know. This is the kind of premise that could descend into utter silliness. But it doesn’t here. Everyone – the cast, the director, the writers – they’re all bought in, and that makes this work. The dialogue is witty and often hilariously dark.

And there’s just a sheen of pure coolness on all of this. The main weapon of an Agent? An iron rapier. Because that’s just cool. And also chains, because why not? And the whole setting has this vague whiff of the Fallen London of Failbetter Games, or a game like Cultist Simulator. And the soundtrack is terrific, and perfectly attuned to the show: “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” in the first episode, plenty of Cure songs, some This Mortal Coil…

And the cast is really good. Ruby Stokes has the lead role of Lucy, and she’s a revelation. She’d only been given bit parts in the first two seasons of Bridgerton (which she left, forcing a recast for season 3), but here she’s the center of the show, and she’s got the chops and screen presence to carry things.

Netflix seems to have done fuck-all to promote this, and that’s a shame. Joe Cornish apparently has asked for 3 seasons to tell the story he wants to tell by adapting the books, and I hope he gets it, this show deserves it and I think a lot of folks here would love it.

Here’s a four-star review that ran in The Guardian last week:

True enough - and on top the trailer that auto plays for it is awful to boot. I saw it bubbled up for me, watched the trailer and moved on with my life not knowing what this show was but also not particularly caring. I’ll have to give it a second look now.

This sounds cool but it doesn’t sound “hilarious” or like a comedy?

It isn’t a comedy. But the dialogue is often witty and even quite funny.

Buffy or Supernatural, or the X-Files, etc weren’t comedies either. But quite often was laugh-out-loud funny.

I’ve enjoyed the show a good bit (finished the first season). As with most shows, you occasionally need to step back and disengage the “Wait, why didn’t they ___” side of your brain, but it’s a fun ride so far.

I’ve already finished this, I binged it over the week. I’m kicking myself for not starting this thread, because you’re absolutely right. It’s an incredible show and it deserves to tell its full story. @triggercut nails it in his first post.

But, with no spoilers, it ends on the cliffiest of cliffhangers, even as the main storyline is wrapped up. So, if you’re totally averse to cliffhangers, this might not be for you.

I loved it, and it’s based on YA source material, so it’s likely doomed. My approval for that kind of thing is like the kiss of death on Netflix (see: Teenage Bounty Hunters, Winx, Warrior Nun).

YOU! It’s all your fault!

Yeah, it’d suck if they didn’t get at least one more season. But I guess if it happens, I’ll read the books.

I got my wife to watch the first two episodes of this and we both liked it quite a lot. Thanks for the recommendation, I never would have watched this otherwise.

I really love the world-building in the show. Lots of offhand expository dialogue, sure. But also lots of showing: the scenes like the interior of the Fittes Agency – of course there’s a gigantic corporate megalithic agency, and inside there are all sorts of teens/young adults dressed in corporate attire, all walking around with their stylish leather rapier carriers/sheaths. It’s very well realized.

My youngest daughter watched the first episode of this show, and then asked us to watch it as well, because she liked it so much. She then watched it a third time with my oldest daughter (who wasn’t home when we watched it), and now the whole family is hooked! Only two episodes in, but eager to continue when we are all home and have the time (which, unfortunately, isn’t too often).

I watched the first episode yesterday thanks to this thread. I got to say, the confidence in the storytelling isn’t something I was expecting. The episode is pretty much flawless. Looking forward to the rest.

I’ve got the books reserved at the local library. I’m hoping to hook my daughter with them, which will lead to us being able to watch together. I think a strong, female character like Lucy is a great role model for her. Lucy is flawed, but doing the best she can in a very difficult world. And she speaks her mind! She’s fantastic, as is Ruby Stokes’s portrayal of her.

The question is whether or not I should read the books, too. I know I’ll get spoiled if Netflix green lights a future season, but I usually do read a book before watching an onscreen adaptation, so this would just be a reversion to form.

From what Joe Cornish has said, the first season of the show basically covers the first two books, and he’s envisioned a second season would cover books three and four, and then a season three would do book five.

So I guess that’s a rough conversion of books to episodes, if that helps?

This is indeed good! It just goes to show that execution is everything, since on paper the premise - “supernaturally gifted teens hunt ghosts in a dystopia” - is a bunch of very standard YA tropes from a dozen years ago. But the fact that the tropes are familiar matters not at all when they’re done well.

The only thing I don’t love is the title sequence. But it does make me smile, since it reminds me so much of Wellington Paranormal. I’m just sad the headlines aren’t things like, “Vampire Gains Access Through Zoom Invite.”

(Though getting back to the actual show, I do like the fact that it deals deftly with its world building, for example gently showing us that technological change stagnated after The Problem rather than rubbing it in our faces. A lesser series would have the character say something like, “Too bad the Problem came along, otherwise we’d have computers that fit in the palm in our hands by now, and I wouldn’t have to spend so much time at the library!” in the first ten minutes of the first episode.)

Based on this thread, my wife and I watched the first two episodes last night, and it was a success!

By which I mean it is apparently a show that my wife and I both enjoyed.

This seems promising, at least?

Netflix’s own report on global viewing stats.

I looked up and down the interface for it yesterday, hoping to see a top 10 list or something, maybe finding it there. But nope. I finally had to give up and just do a search for it to find it.

It’s the #5 TV show in the US when I checked the top 10 on the interface yesterday.

Maybe this is off-topic, but where did you find the Top 10 on the interface? I couldn’t find it anywhere. I kept going down categories until it looped me back around. And on the left side interface, the categories were things like TV and Movies, so I looked under TV, and looped all the way down there as well and a Top 10 wasn’t any of the categories there either.

(Clarification: Apple TV interface).