Lockwood and Co Season 1 Review – stylish, atmospheric, and very British teen fantasy

By Jonathon Wilson
Published: January 26, 2023 (Last updated: January 10, 2024)
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Lockwood and Co Season 1 Review - stylish, atmospheric, and very British teen fantasy
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Summary

Lockwood & Co. manages to stand out even in such an overpopulated genre thanks to its shabby British charm, strong atmosphere, and compelling world and characters.

This review of the Netflix series Lockwood and Co Season 1 does not contain spoilers.

It’s difficult to get excited about another supernatural teen drama on Netflix these days. The streamer is full of them. And there’s no wonder, really, since the formula seems pretty foolproof – you pay some modest bucks to a handful of good-looking young stars, you stick them in a so-so story about werewolves or witches or secret societies or some such, and then you let Twitter and TikTok do the marketing work for you. You can even cancel the thing and it won’t go away, such is the indefatigable power of ardent always-online fanbases of a certain age. I’m reasonably sure I could live the rest of my life not having to watch another of these things, but, for what it’s worth, I’m happy I watched Lockwood & Co. either way.

Lockwood and Co Season 1 review and plot summary

There’s an awareness from the very first scene of this eight-episode series that it’s a slight cut above its contemporaries. It looks a little more expensive, has a slightly richer atmosphere, is more economical with its worldbuilding, and contains more than a few surprises. And it’s pretty blasé about all this. It has a confidence and an easy-going, distinctly British charm that could veer on pretension if it wasn’t so nattily written. As things stand, though, it’s content to be better than any number of similar shows without telling you, since it’s confident you’ll find out on your own.

Based on Jonathan Stroud’s beloved young-adult novel series, and adapted for the screen by Joe Cornish of Attack the Block acclaim, Lockwood & Co. has a problem, and I mean that in-universe. It’s built around the idea of an alternate reality where the dead, known as “visitors”, return at night to haunt the living, brought forth by and connected intimately to a “source”. Everyone refers to this as, simply, “The Problem”, which is pretty apt. But folks have mostly gotten used to it. It’s one of those things that has gone on for so long that society has reshaped to accommodate it. Here, it’s not unusual for two kids carrying rapiers, iron chains, and homemade bombs to answer newspaper ads looking for ghost hunters, and cleverly, all ghost hunters must necessarily be kids, since only they can sense the visitors and fight them off.

READ: Best Fantasy TV Shows on Netflix in 2023

With this premise, Stroud built a logical reason for children and teenagers to be at the forefront of the action. The story revolves primarily around three of them: Lucy Carlyle (Ruby Stokes), a gifted “listener” and general chosen-one type who flees to London following a mission gone bad; Anthony Lockwood (Cameron Chapman), the enigmatic heir to a rackety property from which he runs the titular agency; and George Karim (Ali Hadji-Heshmati), Anthony’s socially inept but brilliant researcher. Together they share a lot of chemistry and also a fair amount of tortured backstory that, along with some quite legitimately scary ghost encounters and niftily choreographed action sequences, makes Lockwood & Co. seem, like its characters, older than its years.

But the real beauty of the series is its obvious disdain for exposition. This is a show that trusts its audience, and that’s a welcome, rare thing. It presents far-out ideas and concepts as though they’re totally everyday and allows us to figure out what they are and what they mean, connecting snippets of dialogue with visual storytelling until the pieces click neatly together. But at the same time, it never pretends that any of this is normal, and doesn’t present its younger characters as superhumans. Some of the encounters might be a little traumatic for us, but they’re much more so for Lucy, Anthony, and George themselves, who are all put through the wringer by a world that has thrust youngsters to the forefront of its most dangerous new profession.

Consider, for instance, Lockwood himself, who is a smug, handsome teenager who at multiple points hints at a past littered with unresolved trauma, including flirtations with suicide. He’s aloof but legitimately alone, and while he has a quip for every occasion, you can always tell that his arrogance and recklessness are masking real pain. Lucy is the same, having been failed by a horrible mother and a cowardly superior, looking for connection, purpose, and a way to atone for her past failings in a misfit crew that can operate without any adult supervision – for better and for worse.

Is Lockwood and Co good?

With its strong sense of character, economic storytelling, rip-roaring action, and genuinely compelling world, Lockwood & Co. is a sure-fire hit for Netflix, immediately comparable to something like The Bastard Son and the Devil Himself, another very British fantasy streaming series, though ideally, it won’t enjoy the same fate. While the comparisons and influences are too numerous to list, there’s a shabby, lived-in charm to this series that keeps it feeling distinct even among Netflix’s most well-stocked thumbnails. And if that isn’t an achievement, I don’t know what is.

What did you think of Lockwood and Co. Season 1? Comment below.


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Netflix, Streaming Service, TV, TV Reviews
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