With Avengers: Endgame star Robert Downey Jr. attached as an executive producer, Sweet Tooth – an adaptation of Jeff Lemire’s Vertigo Comics series of the same name and developed by Jim Mickle – has received more attention than it otherwise might have done. That’s certainly not a bad thing, though, because it would be a mistake to overlook what quickly proves to be an entertaining and surprisingly timely story that’s vastly better than some of Netflix’s other comic book TV shows (here’s looking at you, Jupiter’s Legacy).
Set in a world where a virus has laid waste to humanity and children have been born part-human, part-animal, Sweet Tooth focuses on a hybrid deer-boy named Gus as he’s forced to leave the safety of home and team up with an unlikely, and unwilling, partner in Jepperd, a former pro football player looking to escape his dark past. As they travel across America, a bond is formed, and Gus learns more about the world than he ever expected, all while attempting to reunite with his mother.
It’s a fairly standard, familiar premise, but one that works well here, and it’s definitely a relief to see this series head down a lighter route than the comics. Those got very dark in places, and Sweet Tooth wouldn’t have been anywhere near as enjoyable to watch had we been forced to contend with some of what happened on the page.
Instead, there’s quite a bit of humour to be found, and heaps of charming characters ensure that we quickly fall in love with the two leads and the dynamic that develops between them. For those of you worrying that this is a kid’s show, rest assured that it does get dark in places, tackling difficult moral decisions for characters and some badass, brutal fight scenes.
Sweet Tooth manages to cram a lot into these opening eight episodes, and that’s a detriment to it at times. The show tends to feel a little scattershot in places, focusing on characters who initially feel like random inclusions before all the pieces start falling into place later on.
That can be annoying when you initially just want to follow “Sweet Tooth” and “Big Man,” and how much you care about those supporting players is likely to vary (Adeel Akhtar is very good as Dr. Aditya Singh, but the show really didn’t need to devote so much time to making him sympathetic).
The key issue is that this approach to storytelling means it occasionally takes too long for us to get invested in their stories, with Dania Ramirez’s Aimee a perfect example of that in the first few instalments. Oh, and if we’re going to nitpick, James Brolin’s narration feels wholly unnecessary and a tad too cheesy (sorry, James!).
There’s a lot to love about this series, including some great visuals – shooting in New Zealand guarantees those – a compelling plot, and well-crafted action. However, it’s the cast we were most impressed by, with young Christian Convery delivering a star-making performance as Gus.
Sweet, sharp as a tack, and extremely likeable, he bounces well off Game of Thrones alum Nonso Anozie, an actor who effortlessly establishes himself as leading man material here. Will Forte is a pleasant surprise, and Stefania LaVie Owen also manages to impress.
It’s The Flash’s Neil Sandilands who deserves a special mention because while his role as the villainous General Abbot is limited in this first season, he steals the show in every scene he appears in, and is a completely different, and fully unrecognisable, big bad compared to The Thinker. Seeing the actor peel back more of Abbot’s layers in future promises to be a real treat.
Much of Sweet Tooth’s first season is setting the stage for what comes next, and the finale does a great job of laying the groundwork for a second batch of episodes we want right now. This feels like a series that has a lot of potential moving forward, and while this first chapter mostly lays the groundwork for that, it’s exciting to think of all the places this tale could go next.
After all, it’s hard to find a comic book TV show that doesn’t feel instantly familiar these days, so the fact Sweet Tooth is so different (outside of that familiar odd-couple road trip) makes it a pleasure to watch, and you definitely shouldn’t pass on the opportunity to take to the road with these two.
Source – comicbookmovie