‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ series review: Finally a show that does Seaweed Brain and friends justice

Hitting the right notes of adventure, magic, myth and monsters, this tale of a demigod coming of age, based on Rick Riordan’s hectically popular books, is a hugely enjoyable treat 

Updated - December 23, 2023 07:08 pm IST

Published - December 23, 2023 06:18 pm IST

A still from ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’

A still from ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief came out in 2010, and despite being a successful film, was met with mixed feelings. Directed by Chris Columbus, who had directed the first two Harry Potter films, and starring A-listers including Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan and Uma Thurman, the film was slammed by critics and fans of the popular fantasy novel series it was based on. Author Rick Riordan also had nothing nice to say about it.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians (English)
Creators: Rick Riordan, Jonathan E. Steinberg
Cast: Walker Scobell, Leah Sava Jeffries, Aryan Simhadri, Virginia Kull, Glynn Turman, Jason Mantzoukas, Megan Mullally, Timm Sharp, Dior Goodjohn, Charlie Bushnell, Adam Copeland
Episodes: 4 of 8
Run-time: 33 to 44 minutes
Storyline: Percy Jackson, a newly claimed demigod, has to stop the end of the world by finding and recovering Zeus’ Master Bolt that he has been accused of stealing

When news of a reboot came, it was met with cautious optimism, especially since Riordan had pitched the treatment and was listed as co-creator and executive producer. The four episodes available for review conclusively prove that the hope was not misplaced.

Percy (Walker Scobell) is a far from normal 12-year-old, who struggles to fit in with his classmates. School would have been a succession of miseries if it were not for Grover (Aryan Simhadri), who befriends Percy assuring him it is perfectly alright to see a rhinoceros plodding down a busy street or have visions of a scary-looking minotaur charging at him in white underpants.  

Things get weirder still on a class trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Sympathetic Mr. Brunner (Glynn Turman), Percy’s Latin teacher, gives him a pen, saying it is a powerful weapon — the pen, which is a sword called Riptide, is most definitely mighty. On the other hand, Mrs. Dodds (Megan Mullally), his algebra teacher, reveals herself to Percy as a Fury serving the lord of the underworld, Hades. When Percy seemingly pushes the class bully into the fountain, he is sent off home.

Percy’s annoying, dim-witted step-father Gabe (Timm Sharp) gloats at his latest misfortune. Percy’s mum, Sally (Virginia Kull), however, is more understanding, and suggests a weekend in their cabin in Montauk to talk things over.  

There is, however, no time for peace and quiet for the great reveal of Percy’s father—the Greek god Poseidon or Grover being a satyr and his protector, as the minotaur, complete with underpants is on their trail. Percy and Grover barely manage to get into Camp Half-Blood, a safe haven for demigods, though Sally is not so lucky.

At Camp Half-Blood, Percy meets Annabeth (Leah Sava Jeffries), the daughter of Athena, as well as Mr D. Dionysus (Jason Mantzoukas), the irritable camp director. Clarisse (Dior Goodjohn), the daughter of Ares, is a bully, while Luke (Charlie Bushnell), the son of Hermes, shows Percy around. Percy’s father claims him and Percy also learns that he has a week to stop the end of the world by finding Zeus’s stolen Master Bolt, which the King of Gods has accused Percy of stealing.

It is time for the cross-country trip from New York to Los Angeles, with stops along the way in the gnome emporium and meetings with a certain gorgon with a killer stare (Jessica Parker Kennedy), the terrifyingly sweet mother of monsters, Echidna (Suzanne Cryer), and the horrific chimera.

The action, especially the one involving the chimera on the train, is breathtaking, and the production design, starting with the lovely Art Deco iconography of the title sequence, is eye-wateringly stunning. The talented cast from the triad of Scobell, Jeffries and Simhadri, to Sharp, is effortlessly charming.

Following the light tone of the novels, mixed with magic, myth, monsters, and the terrors and delights of growing up, Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a delightful take on the novels.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians currently streams on Disney+ Hotstar with fresh episodes dropping every Wednesday till January 31, 2024

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