Dead Boy Detectives Review

Dead Boy Detectives
Best buddies Edwin Paine (George Rexstrew) and Charles Rowland (Jayden Revri) skip the afterlife to stay on Earth together and solve paranormal mysteries with a psychic named Crystal Palace (Kassius Nelson). But things get complicated when a powerful witch shows up in town with a nefarious agenda of her own.

by David Opie |
Published on

Streaming on: Netflix

Episodes viewed: 8 of 8

The Dead Boy Detectives are defiant in the face of death — it's their whole shtick — yet it's still a miracle that their show survived long enough to reach this point. Starting out as minor comic-book characters in Neil Gaiman's Sandman, the ghostly duo eventually guest-starred in TV's Doom Patrol, but their proposed spin-off was then shunted from HBO Max to Netflix, and the boys themselves were recast too, replacing Ty Tennant and Heartstopper's Sebastian Croft with newcomers George Rexstrew and Jayden Revri.

Dead Boy Detectives

Yet, despite all that and a wobbly first episode aside, Dead Boy Detectives is remarkably sure of itself. Once the premise is established, the show deftly balances each supernatural case-of-the-week with ongoing threads that dig deeper into the wider world it shares with Netflix's Sandman, as well as the interior world of each lead character. There are cameos and name-drops that will please diehard Gaiman fans, but the show doesn't rely on all that by any means. Instead, it's the chemistry shared by the central trio that gives life to our deceased heroes, who are entangled in a beautifully handled queer love triangle. Supporting characters like Lukas Gage's lusty, abs-fuelled Cat King and Jenn Lyon's camp delight of a role as Esther Finch also deserve a shoutout for chewing up scenery in the best way possible.

It's just a shame that other supporting cast-members don't fare quite as well. The kind of lacklustre writing common to more generic YA fare does occasionally surface, and as is common, some episodes suffer from streaming bloat in terms of length. But at its most inventive, Dead Boy Detectives still balances banter and darkness with plenty of charm, throwing everything from sassy, talking cats to a giant doll-head spider our way without forgetting the boys at the heart of all this. Let's just hope Netflix doesn't kill them off too young.

Dead Boy Detectives takes the Sandman universe in a thrilling new YA-led direction that infuses old-school case-of-the-week storytelling with a modern spin that's anything but ghastly.
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