Say what you want about Netflix being the world’s premier streaming platform, but who’s thinking of the kids? Sure, there’s a whole suite of kids’ film and TV on the platform, but it’s usually relegated to a child-friendly protected area where you can’t see the Paw Patrol for the trees. That’s nice for little kids, but not for those who’re at the awkward age – like mine, as it happens – where they’re still technically children with children’s sensibilities but also believe they’re just basically small adults and should be treated as such. You can’t show kids at that age a teen drama, goodness me, so what do you do? Enter something like Maverix, a new Australian series for youngsters that shows right up on the homepage and is about the rough-and-ready rebel sport of motocross.
I was reminded immediately of Malibu Rescue, all one season and two feature films of it. Maverix operates on the same basis, with the same cast of photogenic youngsters forced to bond and learn important moral lessons around the framework of a looming competitive main event, which in this case is to make the motocross Nationals. Motocross is important to this show because it’s important to Alice Springs, the home of Australian dirt bike racing and the setting of all ten episodes.
That cultural specificity is a pretty nice element, and while we’re on the subject of Malibu Rescue, Maverix doesn’t have its sense of Americanized airhead gloss. It’s a rougher show, at least in the texture of its setting and characters, who are largely sulkier and dealing with a few more issues. It still adheres closely to the same well-worn template, though, both of sports dramas and moralistic children’s stories, so the overall effect is very much the same.
But anyway, those characters. The ostensible protagonist is Scott Griffin (Darcy Tadich), whose famed motocross legend father Griffo (Rohan Nichol) has founded a racing academy with the intention of taking a team of tearaways to the Nationals. Said tearaways include Kaden (Sebastian Tang), whose sole character trait seems to be being cynical about everything, Jenny (Tatiana Goode), the obligatory woman-in-a-man’s-world type, Richie (Tjiirdm McGuire), whose strict parents have insisted the only way he can stay in the team is by sustaining his academic achievement, Bear (Sam Winspear-Schillings), an insufferable social media daredevil and influencer with an absentee father, and Angelique (Charlotte Maggi), the one who has mostly already aged out of all the macho bluster and competitive bickering and just wants to get on with things. Don’t we all.
It’s a decent cast of characters played by capable young actors who have understood the assignment, even if the assignment is essentially playing a cover-band take on the genre’s greatest hits. Stand by for arguments, ill-advised straining against authority, training montages, teambuilding exercises, fist-pumping moments of togetherness, and eventually the will-they-won’t-they high drama of the final race, which like all big sports events basically comes pre-packaged with the dramatic stakes.
And this is all fine, honestly. I’ve long since aged out of the target audience for this sort of thing, but I know a decently put-together story when I see one, and Maverix is a pretty solid version of exactly what it’s trying to be. It isn’t interested in being more than that, which is fine. Young kids – especially young boys – will probably get a kick out of it, and if it stirs some interest in motocross then that can’t be a bad thing either.