Spoiler alert: This review may spoil elements of all eight episodes of Alex Rider, which debuts in the U.S. on November 13th.

Otto Farrant as Alex Rider
Alex Rider (as Alex Friend) prepares to enter the strange world of Point Blanc. (Credit: Sony Pictures Television)

Alex Rider, IMDb TV’s newest original series, already debuted to excitement from fans of the books and newbies alike in the UK, Australia, and Germany earlier this year. The Beat got the chance to review it and discovered an exciting, surprisingly mature spy series. Yes, there are some silly, truly sci-fi science elements, but for the most part, this isn’t vintage Bond—this is Craig-era Bond. It’s still very much its own thing, at the same time.

Anchored by strong performances, especially from its lead, Otto Farrant (the titular Alex), this new series takes a sympathetic look at teenage boys, finally allowing them to have a sensitive side. Alex is not a macho boy pretending to be a man. He’s instead a well-trained, dedicated young man, who does not toss away allies, friends, or family easily.

Otto Farrant as Alex Rider and Vicky McClure as Mrs. Jones
Alex Rider and Mrs. Jones in Alex Rider (Credit: Sony Pictures Television)

The series, which focuses on a plot by a fascistic scientist to control young, troubled minds across the world, seems especially important in today’s world. But no fear, MI6 is here to save the day, with the help of Alex and his friends, Tom (Brenock O’Connor) and Jack (Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo).

As someone who read the original Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz voraciously as a teen (but whose memory is light on the details of each book), I can confidently say the series captures the feel of the books well, with all the thrills and chills that make the series stand apart from other adolescent spy novels. Make no doubt about it, Alex Rider gets downright eerie at points, with the abusive Point Blanc boarding school taking center stage in the middle portion of the series.

The show actually pulls back on some of the more sci-fi aspects of the gadgets Alex is given (but there are some silly, improbable sci-fi twists at the end), focusing more on MacGyver-like stunts which work well. But the real point of the show is its heart and its focus on teenagers, some of them troubled, some of them not. It takes a sympathetic eye, and since these teenagers are the main focus of the series, it doesn’t leave them behind for the thrills.

All in all, Alex Rider makes a confident debut, and Amazon (which runs IMDb TV) seems to know it, as the show was renewed for a second season just a few days ago. If you’re at all interested in a new spy show, or maybe just a teen-focused drama, check it out.

Alex Rider debuts on IMDb TV, Amazon’s free streaming service, on November 13th, 2020.