Year:  2024

Director:  Various

Release:  Out Now

Distributor: Netflix

Running time: 1 hour x 8 episodes

Worth: $14.50
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George Rexstrew, Kassius Nelson, Jayden Revri, Yuyu Kitamara, Ruth Connell

… formulaic but comfortably familiar, and all the more enjoyable because of it.

Another dose of mischief and mayhem from the mind of Neil Gaiman, the Dead Boy Detectives made their first appearance in the iconic Sandman comics in 1991, before spinning off into their own limited issue mini-series. In a case of art imitating… other art, Netflix has just given a home to the live-action incarnation of these wayward ghostly teens after the highly anticipated 2022 adaptation of Gaiman’s Sandman proved to be a success.

The path to making a good spin-off is rocky and tough to navigate. It’s becoming rare to see any attempts last beyond their first or second season. The key is balancing the original property with its existing fanbase while at the same time creating something unique that will attract new audiences.

After a shaky first episode packed full of the necessary exposition and clumsy world-building, Dead Boy Detectives quickly finds its footing and manages to offer up both a sufficient homage to its source material and a new narrative full of teen angst, hellish horrors and quirky, dreamlike elements that is worthy of being judged on its own merit.

Following the story of two teen detectives who just happen to be ghosts, Charles (Jayden Revri) and Edwin (George Rexstrew) tangle with a host of monsters-of-the-week and help other lost souls find closure (for a fee of course), all the while outrunning Death in an attempt to keep her from sending them to their FINAL resting place. Along the way, they meet clairvoyant Crystal Palace (Kassius Nelson) who needs help dealing with a pesky demon possession, and her neighbour Niko (Yuyu Kitamura), the pure-hearted comic relief.

Of course, there are the expected (and unexpected) familiar faces dropping in along the way to remind us all that we’re still in the Sandman universe, but it’s the brand new supporting characters who really steal the show—stand outs are Tragic Mick (Michael Beach), a walrus cursed to take human form who runs the local magic shop, and the delightfully chaotic Cat King (Lukas Gage), a shapeshifter who takes enormous pleasure in making Edwin’s unlife (and burgeoning sexuality) a lot more complicated.

While Gaiman himself had enough on his plate juggling the Sandman and Good Omens adaptations, the Dead Boy Detectives showrunner reins have been passed to Steve Yockey (The Flight Attendant, Supernatural), who in turn has brought an army of Supernatural alumni on board. With a creative team well-versed in paranormal detective duos, the result is formulaic but comfortably familiar, and all the more enjoyable because of it.