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Stream It Or Skip It?

Apple has done a good job with creating family programming that’s entertaining for both kids and parents. Most of their family shows don’t talk down to kids and there are more than enough references and clever jokes to make parents not want to run and hide. Their latest in the genre is about two surfing preteens who get involved in some supernatural adventure.

Opening Shot: Two girls run out with their boards into the surf.

The Gist: Sam (YaYa Gosselin) and Jade (Miya Cech) are best friends in the tiny beach town of Surfside, but they’re very different. Sam is more into the supernatural, while Jade loves going to science camp — “sci camp” as she calls it — during the summer. As they go out and try to catch a huge wave, Sam is knocked under, and emerges in a cave. A weird light emerges, a voice says “Help me!” and a coin lands on the ground.

Sam is excited, but Jade thinks her friend is being a bit strange. Her father Bob (Jacob Vargas) is busy making spicy creations at his popular burger joint, and her mother Monica (Catia Ojeda) is trying to get people to be on a committee to save a local landmark named Danger Point. The rock formation is crumbling and threatening to collapse.

As Sam continues to try to convince Jade to help her explore, the coin keeps moving and giving Sam more clues, whether it’s moving a flashlight towards a Danger Point poster or splashing relish on a different copy of the same poster. She’s so eager to find that cavern again, she goes out in dangerous surf to do it.

But Jade uses her scientific knowledge and figures out that the coin she has is real gold, not a replica like is sold at the museum, where her sister Amy (Michelle Mao) works. They go to explore the cave, and out of the walls, Sam sees the ghostly — but very real — teen Santi (Spencer Hermes-Rebello), dressed like he sails on an old Spanish galleon. Little do the girls know what’s awaiting them when Santi takes them through that cave wall.

Surfside Girls
Photo: Apple TV+

What Shows Will It Remind You Of? Surfside Girls is part Julie And The Phantoms, part Ghost Writer.

Our Take: Based on the graphic novels by Kim Dwinell, Surfside Girls is a bit old-school and goofy, but that’s part of its charm. With Jade and Sam we have two girls who think they’re opposites, but they have much more in common than they think. Why else would they be such good friends, right? Sam may be more into supernatural signs and signals and Jade more into science and facts, but they both have an adventurous streak and they push each other to do things you don’t always see from 12 year olds.

The girls’ parents and siblings are portrayed as normal parents and siblings, not dimwits who don’t understand their kids or get in their way of their adventures. In fact, they let their girls do all sorts of stuff without supervision, trusting them to keep their wits about them. There some Full House-style inspirational speeches, like when Bob tells Sam that it’s good to be a little strange.

There will be lessons to be learned and minor conflicts, like when Sam doesn’t feel like she fits in with Jade’s sci camp friends, but it feels like most of the show will be Jade, Sam and the ghostly Santi trying to save Danger Point. Sounds like a fun show for both kids and their parents, doesn’t it?

What Age Group Is This For?: Surfside Girls is a show that will appeal to kids 7 and up, especially the adventure parts.

Parting Shot: Santi shows the girls the Obsidian Flyer, “the fastest galleon in all of the seven seas.”

Sleeper Star: Jacob Vargas plays Sam’s dad Bob with an endearing goofiness that makes us want to parent like he does.

Most Pilot-y Line: When Jade points out to Amy that she’s eating frosting, Amy replies, “It’s a snack! Anyway, two more spoonfuls and I get my recommended filling of riboflavin, whatever that is.”

Our Call: STREAM IT. Surfside Girls is a show that preteens and young teenagers should find fun, with lots of mystery and supernatural events. And it’s not grating, which is why it should appeal to parents.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.com, Fast Company and elsewhere.

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