You won’t find TV’s best new family series on over-the-air channels, cable outlets or even on the major streaming services.
The animated series — “The Wingfeather Saga” — likely wouldn’t have been greenlighted by Hollywood anyway.
The first season debuted on Angel Studios’ platforms in December, telling the fictional story of a tightknit family, the Igibys, who live in a fantastical world of friendly creatures and not-so-friendly monsters. The Igibys are battling their overlords, the evil Fangs. The family does things you won’t see in most mainstream series. They pray before meals. They rarely squabble. They encourage one another. They practice random acts of kindness.
Why it’s worth watching
The series is based on the popular novels by singer and author Andrew Peterson and provides faithcentric families a rare treat: a fantasy series that can be viewed by the entire family. There’s no coarse language. There’s no sexuality. Yes, there are a few frightening moments, but it always remains in the kid-friendly realm — although for little ones, it may be wise to have a pillow to occasionally cover their eyes. The best part? The story, animation and musical score are as good as anything produced in Hollywood.
Each time my 11-year-olds watch an episode, they beg me to let them watch the next one. The series is known for its cliffhangers — it’s a gripping voyage into an unknown world.
A crowdfunded series, “The Wingfeather Saga” was streamed 3.5 million times in its first five weeks. It features the voices of Jodi Benson (“The Little Mermaid”), Henry Ian Cusick (“Lost” and “The 100”) and Kevin McNally (“Pirates of the Caribbean”), among others.
Peterson told The Baptist Paper that mainstream movies and television shows too often manufacture conflict within the family. In “The Wingfeather Saga,” he said, the family members are on the same team.
Identity is another major theme in the series, but not in the way the world views the subject, he said. In “The Wingfeather Saga,” the family’s identity is found in their service to the Maker.
“We belong to Someone. We belong to the King of the world,” Peterson said. “If you’re a Christian, that changes everything about who you are and your place in the world.”
If your family is a fan of “The Chronicles of Narnia” or “The Lord of the Rings” series, then you’ll probably enjoy “The Wingfeather Saga.”
Angel Studios plans on releasing seven seasons. Visit angel.com for more information.
More to watch
Also worth watching this month:
“The Most Reluctant Convert” (Pure Flix) — An atheist scholar becomes a believer thanks to the witness of his Christian friends. It’s based on the real-life story of C.S. Lewis and the stage play of the same name by Max McLean, who portrays a middle-aged Lewis in the film. It was one of the best movies of 2021. Visit PureFlix.com.
“Happily Ever Emma” (Great American Family) — An actress who enjoys playing matchmaker for her friends discovers romance isn’t as simple as she thought. It’s based on the Jane Austen novel “Emma” and debuted in March on Great American Family, which is also the new home of Candace Cameron Bure. “Happily Ever Emma” can be watched on the channel’s on-demand platforms (Frndly, for example). Visit GreatAmericanFamily.com.
“Minions: The Rise of Gru” (Netflix) — An 11-year-old boy who dreams of becoming a supervillain fails to land a spot with his favorite supervillain team, the Vicious 6. This animated comedy is the backstory to the “Despicable Me” series, although it doesn’t contain the redemptive element of those earlier films. Even so, it’s hilarious. Rated PG for some action/violence and rude humor.
“Torchlighters: The Richard Allen Story” (Redeem TV) — A young boy who is born into slavery before the Revolutionary War grows up to change the face of American Christianity by founding the African Methodist Episcopal Church. It’s the 22nd episode in the excellent “Torchlighters” animated series, which introduces children to heroes of the Christian faith. Visit RedeemTV.com.