Though this series shares the title as the 90's movie, cartoon, and comic books that preceded it, it takes place in a completely different universe.
instead of being born into wealth, young Richie somehow eliminated the use for carbon fuel, by using his uneaten vegetables. he became a 'trillionaire' as a result, and moved his family (father cliff and older sister harper) into a huge dream mansion.
though he gains a lot of material possessions (such as; a robot maid named irona, pet whales, jetpack, and amusement park), he is most concerned with staying connected with his two best friends; murray - his money manager (played by Joshua carlon), and darcy (played by jenna Ortega) - his 'money spender' .
this is all explained in the opening credits by Richie himself (played by jake brennan).
with the help of cgi and expansive and stylish set designs, a surreal utopia - which serves as a playground for Richie and his friends, is created. most events and activities take place in the makeshift living room or bedroom of 'master richie'. it's vital that they're nice to look at - which they are:)
a little imagination from the viewers is needed to fill in a few blanks. as there are some things that either happen off camera, or are not explained at all. this is a nice touch, as it keeps us engaged. it's a fantasy world where anything can happen.
the focus is wisely kept on the children. the average age of the cast is twelve - which is also the extent of the target audience. they all give energetic and charismatic performances in their distinctive roles. the story is mostly told through their eyes. Richie and his friends, as well as robot irona (played by brooke Wexler), have great chemistry. even the reoccurring non rapper 't-nice', aka taj, aka 'bulldozer's son' (played by Nathan Anderson), fits in effortlessly with the group.
there's an interesting dynamic within. darcy and murray are polar opposites and don't seem to get along. it's unlikely that they'd even associate with each other had it not been for Richie - who seems to love them both equally, and is the glue that holds them all together.
the older robot maid irona, is both an adviser and servant to Richie. despite not having any feelings, she sometimes acts as though she doesn't want to work. she appears human upon first glance, however, she talks in autotuned voice and is the subject of many special effects.
the b plots are usually reserved for Richie's father cliff, and older sister harper. harper is an angry overachiever, desperate to get into Harvard university. she wants to carve a lane for herself, and is unimpressed with Richie's success.
cliff is a lazy, jobless, barely functional, 'man-child'. he seems to learn from his children rather than the other way around. he wants to spend time with them, but mostly ends up helping, or hindering, harper's plans.
the overall tone of the show is light, loud, and in a similar vein as some of the Disney tween sitcoms from the late 90's/early 2000's. this is not surprising as it borrows some of the same writers. though I don't find it to be anywhere near as obnoxious.
sure, there's some slapstick, sight gags, and subtle references to bathroom humour, but they are few and far between. they don't get in the way of the colourful, fast paced action.
there's also a fair amount of heart sprinkled throughout - without things getting too sappy. the intention is to entertain, not teach. this isn't high art and shouldn't be judged as such.
there's a sense of wonder and comfort. each episode is a new adventure. 21 of them in total, span over two seasons - which makes it easy to binge. the show actually improves as it progresses . part of me wishes that it could have lasted longer. then again, it was best to end it before the actors outgrew their roles.
it's been four years since it's debut. i'd definitely call it an unlikely classic! I only hope Netflix keeps it available for us to watch until our hearts are content :)