Review: Raising Dion

Ja'Siah Young and Alisha Wainwright in Raising Dion

Raising Dion tells the story of a 7 year old who discovers his superpowers by accident. His newly single mom struggles to keep him safe from the giant electrical storm that wants him.

Michael B. Jordan from Black Panther stars as Dion’s father, Mark. Michael B. Jordan executive produced Finding Dion, which brings a young Black superhero to a demographic eager for such representation.

As the story begins Dion (Ja’Siah Young) and his mom Nicole (Alisha Wainwright) are settling into a new apartment and a new school after Dion’s dad disappeared in a storm.

Ja'Siah Young in Raising Dion

Dion sends his cereal into a spin one morning, to his and his mom’s surprise. He uses his superpowers in inappropriate ways – like while trying to make friends at school. Once they realize what’s happening, his mom works hard to help him learn to control his powers.

Mark, Dion’s dad, was a scientist. Mark’s best friend Pat (Jason Ritter) is Dion’s godfather. Pat helps out Nicole by taking Dion to school and out for pizza. When Dion’s superpowers surface, Pat wants to be his mentor and stick close to him.

Through flashbacks and strange electrical events in the current time, we learn Dion’s origin story. Mark, Pat, and several others were in Iceland to observe an aurora event. Something unusual happened there. The people there left with powers. We don’t learn what Mark’s powers were, but he passed powers on to Dion.

We meet some of the others who were in Iceland. Mark drowned saving Charlotte Tuck (Deirdre Lovejoy) in a storm. Charlotte can make herself invisible.

When Charlotte meets Dion, she teaches him to make himself invisible, too. But Dion can do more than that. He can levitate things. He can move himself to a different location. He can heal. He can shoot electricity out of his fingers. He’s an all-purpose superhero.

Another Iceland person we meet is a farmer named Walter Mills (Marc Menchaca). He can make plants grow. His son Brayden (Griffin Robert Faulkner) inherited powers from his dad, like Dion. If there is a season 2 of this series, Brayden will be a big player.

The powers seem related to weather events and localized storms that are generated by a giant electrical force that looks like what Dion calls Crooked Man. The scientific organization that Mark and Pat worked for, Biona, is interested in these storms. Suzanne Wu (Ali Ahn) heads up Biona. There’s always a question about whether Suzanne Wu and Biona are good or evil.

The weird thing is, the storms and the Crooked Man seems to be hunting down everyone from Iceland, everyone with powers.

Michael B. Jordan, Alisha Wainwright and Ja'Siah Young in Raising Dion

Once, when Nicole and Dion are at their cabin by a lake, a storm comes and it’s as if Mark is there – but made of rain. He warns Nicole to keep Dion away from the storms.

Much of the action revolves around Nicole’s efforts to find and keep a job and to keep Dion safe. She rejects advances from Pat, who wants to be around Dion every second, and finds new friends and new work.

Sammi Haney in Raising Dion

Dion’s life revolves around school. He reluctantly befriends Esperanza (Sammi Haney). It takes him a while to realize how cool she is. The person he wants to be friends with, Jonathan (Gavin Munn) is a bad boy, skater kid. Eventually the three of them wind up working together on a science fair project about – what else – how to control storms.

Nicole’s sister Kat (Jazmyn Simon) is a doctor. Nicole keeps her in the dark about Dion’s powers until Dion is very, very ill and Kat looks after him in the hospital.

The twists and surprises in the plot were well done. The action scenes were exciting and suspenseful. The relationship between the struggling single mom and her superpowered son was wonderful. I really felt for Nicole and her problems as a single parent.

Overall thoughts about Raising Dion

There were women behind the scenes. That’s a good thing. The series was created and co-written by Carol Barbee, who also served as showrunner. Women directors included Neema Barnette and Rachel Goldberg.

I really liked how Dion was such a normal kid in so many ways. He wanted friends, he sneaked cheese puffs into his bedroom by levitating them, he played with Legos, he made a cape from a towel, he wanted a dinosaur cake for his 8th birthday. Ja’Siah Young’s acting was uneven but adequate.

Sammi Haney in her wheelchair was the most interesting of the child actors. She’s quite a personality and teaches Dion several life lessons as they become friends.

Alisha Wainwright as Nicole carried much of the emotional weight of the story. She was the worried mom, but she was also the undervalued employee, the loving sister, the brilliant dancer, and the grieving widow.

Jason Ritter as Pat had the other major role. He was suitably nerdy and awkward and he helped explain the sci fi underpinnings of the superpowers of the characters.

I know Raising Dion is aimed at young kids, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I think kids will especially enjoy the special effects. In the same way that Black Panther galvanized an entire generation of adults, I think the young Black superhero in Raising Dion will galvanize an entire generation of youngsters.

There’s so much potential for additional stories around these characters, I hope more seasons materialize.

Raising Dion poster

Take a look at the trailer.

Advertisements

You have an opinion about this topic. Yes, you do. Share it here.