Should You Watch October Faction?
I guess I have been busy because I completely missed the news that The October Faction was becoming a show. Had I known, I would have been excited and highly anticipating a live-action version of the comic. But instead, just like countless others, I got a notification from Netflix that “October Faction is now streaming on Netflix” and freaked out. So I made time to sit down and watch Episode 1: Presidio. Hopefully, my thoughts can help guide you on whether to check it out or not.
The October Faction comic is about a retired monster hunter and his spooky and supernatural family. The show is about monster-hunting parents and their teenage twins dealing with family drama. I didn’t think much of the difference between the two synopses, but there is a difference. In the show, parents Fred and Deloris work for a secret agency that quietly battles monsters. The twins, Viv and Geoff, don’t know about the monsters or what their parents do. The family travels a lot, and the twins, although very intelligent, don’t have people skills. The family returns to the town Fred and Deloris grew up in, and drama ensues.
My first issue with the show is, unfortunately, the casting and writing of Fred. The character comes off as an emotional nerdy dad, which would be fine if the show wasn’t about a spooky monster-hunting family. He’s not cool, spooky or funny. I think Fred should be the centerpiece of the whole show, but he is the weakest character. Perhaps the character grows as the season goes on, but he is a 40-50-year-old man and has been a monster hunter for some time from the looks of it. There should already be some grit or character there from his life experiences so far.
Although the show is about monster hunters, there is minimal action or horror. The show is mostly uncompelling drama. In a science fiction show, we want to see the supernatural. We get a taste of what the show could be like from the brief first scene and then a little more before the first episode ends. The episode is 49 minutes, and about 15% of it is supernatural. There can be comedy and drama in sci-fi shows like Buffy or The X-Files, but it has to be part of a complete package to work. We do come to understand that there is a lot of drama and issues surrounding the family, and we should expect it to be a significant part of the show. It also seems like the drama will always be getting in the way of any monster hunting.
In the show, the family is interracial, which wouldn’t have mattered to me. It’s clear that Fred is married to Deloris, and they have twins, and not everyone’s skin is the same color in their family. They did bring it up more than once, though, including a scene devoted entirely to racism towards Deloris in their hometown. Dedicating time to acknowledge the fact that the family is interracial and that the world they live in along with the family themselves seem to be bothered by that took me out of the show more than once. It just seemed strange in the debut episode of a spooky show. Perhaps though this will be an ongoing topic, and an issue they delve deeper into as the season goes on. In the first episode, though, it just kind of compounded things.
We get to learn a little bit about the family in this episode, but that’s about it. There is more to learn about the secret organization the family works for, the war between humans and monsters, and what exactly is going on with Fred’s childhood home. The problem is the impression that I got didn’t give me any reason to come back for another episode. The show wasn’t funny or exciting or interesting yet. The characters aren’t likable so far, except for Deloris, but that’s all we know about them. The show has the feel of an R rated Disney channel show where the parents are spies, which I don’t want to see. I’m not sure who the target audience is, but despite having the personality of a CW sci-fi show, the characters use coarse language, and we get to see a high school sex act. This episode also seemingly spends the most time on Fred and Deloris getting wasted. There is a great scene in the middle of the show that demonstrates how the rest of the show could be while at the same time making the rest of it look worse. It’s got humor and suspense during a face off between Fred and another man in a grocery store. The other guy steals the scene, but it’s unlikely he’ll be making another appearance.
Overall, I just wasn’t wowed by the episode. I wanted to be completely enamored with a show that has a concept right up my alley and from a comic I enjoy, but it didn’t happen. Rather than being dark or gritty, the show is goofy and sassy. I would say if you like family dramas or some CW shows, this may be for you. Remember though: it’s a family of interracial sometimes monster hunters with a lot of issues and drama because that seems to be important. It’s also for mature audiences so kids will see some things they probably shouldn’t. I would try Haunting of Hill House, The Umbrella Academy, or The Incredibles 2 for sci-fi family drama before spending time on October Faction. I give the first episode 2 out of 5 ripped off Guardians of the Galaxy jokes.