Two teens apply for a job at a haunted amusement park. Barney (Zach Barack) is looking to emancipate from his transphobic family. Norma (Kody Kavitha) is obsessed with the park’s mysterious founder (Coco Peru). A mishap leaves Barney’s dog, Pugsley (Alex Brightman), with magic powers. Soon the goofy teens and their talking dog are investigating supernatural mysteries. Sound familiar?
Dead End: Paranormal Park has a colorful art style and a likable cast. The diverse ensemble discusses issues like anxiety, prejudice and neurodiversity. But the underlying plots fall into a predictable Scooby Doo formula. Norma, Barney and Pugsley slot into Velma, Shaggy and Scooby roles. Obnoxious demon Courtney (Emily Osment) plays the Scrappy. The cast banters. A monster chases them. A deus ex machina saves them. Rinse. Repeat.
Things improve immensely in the final stretch. They drop the monster of the week pattern and focus on a larger mystery. Episodes 8 and 9, in particular, burst with ambition and creativity. They suggest ways this series could grow. But a lack of buzz tells me renewal is unlikely. If the premise interests you then watch this season. Or read the source material.
One caveat. The violent monster attacks may be too intense for small children. Despite one monster’s insistence that today’s kids don’t scare easily.