An adventurous-family series that follows an orphan girl, Lyra. Lyra's friend has been kidnapped. While she is looking for her friend, she discovers truths about her parents that lead her to a dangerous plot targeting many children. Lyra cooperates with a brave boy, Will, to face the evil powers together.
While His Dark Materials is not, on the basis of the first episode, an all-out extravaganza, it is a fine piece of drama, capturing the strangeness and childlike wonder of the books, but also their rigour and bite. This is intelligent populism writ large.
His Dark Materials' first episodes are a mixture of unabashedly gorgeous visuals, several strong performances, and writing that demonstrates time and again that it has no confidence in either of those things.
What never fully worked for me in the four episodes, out of the eight-episode first season, sent to critics is the necessary feeling of narrative and thematic momentum. It's vastly better than the movie, but neither fun nor smart enough to quite succeed.
Visually, it's Art Deco meets steampunk, with the airships and canal barges feeling a little less fresh than when this world first tumbled from Pullman's rich imagination; but his themes are ever-pertinent.