A review of Lockwood & Co. Season 1
“It’s terrible the world’s come to this. I feel sorry for your generation.”
- Lockwood & Co.
Based on the popular YA book series by Jonathan Stroud, Lockwood & Co. centers around a version of London where ghosts exist as part of accepted daily life. They are so ever-present in fact that the government has enforced nightly curfews and several agencies have been created to deal with said ghosts before they hurt or kill more people. In this reality, children and teenagers have developed intuitive abilities to see and fight against these ghosts, while adults gradually lose these skills with age. Most agencies are led by an adult supervisor who may or may not have their young employees’ best interests at heart. The only agency to operate without adult supervision is the titular “Lockwood & Co.,” which is comprised of three teenage agents: Anthony Lockwood (Cameron Chapman), Lucy Carlyle (Ruby Stokes), and George Karim (Ali Hadji-Heshmati). Showrunner Joe Cornish is best known for his 2011 film, Attack the Block, starring a young John Boyega, which also concentrated on teenagers taking supernatural matters into their own hands. Along with Cornish, the writing crew on Lockwood includes Kara Smith, Ed Hime, and Joy Wilkinson, who (to give some context for the show's feel) have written episodes for such shows as The Baby, Doctor Who, Skins, and the upcoming Anansi Boys. In 2020, long-time friends and collaborators Cornish, director Edgar Wright and producers Nira Park and Rachael Prior formed a new production company called Complete Fiction. Lockwood & Co. is the first major output from Complete Fiction and I am excited to see what else these friends will produce going forward.
Ghost-hunting produces plenty of opportunities for entertaining action sequences throughout the series, especially its sword fights, but the show also displays the Joe Cornish fingerprint of containing great dialogue with loads of humor and biting sarcasm. Well done on the casting here, because there is wonderful chemistry and camaraderie between the show’s leads (Champan, Stokes, and Hadji-Heshmati). Lockwood has the feel of Buffy or Supernatural with the quiet, lived-in environment of the original British Being Human. It also happens to have a great soundtrack. In an interview with RadioTimes.com Joe Cornish explained, "We've gone for some contemporary music but really, a lot of early- to mid-80s goth - Bauhaus, The Cure. Because even though Lockwood & Co. feels like it's set in the present day, it's a parallel reality where the digital revolution never happened."
Anthony Lockwood is a rich kid; he is both polished and totally reckless. His competitive nature and desire for the limelight often come at the cost of his own safety. He started an agency to fight ghosts without an adult chaperone, unlike every other paranormal investigation agency out there. He seems to have a little bit of a death wish which may have a bit to do with his dark unexplained youth. He’s an orphan and we never learn exactly how his parents died, only that it happened when he was very young, leaving him the London home that has become the agency’s headquarters. Lockwood presents himself as a bit haunted and older than his years, making his mysterious past that much more intriguing. Chapman does a great job at making Lockwood charming and youthful, yet also dark and extremely problematic. It is for all of these reasons that he sees the talent and potential of the young Lucy Carlyle when she shows up for a job interview with nothing to lose.
Lucy is kick ass. It would have been easy to make Anthony Lockwood the star hero with skills to save the day, but it is Lucy who truly shines throughout the series. She left her small village home after realizing that both her mother and her ghost-hunting agency supervisor did not care about her or the other children at risk. After a particularly traumatic job, she lost her best friend who is essentially in a coma known as “ghost locked.” Lucy initially tried to apply for a job with a huge well-funded, well-known London agency, but she was immediately denied for not having finished all of her training qualifications yet. When she sees an advertisement in the paper for Lockwood & Co. she applies as a last resort. Fortunately, Lucy has great talent. She is a “listener” who can hear ghosts just by touching haunted artifacts. Ruby Stokes is both strong and strong-willed as Lucy. She and Lockwood/Chapman have great chemistry. But then again so does she and George/Ali.
George is definitely my favorite character. Even though he also possesses ghost hunting “talents,” George's real superpowers are: 1) being highly perceptive and 2) having a voracious love of learning. He is Lockwood & Co.'s researcher extraordinaire, studying ancient languages, mythology, and more. George is the one that often decodes the real mysteries that are going on. He is also a quirky bastard and a great cook. He is the glue that holds the trio together, even while reprimanding them or feeling like a third wheel in the burgeoning relationship between Lucy and Lockwood. George is loveable and looking for love, but each pairing - and all three of the characters together - makes for a truly great Found Family.
What I appreciate about Lockwood & Co. most is that the world of the story feels fleshed out. I loved hanging out at the Baker Street apartment in Sherlock, while Holmes and Watson had witty banter with a side of tea. For every action sequence battling ghosts, Lockwood also features scenes where Lucy, George, and Lockwood are just gathered around the kitchen table, processing the mysteries at hand, along with their own trauma. Lockwood also goes to lengths to display the repercussions of what happens when Lockwood and Lucy accidentally burn down a client’s house while fighting a ghost. Their agency gets sued by their client to pay sixty thousand pounds in damages or else they will lose their license and be shut down by the governmental agency that monitors them. The heroes even get arrested at one point. There are actual consequences to their actions, unlike many other fantasy and sci-fi shows where the protagonists make it out unscathed. While there certainly were enough questions left open to make me excited for a potential season two, I am happy to return to the world of Lockwood & Co. just for its witty dialogue and engrossing character relationships. I want to see what this trio gets up to around the breakfast table just as much as their next supernatural job assignment.
Besides watching TV and movies, Diana likes plants, the great outdoors, drawing and reading comics, and just generally rocking out. She has a BA in English Literature and is an art school dropout. You can follow her on Instagram @dldimuro and Twitter @DianaDiMuro