When most people think of magic or fairies, perhaps Tinkerbell is the first thing that comes to mind. Or maybe Harry Potter. What if I were to tell you that there was another magical boarding school? One with fairies, monsters and specialists — the knights and protectors of Alfea in the Otherworld. That may seem game-changing, but, in all honesty, there was nothing magical about Netflix’s new drama series, “Fate: The Winx Saga.”
Back in the early 2000s, I vaguely remember watching the underrated Nickelodeon animated series “Winx Club.” Its eight season run proved that it was worth a watch, but the reboot fails to live up to its predecessor. The series doesn’t belong on Netflix’s platform. I think it fits more with The CW Network or Freeform, as it has similarities to “Pretty Little Liars” and “Riverdale” with a touch of “TeenWolf” due to its dark and gritty realism.
The pilot opens with a dark and sublime setting as an older man tends to his loose sheep. After stepping outside of a force field, he’s attacked by a monster. We’re introduced to Bloom (Abigail Cowen, “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina”), the new girl, who is a black sheep among the crowd of other fairy students. The series quickly introduces us to the other fairies, possessing a variety of magical powers, but they’re only able to manifest their powers through channeling strong emotions — something that they’ll need to harness if they’re going to defeat a Burned One.
The reboot, made by Brian Young as well as original show creator, Iginio Straffi, feels out of place in 2021. It’s not a completely dreadful show to watch, but it is too dense to be considered an action-adventure drama. It has predictable dramatization characteristics like Stella (Hannah van der Westhuysen, “The Bay of Silence”) being the catty, mean girl to Bloom because her ex-boyfriend Sky (Danny Griffin, “Get Even”) has taken a liking to her at first sight. The typical girl-hates-girl-because-boy drama is a storyline that provides nothing to the overall plot of the series, and it leaves no room for character development.
It seems like the writer’s main goal was to produce sympathy for Bloom’s character by creating the “I don’t know where I belong” narrative. Of course, this allows the audience to form a sense of relationship with the character, but it’s excessive. The show combines so many soap opera storylines with such slow pacing that it’s easy to forget you’re watching a show about magical fairies.
One thing that does stand out is the convincing special effects. There weren’t any cheesy green screens, and all the effects were realistic enough to be believable. The Burned One was especially well-made — it’s intimidating and scary enough to give people nightmares.
If the series had weeded out irrelevant side plots and focused on maximizing action scenes, the show might have lived up to its expectations. After all, people enjoy the satisfaction of watching magical protagonists defeat scary antagonists, and high-quality special effects are 90 percent of the battle.
For those who enjoy all things monsters and the supernatural, “Fate: The Winx Saga” will probably be a disappointment. I think it should’ve stuck to what made the animated series successful: focusing on the daily lives and the support and love of a friendship between a tribe of fairies.
Daily Arts Writer Jessica Curney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.