Plugged In Pick, TV: The Mysterious Benedict Society

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The book was better.

We bibliophiles use that cliché with as much regularity as IT professionals say, “Restart your computer first.” And, of course when it comes to popular entertainment, it’s often true. Case in point: The Hobbit.

But is it always true?

I ask because our TV pick this month is Disney+’s The Mysterious Benedict Society, based on a quartet of children’s books of the same name by Trenton Lee Stewart. Our reviewer Lauren Cook was intimately familiar with the books as well. And while she won’t definitively say which she enjoyed more, Lauren was impressed how much the show reflected the books’ characters—and character.

That character, by the way, includes plenty of great lessons related to honesty, kindness and humility—underrated values today. And while the show isn’t perfect (read our full review for more), it’s certainly the cream of this month’s television crop.

Paul Asay

Paul Asay has been part of the Plugged In staff since 2007, watching and reviewing roughly 15 quintillion movies and television shows. He’s written for a number of other publications, too, including Time, The Washington Post and Christianity Today. The author of several books, Paul loves to find spirituality in unexpected places, including popular entertainment, and he loves all things superhero. His vices include James Bond films, Mountain Dew and terrible B-grade movies. He’s married, has two children and a neurotic dog, runs marathons on occasion and hopes to someday own his own tuxedo. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @AsayPaul.

2 Responses

  1. -Would definitely say the books are much, much better than this series! (Certainly, not the best book-to-movie adaption in the world). Even if you choose to watch the series, please read the books first. You will be thankful you did.

  2. -I think of the series is as “based on the books by Trenton Lee Stewart” the same way some movies are “based on a true story.” The books are the inspiration for the series rather than the series bring a faithful adaptation of the books.

    It is a fun show but I feel we lose a lot of the character development and growth of the children that the books focused on. Stewart used the books to treat children as complex characters with growth and change and real internal struggles. Every one of them had to challenge their beliefs and learn to fit new truths into their view of the world and themselves.

    These books made it clear that kids grapple with big issues every bit as much as adults. Not because the adults aren’t competent but because children are ultimately the same as adults and we do everyone a disservice to act like they are different at their core.

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