“Four Kids and a Dog” gets Netflix’s new Indian horror series off to a strong start, introducing its various elements and some tantalizing mysteries that are sure to unravel as things progress.
This recap of Typewriter Season 1, Episode 1, “Four Kids and a Dog”, contains spoilers. You can check out our spoiler-free review of the entire first season by clicking these words.
In a creepily-effective 1983-set opening, Typewriter Episode 1, “Four Kids and a Dog”, sets the tone for what’s to come. In his sprawling, rackety mansion, novelist Madhav (Kanwaljit Singh) puts his granddaughter to bed despite protestations that she hears crying in her room. She does, of course — this is a horror show, after all — but their source isn’t what you might expect. Under her bed, her eerie doppelganger huddles, terrified.
It’s a good start. In the present day, we briefly meet the Ghost Club — Sameera (Aarna Sharma), Gablu (Mikail Gandhi), Bunty (Palash Kamble), and their dog, Buddy — and their boathouse hideout with its cranky caretaker. Living up to their title, the Ghost Club is looking for a ghost, and the Bardez Villa seems a good place to find one. But the plan is complicated by a family moving in: Jenny Fernandes (Palomi Ghosh) is the granddaughter of the novelist we met in the prologue, and is returning to her childhood home with her architect husband Peter (Samir Kochhar), their teenage daughter Anya (Sara Gesawat) and their younger son, Nick (Aaryansh Malviya). The legacy of whatever mysterious tragedy occurred there years ago still looms large; in the house itself, in The Ghost of Sultanpore, the Madhav novel that Nick reads, and in the Remington typewriter left behind in the house.
An unassuming, bespectacled man is looking for that typewriter in “Four Kids and a Dog”, having promised to pay a slow-witted man to steal it. Their tense bathroom exchange is ill-fitting, tone-wise, to what we’ve seen before in Typewriter Season 1, Episode 1, full of adult language and culminating in violence that is a bit at odds with the Scooby Gang shenanigans and the played-out haunted-house tropes.
Also of note in Typewriter Episode 1 is the sweet relationship between Sameera and her police officer father Ravi Anand (Purab Kohli). Deviations like a random nighttime jump-scare with Nick stood at his parents’ bedside make “Four Kids and a Dog” feel a bit thinly spread, but these core relationships are much better; central to what worked about Stranger Things, clearly a big influence, and also key in making the show’s horror elements actually matter.
Jenny goes to see Ravi in the hopes of tracking down her old nanny, Nanny, but with details that vague, it’s a lost cause. But it helps to bring Ravi into the plot as more than just Sameera’s father, as does him heading out to investigate the drunk who died, apparently quite accidentally, in the local bar. Fortunately, for suspense purposes, the perpetrator is already known to the audience — and he becomes known to the Ghost Club in “Four Kids and a Dog”, too, when he introduces himself as Amit Roy, their new teacher.
While investigating the death, Ravi asks an older local about Jenny’s old nanny, whose name is revealed to be Sara. A big exposition dump follows, but it’s an interesting one. Sara stayed behind in the house after the suspicious death of Jenny’s mother, Carol, in order to care for the girl; her husband allegedly supplied Madhav, who was at the time very powerful, with dead bodies from the hospital for the purposes of occult research. The author — apparently not the kindly grandfather introduced at the beginning of Typewriter Episode 1 — was obsessed with the subject, and potentially quite mad. Sara is now missing, and so is her estranged husband, but there’s a strong suggestion in “Four Kids and a Dog” that he’s the boathouse keeper whose facilities the Ghost Club frequently abuse.
Typewriter Season 1, Episode 1 ends ominously, with Madhav’s old typewriter clacking away by itself — “Ghosts do exist”, it types, in response to Jenny’s insistence that they don’t — and Jenny’s doppelganger looming over her bed as she sleeps.