There used to be a great little television show that generations of parents had sat down to watch with their kids. It featured the adventures of a time-travelling man with his companions who got into all sorts of scrapes and alongside some silly adventures, it also had great characters and lots of imagination. Then the BBC decided Doctor Who needed to be remade for modern audiences.

After marinating it in “The Message” for a few years, the show began its slow and painful death.

This leaves something of a gap in your viewing schedule, particularly if you are a father with kids maybe too old for standard kids TV, but not quite ready to truly appreciate the glory of Bikini Chainsaw Zombies III just yet.

Well, I am here to make a recommendation to you, gentle Outposter. There is something on television that really is worth your family viewing time – Alex Rider.

Alex-Rider

You might have heard of Alex Rider. They are a series of “Young Adult” novels with a plot that can best be described as James Bond meets Harry Potter. Orphaned after his parents died in a plane crash, Alex was raised by his Uncle. He is encouraged by his uncle to travel, take an interest in current affairs, study languages, and take up pastimes such as martial arts, rock climbing, and scuba diving with a healthy interest in all sorts of adrenaline sports.

His Uncle is also frequently overseas on business trips. It turns out that his Uncle wasn’t just a businessman who liked extreme sports. His Uncle is a high-level government operative and was preparing Alex for some aspects of his life, and his families, that were always destined to surface painfully.

So far, so cliche. The first novel – Stormbreaker – was adapted into a movie in 2006 starring Alex Pettyfer as Alex Rider, and co-starred Mickey Rourke, Bill Nighy, Stephen Fry, and Ewan McGregor. It was a notorious flop and caused plans for a franchise to be canned. It also took a much more light-hearted approach than the novels.

Many more books were published, but any further live-action adaptions were off the agenda. Then in 2020, Amazon launched a series adapting the novels, and it was surprisingly brilliant.

Alex-Rider

Refusing to treat its potentially young audience like idiots, it self-assuredly leaned directly into the moral quandary that no doubt exists in the world of international espionage. Loyalties are betrayed, life-changing lies are told, and the notion of duty is questioned.

The supporting cast is excellent. A particular highlight is the chillingly calculating turn from Stephen Dillane – Game Of Thrones‘ Stannis Baratheon – as the head of the Government Department Of Special Operations. The show also asked interesting questions about the morality of using a teenager in the way Rider gets used in the stories.

Alex-Rider

The show received a second season in 2021. A third and final season is now available on Amazon via the ad-supported Freevee service and it is definitely going out on a high. This season is much more densely plotted than you would normally expect for a “Young Adult” series and will have you and your kids reaching for the remote to hit that button and start the next episode immediately.

Layers are stripped away as the truth about Alex’s family history is revealed. The only issue is that there are many more books to adapt, so it seems a real shame that Amazon are ending the show after three seasons.

Alex Rider is very, very highly recommended family viewing.

Alex-Rider

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