Inside Lockwood & Co, the spooky Netflix show that’s more than Sherlock meets Ghostbusters

Lockwood, Lucy, and George look concerned as they stare at something off-camera in Netflix's Lockwood and Co.
Lockwood & Co is more than a Sherlock-Ghosbusters hybrid series. (Image credit: Netflix)

Netflix prides itself on delivering the right content to you. Its entire strategy is based around a very simple principle: recommend new Netflix movies and TV shows, based on your viewing habits, and you’re unlikely to look elsewhere for your entertainment fix.

What happens, though, when one of Netflix’s in-house productions wants to actively avoid comparisons to other series and films – especially ones that populate iconic franchises? Step forward Lockwood & Co, a new supernatural Netflix series that wants audiences to judge it on its own merits.

"We didn’t look at other shows or films to inform it," showrunner Joe Cornish tells TechRadar. "We just built it from the books it’s based on, which are incredibly singular and unlike anything I’ve ever read. So my hope is that it's viewed as its own thing."

Dodging doctors and detectives 

Lucy Carlyle looks determined as she stares at something off-camera in Netflix's Lockwood and Co.

Lucy Carlyle is the driving force behind Lockwood & Co's story. (Image credit: Parisa Taghizadeh/Netflix)

Based on Jonathan Stroud’s book series of the same name, Lockwood & Co takes place 50 years after "The Problem", an epidemic-like event that led to ghosts walking among the living. Their touch means death, and only psychic-talented children and teenagers – recruited by ghost-hunting corporations – can fight and banish them.

Among those big commercial enterprises, the rogue, two-person startup Lockwood & Co –  staffed by the charismatic and mysterious Anthony Lockwood (Cameron Chapman), and socially awkward researcher George Karim (Ali Hadji-Heshmati) – fights for relevancy in a hostile and dangerous London. However, the arrival of supremely talented outsider Lucy Carlyle (Ruby Stokes) changes their fortunes for the better. Well, until the trio unearths a wider conspiracy about The Problem’s origins, putting them in greater peril than any mere specter can muster.

Lockwood & Co’s billing as a supernatural detective show immediately draws comparisons to analogous franchises. From Sherlock to Ghostbusters – particularly the young adult-positioned Ghostbusters: AfterlifeLockwood & Co bears the hallmarks of legendary sleuth-based and comedy horror series. There are even shades of Doctor Who and Raiders of the Lost Ark about its swashbuckling adventures, aesthetic, and terror-laced tonality.

Similar though it might be to such popular franchises, Lockwood & Co isn’t looking for recognition through comparisons to its world-renowned peers. Instead, Cornish wants viewers to appreciate, and get wrapped up in, the uniqueness of its stories, characters, and intriguing, otherworldly lore.

"It’s impossible to avoid some comparisons to those legendary series," Cornish muses. "Lockwood & Co has these detective story and supernatural elements, so it has aspects of other stories. But I think we take those and make something new from them. Our characters fight ghosts in a way we haven’t seen previously. It’s got this really charismatic character that runs the agency with his closest friends, so there’s a real sense of relatability and camaraderie in that."

Fight off your demons

Anthony Lockwood leans forward as he sits in an armchair in Netflix's Lockwood & Co

Anthony Lockwood's past is as mysterious as they come. (Image credit: Netflix/Parisa Taghizadeh)

Lockwood & Co’s exploration of companionship between young people is one of its greatest strengths. The Netflix show's primary objective is to entertain and thrill, but it isn’t shy about tackling important real-world issues, particularly those concerning today’s youth.

Social isolation, declining job prospects, economic shock, and the fraughtness of generational divide are some of the difficult subjects Lockwood & Co thematically tackles. However, its examination of sociopolitical topics isn’t shoved down viewers’ throats. Instead, it quietly runs in the background and supports the constantly evolving dynamics between the show’s main characters – all of whom are, to varying degrees, social outcasts struggling to deal with their own trauma.

Lockwood & Co has these detective story and supernatural elements... but we make something new from them

Joe Cornish, Lockwood & Co showrunner

For Stokes, Lucy’s determination to fight for what’s right, despite her own struggles, is what makes her such a sympathetic character. The former Bridgerton star’s hope is that viewers, especially those in the 18-25 age demographic, will take heart and inspiration from how Lucy handles her inner demons and gains strength from her experiences.

"At some point, I think everyone experiences being an outcast," Stokes says. "But those people are usually the coolest and most unique. Lucy’s learned to be unapologetically herself and that gives her an edge in social situations. She reminds me of Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games. All Katniss cared about was being strong and that’s all I cared about at my age. I hope people find Lucy similarly inspiring and relatable, specifically in this universal experience of being a teen or young adult and having to navigate the world."

George looks up from reading a comic book in Netflix's Lockwood & Co

George and Lockwood's bromance is upended by Lucy's arrival. (Image credit: Netflix/Parisa Taghizadeh)

As the underdog agency’s newest recruit, Lucy’s arrival upends the brotherly bond between Lockwood and George. Understandably, it takes time for the pair to adjust to Lucy’s ideas and personality – and her to theirs – which provides plenty of delightful, dysfunctional family-based drama and witticisms.

"Lucy’s arrival becomes a milestone in their individual and collective lives," Chapman explains. "Her honesty and openness force them to look in the mirror, and try to make peace with their own pasts and insecurities in a way they might necessarily want to."

"George really enjoyed what he and Lockwood had pre-Lucy," Hadji-Heshmati adds. "Their little bromance changes when Lucy comes along, and I think George fears becoming the outsider in a group of outcasts. He also worries for Lockwood’s safety, as he has an audience in Lucy to play up to now, who won’t ridicule him like George does and might make Lockwood more reckless than he already is."

Scaring the competition

A ghostly skull screams at someone off screen in Netflix's Lockwood & Co

Lockwood & Co offers thrills and scares aplenty. (Image credit: Netflix)

With its ghoulishly terrific blend of supernatural horror, action, drama, and humor, Lockwood & Co has the potential to be one of the best Netflix shows for some time. In our Lockwood & Co review, we said it’s "one Netflix series you won’t want to ghost" thanks to its "compelling fictional universe, labyrinthine lore, unearthly and dread-inducing atmosphere, and irrepressible cast."

Even so, Netflix’s wealth of top-tier supernatural-centric shows means Lockwood & Co, like its enterprising trio, has a fight on its hands to be relevant in a packed genre. From Stranger Things season 4 and Wednesday, to The Sandman and Cabinet of Curiosities, the competition for viewers’ attention is as fierce as it’s ever been. 

Cornish, though, is hopeful Lockwood & Co is distinctive enough to appeal to all ages – and jumpscare some of its peers along the way. If it’s successful, Lockwood & Co won’t make it onto our Netflix canceled shows list, meaning it’ll be in line for renewal. With more captivating material to mine from Stroud’s novels, too, there’s plenty of story, world-building, and character arcs to adapt for TV.

"I guess I’m trying to make stuff that I enjoyed when I was younger where I could see myself in these spectacular fantasy adventures," Cornish says. "When I was a kid, I had amazing Steven Spielberg movies. When I was a teen, I had John Hughes’ fantastic films, so it was as if culture was catering specifically to me.

"At the same time, this is a very grown-up show. I didn’t have to write it from the ground up as I had these five amazing books to build upon. It’s got brilliant adult characters, the world is drawn in a very sophisticated way, and it’s going to be aspirational for kids and teenagers. It’s complex, realistic, and involving enough for adults to enjoy, too. To be handed this rich material, which is so carefully thought out and well developed with these compulsive characters at the center, was a real privilege to adapt."

Lockwood & Co debuts exclusively on Netflix on Friday, January 27.

Senior Entertainment Reporter

As TechRadar's senior entertainment reporter, Tom covers all of the latest movies, TV shows, and streaming service news that you need to know about. You'll regularly find him writing about the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Star Wars, Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Plus, and many other topics of interest.

An NCTJ-accredited journalist, Tom also writes reviews, analytical articles, opinion pieces, and interview-led features on the biggest franchises, actors, directors and other industry leaders. You may see his quotes pop up in the odd official Marvel Studios video, too, such as this Moon Knight TV spot.

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