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THEODOSIA Is A Fun Adventure, But Has Problematic Pagan Elements

Photo from IMDb

THEODOSIA Is A Fun Adventure, But Has Problematic Pagan Elements

By Trevor Jones, Movieguide® Contributor

THEODOSIA is a 2022 children’s fantasy mystery series that premiered on HBO Max. Set in 20th century Britain, the show follows Theodosia Throckmorton (Eloise Little), a cunning 14-year-old archaeologist. After recovering the “Eye of Horus,” she discovers that Egyptian myths are real. Theo and her friends struggle with magical mishaps while battling a nefarious underground cult. The series is based on the book “Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos” by R.L. LaFevers.

THEODOSIA offers a healthy mix of charming characters, light-hearted banter, and several decent moral lessons. It explores the complexities of Egyptian mythology and cultural artifacts. The liberal use of pagan magic might turn off some viewers. However, it offers positive lessons for its adolescent audience. MOVIEGUIDE® recommends discernment for teeangers who have media wisdom.

Theo and her gadget-inventing brother, Henry (Frankie Minchella), help with an excavation dig in Egypt. They retrieve the “Eye of Horus” from a tomb and transport it to their family-operated natural history museum. Upon inspecting the object, Theo gains the ability to sense magic. Using the Museum’s collection of ancient artifacts, Theo investigates her connection with the god of Osiris. However, an evil cult named “Serpents of Chaos” tries to exploit her newfound power for their own end.

Theo and Henry live normal, upper-class lives in Britain while keeping their magical adventures a secret. Their first ally is Safiya (Yasmina El-Abd), a cocky Egyptian princess who joins their school. She has a crush on Henry and often helps Theo with research. The second ally is Will (Nana Agyeman-Bediako), a young street magician with no experience of actual magic. He acts as the comedic relief and a charmer to any suspecting adults. All four teens work together to save the world from ancient spirits.

In terms of positives, the acting is superb. The four leading teen actors achieve a dynamic range. They have infectious chemistry and sell a genuine friendship. Whether it is moments of seriousness or levity, even the side characters steal the show.

The worldview is humanistic with heavy pagan influence. Theodosia practices magic to varying degrees to success. She uses enchanted amulets to block out evil, turns people into stone, and chants prayers to the Egyptian gods. Magic is repeatedly shown to be dangerous if used improperly. She makes a clone of herself and even cheats on a botany test. However, her more selfish spells often result in mortal danger. By admitting her mistakes, she reverses the witchcraft and saves the day.

However, Theo and her friends form a genuine bond. She learns to open up her findings with Henry, to put trust in Safiya, and even sacrifice herself to save her family. The four principal teens do their best to protect their family members from the Serpents of Chaos. They valiantly reject the Serpents’ appeal for gaining ultimate power.

Aside from the pagan elements, THEODOSIA’s most decisive factor is its juvenile sensibilities. HBO Max advertises the series as a semi-serious adventure show. However, the execution leans on Disney Channel-type production quality. The writing is generally fine, but it often tiptoes to the style of “camp.” The comedy borders on cartoonish antics, which take away from the more serious stakes. It tends to lose its “serious mystery” tone quite often. The charismatic cast is what keeps this show together.

In conclusion, THEODOSIA is a fun mystery adventure series with some questionable pagan setbacks. The four teenage leads are great actors, the plot is interesting, and it expertly appeals to adolescent sensibilities. However, be warned that it features Egyptian rituals, an overly cartoonish death cult, and witchcraft that results in mortal danger. The show uses these ideas for flavor, but they overshadow the more humanistic qualities. MOVIEGUIDE® advises discernment for teenage viewers.