The Inbestigators review: Where Sherlock Holmes meets Young Sheldon

The Inbestigators review: Where Sherlock Holmes meets Young Sheldon

In a digital space increasingly populated by darkness, sleaze, action and goriness, The Inbestigators is an innocent peek into the existence of four 10-year-old kids at school. The series revolves around an investigative agency that four school-going kids Ava, Maudie, Ezra and Kyle establish to add diversity to their profile (they're serious about it), spend some quality time together and possibly earn something in exchange for the work they do (mostly pancakes). The best part about the series is its uninhibited storyteller letting the children be themselves on the screen. As much as the series captures their wacky sense of humour and unpredictability to showcasing their animated reactions and addressing their complexities at school, The Inbestigators respects their intelligence and it's a relief. The writing is relevant for a school-going child and manages to be equally nostalgic for the adult without playing it silly. The protagonists aren't cute caricatures but behave like kids, talk like them. The cinematic premise apart, nothing of their world looks staged. While Ezra, Ava and Kyle are the more relatable kids, Maudie is more or less a female equivalent of Young Sheldon. She's smart beyond her age, her friends find her amusing and her poker-faced responses to conversations don't help much. Every episode in this ten-part series is about a bunch of complications to which the kids have an answer. Each episode unfolds like a news-bulletin where every member takes turns to announce the incidents they had investigated through the week. The 'investigations' are quite easy on the eye - from tracking the person who had intentionally left the sprinkler open in a neighbour's garden for 42 hours, to decoding the unlikely truth about a surprise winner in the 100m race, to that classmate behind the mysterious disappearance of the solar-system science model et al. Though it's formula-driven and may not work for a binge-watch (given its circular narration), the writers do their best to keep the backdrop organic. Friendship, consent, betrayal and self-realisation are the few tropes the makers keep going back to. The characterisation is precise and sharp, the intentions are sincere and there are no snide or problematic sugar-coating. It is more or less free from specific regional references, ensuring its universality. For a show helmed by four directors (Wayne Hope, Robyn Butler, Ian Reiser, Nina Buxton), its intentions are pretty consistent. However, the series loses its spunky quality in last few episodes - the ones that involve the loss of a drone, a hat and the birthday cake (in the finale) only indicate their loss of ideas. Another issue with the series is its lack of originality - the 'Sherlock Holmes in the garb of Young Sheldon' scenario plays up on your mind rather too much. And 'The Inbestigators' is no match to Young Sheldon regardless of all the good it does. While Maudie is essentially the smartest character, the most child-like, likeable character is Kyle, played reassuringly by child-actor Jamil Smyth-Secka. Abby Bergman as Ava Andrikides fulfils the dramatic quotient of the series to perfection and Aston Droomer in the shoes of Ezra has a comfortable screen-presence too. The Inbestigators has a lot going for it - the natural performances, the crisp narration, its effort to keep things real but only if these were helped by depth. Rating: 2.5/5 (Watch the series here)



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