Top positive review
For cranberry's sake, just watch it!
Reviewed in the United States on October 23, 2016
I has a sad and it’s all Amazon’s fault. See, last weekend I finally got around to watching Gortimer Gibbin’s Life on Normal Street; most of the time I’m multitasking and that particular show insisted I actually pay attention so it had to wait until I found some free time. Once I did, I realized that is was most definitely a show that deserved undivided attention and got just that – possibly to the detriment of my writing time – for days until the final episode played on my television. So why the sad, you ask? Well, because it’s over. Done. Gone. In the realm of no more. Who wouldn’t be sad when a show as good as this one is cancelled (which was the plan from the start and not something forced upon them by Amazon)?
You might be sitting there going but it’s just some silly kids’ show and I’m here to tell you are no nothing about good television. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street isn’t your run-of-the-mill silly sitcom reliant on old, boring clichés and barely tolerable, groan-including acting that even the worst telenovela would shun. Amazon’s weird, family-friendly take on the mystical is far more than that; it has excellent writing, phenomenal acting and a believable heart at the center of its often far-fetched premises.
David Anaxagoras, the man who created Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street, is, in my opinion, Joss Whedon-level in his skills. He was able to take an age old stable – three friends on adventures – and mold it into something extraordinary and unique. Unlike other writers who continue to rely on tired stereotypes about the non-existent differences between boys and girls, he crafted characters with actual personalities; Gortimer, Ranger and Mel are fully developed, living and breathing people populating Anaxagoras’ world, not just caricatures used to move the story from point A to B.
There’s a supernatural base at the stories that play out on Normal Street; from the Frog of Ultimate Doom to The End, nothing is ever simply or, well, normal. Much like Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there’s magic everywhere they go and that magic tends to run roughshod over our protagonists’ lives. But no matter how weird things get, it always comes back to the simple things in life: love and commitment. Gortimer, Ranger and Mel, often joined by Stanley, Catherine and Abigail, continually find themselves facing seemingly impossible challenges that, many times, are only overcome because of their intense bond.
It’s freaking addictive; before you know it, you’ll be stuck in a showhole and filled with dread at a future without any new episodes to find yourself lost in. Okay, maybe not dread but when the credits play for the final time, you’ll be feeling the same sads I did and you’ll scour the interwebs for proof that there’s more to come. But there isn’t. And that’s something we all must now live with.
And speaking of the sads… Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street wants you to cry so hard. We all know I’ve got an ice cold diamond encased in a steel storage shed where my heart should be yet there were still times it managed to reach in, grab those heart strings, and do its dangest to tip ‘em right out. I never actually crossed that line but I’m not ashamed to admit I cam dang close. I won’t give anything away but the episodes that really try and work those emotions were The Fabled Flower of Normal Street, The Fault in Our Street and The End; be sure to keep those Kleenex close, y’all.
David Bloom (Stanley Zielinski), Chandler Kinney (Catherine Dillman) Coco Grayson (Abigail) are the peripheral friends of Normal Street. They don’t show up every episode but when they do they bring their A-game and prove their worth in every scene. Ashley Boettcher (Mel Fuller) and Drew Justice (Ranger Bowen) shine as Gortimer’s best friends and their talents add to the realism that is the center of the otherwise preternatural series. And, of course, there’s Sloane Morgan Siegel as the heart and soul of Normal Street, Gortimer Gibbon.
Okay, excuse while I gush.
Siegel is truly a master of his craft; without a word, he was able to deftly convey Gortimer’s range of emotions with a quivering lips, shaky voice, slumped shoulders; his performance never ventured into cheesy pantomiming as everything he did seemed natural. To watch him act is to understand that an actor’s greatest challenge is to convince the viewer there is no acting taking place. He’s that natural in front of the camera.
Oh, and I can’t not mention the incomparable Kim Rhodes (Vicki Bowen) who retains every bit of the charm and attitude-infused grace I remember from her Suite Life of Zack and Cody days. It was a real treat seeing her on screen again.
Like you really can’t tell how much I adored this show? My only complaint is Amazon’s not making any more and that’s just so full of… sad. In a world where most shows aimed at young ‘uns are built on stupid premises and cheap laughs, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street went a different, and superior, route and rooted it in the drama that arises when people love each other as much and long as Gortimer, Ranger and Mel do. And not only that, from the first episode we had something rarely seen on American television; boys who not only have emotions but show them. That’s something we don’t see nearly enough and with Normal Street gone, the hole is that much larger.
If you have Amazon Prime, it’s already available for you to binge on. If you don’t, you can purchase the series by episode or season. If, for some weird reason, you aren’t sure if it’s worth it, Amazon has the pilot episode for free streaming. Go and spend about twenty-five minutes and you’ll see that everything I’ve said is true – maybe, even, that I undersold it.
You can find the cast and creator on Twitter if you feel like telling them how awesome they are – which I did, by the way. Yeah, Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street made such an impact, I actually took to social media to tell those behind it how good a job they did.