Review: 'Angry Birds: Mystery Island...A Hatchlings Adventure'

Animated kids shows don't receive nearly enough love in the industry.

I suspect a lot of people have the perception that an audience comprised of mostly kids must be easy to entertain. It takes skill to crank out an episode of Succession or NCIS. But how tough can it be to write for an audience comprised of viewers under the age of ten?

But while kids might not need the nuanced take on capitalism provided by Succession, that doesn't mean they are easy to entertain. As any parent can tell you, young viewers have very specific ideas about which shows are worth watching. And when they find someone they like, they'll watch it dozens of times.

Young audiences can also tell when a show is talking down to them. There's a real difference between embracing your inner child and writing for the audience and just creating some colorful, stupid program because you think that's what kids will lured into watching.

The ironic thing is that if you are a parent - or if you watch a lot of kids' programming - the lack of authenticity is almost immediately obvious in the final product. You can always tell when someone's heart isn't in the show they've been working on. And to be honest, those cynical money grabs are pretty depressing to experience.

Amazon Kids premieres a new series based on the Angry Birds franchise this week and while my son is no longer in the prime viewing age, I can tell you the eight-episode first season strikes all the right notes. Angry Birds: Mystery Island...A Hatchlings Adventure might sound a bit like a convoluted premise, but in reality, it's a breezy and confident series that is a worthy addition to the Angry Birds universe.

And yes, while it might seem a bit strange, there is an Angry Birds universe of successful movies and TV shows, all built around characters from a mobile game that can best be described as "shooting various birds at objects and destroying them." But this new series highlights why the various Angry Birds projects have connected with their young audience.

Angry Birds: Mystery Island...A Hatchlings Adventure doesn't waste a lot of time on mythology-building. The show introduces three new Angry Birds hatchlings - "Mia," "Rosie," and "Buddy" - and a foreign-exchange piglet named "Hamylton." And within about two minutes, the four have been launched to a new "Mystery Island," where they are forced to learn to work together as they try and survive while figuring out how to get home.

Describing the 12-minute episodes as Gilligan's Island with Angry Birds sounds a bit glib, but I think it's also a fair take on the premise. And there is nothing wrong with that because it provides an almost unlimited number of possible story ideas at a location that allows the show to focus on the main characters, which is an important consideration when dealing with younger viewers. 

The series was created and written by Eric Rogers, who does a really nice job of setting the perfect tone for the show. It doesn't talk down to the audience, it's lively and colorful while also providing the little life lessons that help to engage the audience. There are some pop culture references for parents, but one of the best things about the show is that it talks to the young audience with a clear-eyed joyfulness that is fun to watch.

The voice cast is also really solid, with the wonderful Kate Micucci (Garfunkel & Oates) voicing Mia, Javier "Harvey" Guillén (What We Do In The Shadows) as Buddy, Nasim Pedrad (SNL, The New Girl, Chad) as Rosie and Dominic Monaghan as Hamylton. They all deliver nice performances and I am always thankful I watch an animated show that doesn't include the same predictable cast of voices. 

As any parent will tell you, it's impossible to predict whether your child will connect with a TV series. So I can't provide any guarantees here. But I can promise that Angry Birds: Mystery Island...A Hatchlings Adventure is worth checking out and I wouldn't be surprised to learn your little one will put it in their regular daily rotation.

Angry Birds: Mystery Island...A Hatchlings Adventure is currently available now on Amazon Kids+ and Prime Video.