Renegade Nell 2024 tv series review

After making her mark at the BBC with hits like “Happy Valley” and “Gentleman Jack,” screenwriter-turned-showrunner Sally Wainwright has joined forces with Disney for her latest venture. With the British broadcaster’s tightening purse strings limiting even its most esteemed creators to scant resources—no more than three episodes per series and four characters per scene—the appeal of Disney’s offer is understandable, if not expected. This belt-tightening, a consequence of post-Brexit financial constraints, has frustrated those working within its confines and left viewers disheartened by the decline of primetime broadcasts.

Enter “Renegade Nell,” an eight-part series blending historical and fantastical elements, adding to the plethora of light period entertainments spanning the Stuart and Georgian eras. Arriving in the wake of the short-lived BBC comedy “The Witchfinder” and Apple TV+’s recent “The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin,” “Renegade Nell” strikes a tone less aggressively whimsical than its predecessors but notably younger than Wainwright’s previous works. The influence of Disney is evident from the outset, with our diminutive heroine empowered by fantastical abilities akin to those of superheroes—a nod, perhaps, to the “Avengers” phenomenon reshaping streaming content.

Nell Jackson (Louisa Harland), presumed dead by her family, returns to her North London home to find herself entangled in a high-society intrigue involving local landowners, their offspring, and a scheming Earl. With the help of a luminescent sprite named Billy Blind (Nick Mohammed), Nell navigates her newfound roles as both outlaw and caregiver to her siblings, assuming various guises along the way. As Nell’s adventures unfold, the series adapts to its PG-13 rating, drawing inspiration from recent trends in period drama, superhero narratives, and even elements of “Doctor Who,” “House of Cards,” and “Game of Thrones.”

Craftsmanship abounds in “Renegade Nell,” from Tom Pye’s detailed costuming to the lush cinematography of Oli Russell and Catherine Goldschmidt. Action sequences engineered by the stunt team, led by Abbi Collins and Lucy Egerton, rival the spectacles of Hollywood’s golden age. Yet, despite its visual prowess, the series initially struggles to match the depth of Wainwright’s previous writing, taking time to find its narrative footing and explore themes of class and identity.

However, as the series progresses, it embraces its unique identity, delving into England’s complex heritage and societal prejudices with greater depth. The ensemble cast, led by Harland’s dynamic portrayal of Nell, injects vitality into the story, with standout performances from Adrian Lester, Art Malik, and Joely Richardson. Ultimately, “Renegade Nell” transcends the formulaic trappings of mainstream franchises, capturing the irreverent spirit of British storytelling while carving out its own niche in the streaming landscape. As Easter approaches, signaling the show’s release, one can’t help but anticipate further adventures with Nell Jackson—a character destined to ride again.


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By acinetv