When I first saw the trailer for The Umbrella Academy I was sold on the cast and a bit wary of everything else. Robert Sheehan has been a personal favourite ever since Misfits, Mary J. Blige is generally awesome, and Ellen Page, of course, is just magical, and none disappointed at all. I've got to say though, whilst everyone involved gave some really great performances, Aidan Gallagher absolutely ran away with the show as Number Five. Dude's 16 years old and is running circles around everyone else on set. How do you cast a role for a character who is a 50-year-old man suffering from PTSD and trapped in a teenagers body? Well, they nailed it.
They also nailed the plot... pretty much. I've never read the books so I can't speak to authenticity, but they did justice to the old trope of apocalypse-preventing-time-travel and threw in just enough weird new stuff to make it feel fresh. Pacing was excellent for the most part, though I did feel it slightly lag around the 70% mark, and the reveal that Vanya was the cause of the apocalypse (and that her new boyfriend was a creep) all felt a little too obvious. I'll give them serious props, though, for switching expectations at the final minute and having the family choose not to kill her, but rather try and help her instead. Also for, y'know, actually allowing the Apocalypse to happen. It sets up a much more interesting second season than I had expected.
Going back to the weirdness, a lot of it was great. I really enjoyed the family-not-family vibes and would love to know more about both Mom and Pogo, but not too sure that Hargreaves needed to be a semi-immortal alien (or whatever that sequence was). Similarly, I thought the whole concept of the time agency was brilliant and I loved the dynamic between Cha-Cha and Hazel (Hazel was one of my favourite characters, actually), but it annoyed me that Five never questioned whose timeline they were protecting. They make this whole deal (Doctor Who style) about how certain events must happen and he questions so much about those procedures, but the big obvious question is: who decides which events are fixed and which aren't? Who is running the agency? I'm sure it's a question we'll come back to, but for such an intelligent character it felt like a clear miss not to at least ask once and get rebuffed. I also wish someone, at some point, would ask where all the other miracle children are and what powers they have... (again, it's probably a later season thing, but come on!)
That said, the whole season was extremely well directed, brilliantly acted, and incredibly written. The characters are interesting, both at a human and superhero level, and there's enough originality at play that obvious similarities with series like the X-Men or Titans are pretty much null and void. I really enjoyed the first season and I can't wait to see where it wanders to next.