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TV Series Review: National Treasure: Edge of History (2023, Disney+) *No Spoilers*

National Treasure: Edge of History One Sheet
While I wouldn't say I was a huge fan of the National Treasure movies staring Nicolas Cage, I did find them enjoyable and would have certainly watched another if more were made in the series (or is it 'franchise' when we're talking movies?).

Having finally gotten around to watching the new Disney+ series National Treasure: Edge of History I'm honestly not sure who the creators think their audience is, because it's definitely not me?

At this point I've watched six episodes and I'm intending to push through until the end but I'm finding it a difficult watch because at age 52 the show feels heavily skewed towards teenage girls, or at a stretch young adults in general. There's also a very CW show vibe that I'm getting that screams 'budget' television more than any attempt to give the series a 'movie' like quality. Which Disney has done with some of its Marvel based TV series.

Not even the inclusion of Catherine Zeta Jones - who I did not know was in the show until she appeared on screen - is giving me something to keep me hooked. She's actually pretty good in this, and I'm sure she was excited to have a lot more screen time here than she got in Wednesday. It's just that her character is a fairly straight forward villain who will do almost anything to get what she wants (well she won't but her hench people will).

I'm kind of hoping her character, Billie Pearce, gets a little more depth added in the backend of the series but it's not looking promising.

The premise of the show, which does continue on from the movies and is in the same timeline, Jess Valenzuela (Lisette Olivera), a 20-year-old Dreamer, sets off on an exploration to discover the mystery of her family history, and, with the help of her friends, seeks to recover historical lost treasure.

While I have no issue with Nicolas Cage's main character role in the movies now being played by a female (to be clear Jess is an entirely new character and not just a gender swapped Ben Gates) she seems to know quite a lot of the answers just through a quick glance, and is very street smart about all kinds of things you wouldn't expect a 'dreamer' to really be clued into.

At the same time Billie Pearce is like a much older and well resourced version of Jess and seems to know quite a lot of the puzzle solutions with just a quick glance and her own history knowledge - which is a little more believable for her character given she's had a considerable head start on finding the 'treasure'.

The two main issues I'm having is, quite a bit of the show's emphasis is on the relationships between Jess and her friends, and the puzzle solving.

Jess and her friends are all paired up in various relationships with each other. While these relationships, to an extent, inform the overall story, they do get too much emphasis at times. To the point where it seems like the show is just about the relationships and... oh, yeah, remember, we were looking for a treasure.

We're basically following the love lives of four couples over the season - well three and one former couple sort of. It's a lot, and is the main reason I'm getting CW vibes and that Young Adult audience target market.

As far as the puzzles go, while I don't think the movies ever really gave the viewer a chance to solve them, they did seem to give you more steps to follow in understanding the logic. Plus they were better linked into familiar, real world history as something that 'just might be true'.

In the series, as Jess solves a written puzzle we get the familiar light up overlay solution seen in movies but so many times I don't really even know what I'm looking at? The solution is there in front of me but I get no sense of how clever Jess has been in solving it because I just didn't understand the question in the first place.

You'd think, in a ten episode series, they'd have time to explain the clues and puzzles more but instead the relationships seem to get a lot more attention.

If this show gets a second season it does have potential but I still doubt fans of the original movies are the target market. It seems like the creators simply wanted to take an established property and introduce it to a new audience because there's very little here to bring the original movie fans along for the ride. It just doesn't have the same feel or credibility.

To be honest Catherine Zeta Jones might have been a better choice as the star/lead character just because she seems like she has the life experience to be a puzzle solver and history buff of the caliber of Ben Gates. Maybe Jess could have been more of the Riley Poole role, and we'd have kind of a Master and Apprentice type team going forward.

Though I guess Catherine's demographic isn't exactly the audience this is intended for either?

If you're looking for the magic of the films, you won't find too much of it here. However if you're a fan of CW shows that aren't superheroes and are more ensemble relationship dramas with a bit of a mystery thrown in, this could well be for you.


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