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Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai

Gremlins Secrets of the Mogwai Max





Kristin Smith

TV Series Review

Ten-year-old Sam Wing is going to be a doctor when he grows up. 

Good doctors are calculated, honest, and intelligent. Some even have 21-year-plans, just like Sam. Rarely do they take risks. At least this is how Sam’s parents, who are also doctors, see it. 

But nothing could be more abhorrent to Sam’s elderly, slightly cuckoo grandfather than not taking risks. How boring. After all, life is full of magic and adventure. You just have to open your eyes to see it all around you. 

This is what he tells Sam one day as they take a slight detour to a shady part of Shanghai where a carnival is taking place and a cute little cat/dog is being paraded around. 

Only it’s not a cat/dog. It’s the rarest and most deceptively cute mystical creature on the face of the earth: a Mogwai. And its name is Gizmo. 

And because Gizmo is now in Shanghai, the entire world is unsafe. 

The only way to save humanity–to not relive the past when China nearly burned to the ground from the Mogwai’s wrath–is to get Gizmo safely back to his land in the Valley of Jade. 

Good thing Sam’s grandfather knows how to get there. But the journey will not be easy. It will be fraught with danger, completely unpredictable and the adventure of a lifetime.

And if Sam can put aside his calculated life plan, he and his grandfather may have a shot at returning Gizmo before evil forces take Gizmo for their own. 

Mystical, Cute and Furry

The idea of a gremlin was actually popularized during World War II. If an airplane engine wasn’t working or a part went missing, soldiers and airmen would blame these tiny, made up creatures. Later, Roald Dahl released a book in 1943 about these same mischievous, fictional monsters. Then even further down the line in 1984, Steven Spielberg produced a black comedy horror film titled Gremlins

Now, HBO Max–now just called Max–has released their own version with none other than Steven Spielberg called Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai

This TV-PG series is a prequel of sorts to the 1984 film (and its sequels). And, so far, it’s not much like the movies. For starters, it’s set in Shanghai in the 1920s. It’s also not rooted in horror. Yes, these little creatures can get downright insane and even a bit scary when provoked. But in this iteration, a little helpless Mogwai is simply trying to get back home after being ousted from his land by a giant bird. 

Of course, there are some evildoers that know of the Mogwai’s power, and they’re trying to take him for their own. Which is why the main characters set off to make things right. In that respect, this is then more of an adventure series. 

Having just watched the first episode, I can tell you that a few scenes are too intense for the littlest of viewers. We also hear a few unkind phrases, plenty of discussions and interactions with magic and monsters and all sorts of things one might see when traveling the world into mythical parts unknown. 

And Sam’s grandfather, while he loves Sam very much, constantly goes against Sam’s parents and encourages Sam to dive head first into everything–including mischief and whatever it takes to return Gizmo. 

But if your family can navigate those concerns, this show is funny, exciting, and–at least compared to the original film–relatively light-hearted.

Episode Reviews

May 23, 2023–S1, Ep1: “Never Get Them Wet”

Sam Wing learns what a Mogwai is, and he and his grandfather vow to return Gizmo to his homeland. 

Sam’s grandfather tells Sam that only some magic is “dark and scary,” while the rest of it is light and intriguing. Sam’s grandfather wants calculated Sam to live a life of adventure, and he always asks him crazy questions like “how many monsters did you capture today?”

Gizmo fights for his life and knocks a bird out with a stick–the same bird that tried to eat some of his people. Sam’s grandfather pulls out a knife and attempts to use it but his back gives out. An evil man threatens a young girl and tries to capture Gizmo.  

We hear two phrases: “oh my gosh” and “gawking idiots”.

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Kristin Smith

Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).

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