Watch Of The Week: Sweet Tooth
One of the few upsides of the pandemic was that it erased all memories of Robert Downey Jr’s atrocious Dr Doolittle movie. The February 2020 stinker, in which the blockbuster star method-acted opposite chatting tigers and farting dragons, sank like a lead baboon. Yet it did little
to quench the animal passions of Downey Jr, who was soon circling back to the same theme of talking furballs as executive producer of 2021 Netflix fantasy drama Sweet Tooth.
The series, adapted from a cult DC Comics graphic novel, told the story of a young boy named
Gus (Christian Convery), born with the ears and antlers of a deer in a post-apocalyptic North
America devastated by a deadly virus. Given the world was staggering from lockdown to lockdown, the obvious criticism was that Netflix’s timing was less than stellar.
The show side-stepped such complaints with its sunny aura. The vibe was Mad Max crossed with
My Little Pony and, given the circumstances, it was far more heartwarming than it had any right to be. Two years on, Sweet Tooth’s enjoyably pacy second season arrives with the real pandemic now a fading memory.
There’s not much blood and no sex across eight agreeably action-packed episodes, while James Brolin is back as the folksy narrator introducing each instalment. Still, when it’s scary
it really goes there. At one point, a well-meaning yet obsessed doctor is revealed to have
lobotomised a talking crocodile.
He then uses the victim’s brain tissue to create a potential antidote for a deadly virus (albeit off-screen). Try explaining that to your curious seven-year-old. The bleaker atmosphere is justified given that Gus is now a prisoner of crazed fascists, the Last Men. They are led by the evil General Abbot (Neil Sandilands). The Last Men are (not unreasonably) fixated on finding a cure for the H5G9 virus that ravaged mankind and created a generation of children with animal features.
The general assumption is these mutant kids – Gus included – spread the virus. And so they are hunted down remorselessly. Abbot, however, suspects the children’s DNA can be used to fight the plague. He has, to that end, forced Doctor Singh (Adeel Akhtar) to experiment on a group
of imprisoned hybrids. They include not only Gus but a child who looks like an elephant and a girl with a pig-like nose.
The success of recent HBO blockbuster The Last of Us confirmed Covid hasn’t put audiences off fictional pandemics. Of course, Sweet Tooth had already demonstrated that point when it was a medium-sized hit for Netflix two years ago. Series two may be darker, as already pointed out. But
it’s brisk and big-hearted, too.