As a long-time fan of the Child’s Play/Chucky film series (essentially, I’m an “old” who begged her mom to take her to see the original in theaters and have been following along ever since), I was extremely curious about how well everyone’s favorite possessed foul-mouthed killer Good Guy doll would work in a television format. As it turns out, pretty damn well, as Don Mancini’s new Chucky series is an absolute treat for those of us who adore this series, but these first few episodes are “open” enough to welcome in newcomers to the franchise as well, which isn’t always an easy thing to achieve when you’re working with a property that not only has such involved storylines like the Child’s Play/Chucky ones do, but also has such a huge influence on the history of modern horror where you’re going to have to live up to genre fans’ lofty expectations. So in that regard, Mancini has pulled off something rather miraculous with Chucky, and these first four episodes have me extremely hyped for what’s to come in the next four episodes as well.
While I wouldn’t dream of revealing any spoilers here, I’ll give you just a brief rundown of what to expect from the Chucky series in these first few episodes. At the start, we’re introduced to a middle schooler named Jake (Zackary Arthur) who is having a rough go of it. He’s constantly being bullied at school by “mean girl” Lexy (Alyvia Alyn-Lind) who also happens to be the girlfriend of Jake’s cousin Junior (Teo Briones), his alcoholic dad won’t accept Jake’s sexual orientation nor his penchant for the arts, and Jake is being tortured by a serious case of unrequited love that he’s unable to act upon. At a yard sale in his neighborhood, Jake comes across a Good Guy doll named Chucky that he buys in hopes of turning it into his latest art project, but is surprised to discover that the toy is actually alive when he can’t figure out a way to dismantle it. And as you can imagine, that’s when the real ride begins in Chucky.
I think what I liked best about this new iteration of Chucky is how well it falls into place with the tone established in Mancini’s film series but also, the structure of the storytelling here works incredibly well as a compelling one-hour weekly show. I do think the first episode takes a little time to get going, but by episode two, I was completely on board with this story and I loved how as these episodes progress, we get even more dimensionality to the character of Charles Lee Ray than we’ve seen previously. Also, and I have to mention this because I will forever sing the praises for Seed of Chucky, but at one point Chucky indirectly mentions Glen/Glenda during a heart-to-heart with Jake, and honestly, that just made me so happy as a fan.
I was also pretty thrilled with how well Mancini balanced out the nods to the Chucky-verse but also creates this new story at the same time, and there are even some other homages to other horror properties as well (one character’s name is definitely pulled from the original Halloween II, and we get a touch of the Suspiria score in an episode as well, to name a few), making Chucky not only a kickass celebration of what we love about this franchise, but the horror genre as a whole. Mancini has given us a real gift here.
As mentioned, I’m a pretty big fan of everything we see in these first four episodes, but I will say that it is in episode four where it feels like a huge turning point for the show, and I am genuinely giddy about where the story is heading from here. There are some fantastic set pieces in these episodes as well (one death, in particular, resulted in me shouting loudly at my television, “Oh, holy shit!” which then woke up my two dogs), and we also have a Halloween-themed episode too, and honestly, just having our beloved holiday incorporated into the series like that also felt like a huge treat (no trick!) and when Chucky runs amok in that episode specifically, I had a big, goofy grin on my face the entire time.
Also, it’s worth noting that when it comes to the magical effects that bring Chucky to life, the series doesn’t hold back in that regard either. We get a lot of Chucky action, which is awesome, and I love Mancini’s commitment to keeping the art of practical effects alive here. Oh, and kudos to Alterian Studios’ Peter A. Chevako who took lead on Chucky’s design and puppeteering as well as François Dagenais who was the special makeup effects designer for the Chucky series.
While I’m still waiting to see just how exactly Chucky is going to line up with the events of Cult of Chucky, so far I’m enjoying the ride that Mancini has taken us on thus far, and beyond the final four episodes of this first season, I hope the series and its titular anti-hero get to return for a second season because I definitely want the opportunity to enjoy more mayhem from this series in the future. Plus, I think having numerous one-hour episodes of Chucky as opposed to just one 90-minute movie gives Mancini a ton of leeway to really let loose and give us fans all the killer Good Guy action that we could ever want (and more).