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'The Mysterious Benedict Society': Television Review

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In the first two episodes of THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY, four orphans pass a series of strange tests designed by a truth-seeking scientist who sends them under-cover to an exclusive boarding school to find the mastermind who’s feeding lies to humanity through the media. Streaming on Disney Plus, the first two episodes of THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY are humorous, whimsical and lots of fun and seem to tell a strong Christian allegory with strong moral values promoting truth, good over evil, helping others, empathy, fellowship, and integrity.

The series opens with a 12-year-old boy, Reynie (pronounced “Rennie”) Muldoon, living in an orphanage. Bullied by his peers and constantly bombarded in the news by something called “The Emergency,” Reynie an uncommon ability to resist anxious thoughts and to think clearly. After receiving an advertisement for a scholarship to a prestigious school, Reynie competes in a strange series of tests against numerous other children. Reynie and two other children, Kate Weatherall and George “Sticky” Washington, win the final test by ringing a bell together instead of separately.

The three children are taken to Nicholas Benedict, a disheveled but brilliant scientist who introduces them to a fourth child, a younger girl with a German accent named Constance Contraire. Benedict admits to the children he deceived them, that there is no scholarship. Instead, he wants them to infiltrate a children’s academy called The Learning Institute of Veritas and Enlightenment, or L.I.V.E. He tells them someone from the Institute is sending subliminal messages through all TV, video and radio signals that’s creating fear and anxiety around the world. He believes the signals are causing The Emergency, which appears to be creating a total financial breakdown.

The first half of the second episode shows Kate, with help from Benedict’s mysterious bodyguard, Milligan, foiling an attempt to kidnap Benedict. The second half shows the four children starting classes at the Institute, which is located on a special island. At the end of the episode, they finally meet the headmaster, a man calling himself L.D. Curtain, who, except for a more styled hairdo and beard, has the same face as Mr. Benedict. (Note: At the beginning of the third episode, they learn that Curtain is Benedict’s long-lost brother.)

The first two episodes of THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY are humorous, whimsical and lots of fun. The series has high production values. The children actors are all very good. Tony Hale, who also produces the series and helped develop the series for tele-vision, is a hoot as Nicholas Benedict and Headmaster Curtain. Kristen Schaal and Ryan Hurst are very entertaining as Benedict’s two assistants.

So far, THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY seems to possess allegorical Chris-tian elements. The major redemptive themes include a worldwide war between good and evil, adoption into a family, having a higher purpose in life, and a “great commission” or mission to share an invisible truth to those who don’t see it.

The first two episodes also possesses strong moral elements. They extol truth, integrity, empathy, friendship, and teamwork. The episodes also teach children to do hard things, to be brave in the face of fear, to show leadership, and to act in the interest of others even in the face of danger. It calls children to be different and to believe that, even though they are small, they are still valuable and are still needed to bring truth and light to the world.

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY is void of any offensive content. There is some light violence and jeopardy, including the attempted abduction of Mr. Benedict. While this violence and jeopardy may upset a few sensitive children, it furthers the program’s allegorical elements, demonstrating that seeking truth and overcoming evil are not an easy pursuit void of persecution and problems.

THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY is a quality production for viewers of all ages. It has the power to teach and remind both children and parents that the meaning of life isn’t self-fulfillment, money or happiness, but fighting for other people, even when they don’t know they need help. It is to spread the truth to those who need it, as well as a re-minder that God will use the most unlikely people in the most unlikely ways to accomplish His mission.

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MOVIEGUIDE® was founded in 1985 by Dr. Ted Baehr, past president of the Episcopal Radio & Television Foundation and former director of the Television Center at the City University of New York. MOVIEGUIDE® is affiliated with the Christian Film & Television Commission® ministry (CFTVC). Both MOVIEGUIDE® and CFTVC are dedicated to redeeming the values of the entertainment industry, according to biblical principles, by influencing industry executives and artists and by informing and educating the public about the influence of the entertainment media and about how to train their families to become