Chucky is an American horror television series created by Don Mancini and based on the Child's Play film franchise. It serves as a sequel to Cult of Chucky, the seventh film in the franchise, and stars Brad Dourif reprising his role as the voice of the titular character, alongside Zackary Arthur, Alyvia Alyn Lind, Teo Briones, and Björgvin Arnarson. The cast also includes Fiona Dourif, Alex Vincent, Christine Elise, Jennifer Tilly, and Billy Boyd reprising their roles from previous films.
Developed for Syfy and USA Network, the series follows Chucky as he commits a series of mysterious murders in a quiet city in the United States. Series creator Mancini and producer David Kirschner both serve as executive producers for the series, alongside Nick Antosca, Harley Peyton and Alex Hedlund. The series premiered simultaneously on Syfy and the USA Network on October 12, 2021. It has received generally positive reviews from critics. In November 2021, the series was renewed for a second season which premiered on October 5, 2022. In January 2023, the series was renewed for a third season, which is tentatively set to debut in 2023.
The beginning of the series is set three weeks after the events of Cult of Chucky. In the city of Hackensack, New Jersey, 14-year-old Jake Wheeler buys a Good Guy doll at a yard sale to use it in his contemporary art project during the Halloween season. He later discovers that the doll is possessed by the soul of serial killer Charles Lee Ray, known as Chucky. Jake soon becomes a suspect in a series of strange events involving the doll, who unleashes a wave of shocking murders around the town. Some of the boy's classmates will also see themselves linked to these events. In addition, a series of flashbacks explore Charles's past as a seemingly normal kid who somehow became one of Hackensack's most notorious killers.
Starring mostly teenagers and advertised as a "coming of rage" story, the series tackles themes of sexuality, bullying, domestic life and murder. The main character, Jake Wheeler, finds himself prompted to homicidal acts by the doll while also struggling with his crush on classmate Devon and other issues that arise from being gay in unaccepting environments.
On January 29, 2019, it was reported that a television series based on the Child's Play franchise was in development on Syfy, with Don Mancini serving as the creator. Mancini was also expected to serve as executive producer alongside David Kirschner, Harley Peyton, and Nick Antosca. On January 11, 2020, during NBCUniversal's presentation at the TCA Winter Press Tour in Pasadena, California, it was announced that Syfy had given the production a straight-to-series order, in a deal with Universal Content Productions. While working on the show, Mancini was concerned about the potential impact the 2019 Child's Play reboot could have had in the franchise, speculating that, had it been a success, Universal Pictures could have decided to abandon the original film's continuity. However, the reboot film (made without Mancini's approval) did not affect the TV show, and a sequel has not been produced.
Mancini, who began working for television on the Hannibal series, wanted to "reinvent" the Chucky franchise by bringing it to this format, and subsequently expand its fandom. He took a somewhat autobiographical approach to Jake's character, a gay teenager whose father is not accepting of the boy's "burgeoning sexual and romantic identity". The director cites this conflict as referential to his own adolescence. The show is a direct sequel to Cult of Chucky (2017), where the cliffhanger ending puts the titular character "on the road to a sexual exploration" after he transfers his soul to a female body. As an innovation for the character, Chucky is also used as a metaphor of the real life bully, guising himself to be "charming [and] funny" and manipulating people, what Mancini called "the ultimate bully". By making him close to Jake, whose struggles are related to those of the LGBT community, the series also acknowledges that "Chucky himself has a queer kid" (Glen/Glenda, from Seed of Chucky). According to Decider's Jon O'Brien, "queer characters have been a Child's Play mainstay ever since Bride of Chucky's ill-fated David (Gordon Michael Woolvett) back in 1998", but this series marks the first time they have such a prominent presence. However, Mancini stated that Chucky "is just a psychopath" and "will kill anybody", despite posing as Jake's ally.
On November 29, 2021, USA Network and Syfy renewed the series for a second season. Mancini began working on the first script in December and told Gizmodo that "a lot of the characters that fans love" might reappear in the second season. This was further commented by Jennifer Tilly, who foresaw the return of Glen/Glenda. Despite being disappointed by the initial reception of Seed of Chucky, Mancini was glad that this character was later embraced by queer fans of the franchise, which motivated him to expand their story in season two. Also inspired by Catholic-based horror films like The Exorcist and The Omen, he set the second season on a Catholic reform school, thinking that it would be troublesome for Jake and Devon's relationship to keep unfolding in an environment that is not "exactly down with the gays". This also draws from Mancini's youth, since he grew up under the beliefs of the Catholic Church. He also stated that, at this point, making the show had become "cathartic", and that he began to exploit "specific actors' strengths and interests" with his writing (for example, Björgvin Arnarson's comedic side). The season also marks the reintroduction of the "Wedding Belle" doll, an item from Bride of Chucky that Mancini had been planning to reuse "for quite a while".
Devon Sawa was cast to play the roles of twins Lucas and Logan Wheeler, while Barbara Alyn Woods and Lexa Doig took the roles of Michelle Cross and Bree Wheeler, respectively. Four teenage actors star in the series: Zackary Arthur as Jake, Teo Briones as Junior, Alyvia Alyn Lind as Lexy, and Björgvin Arnarson as Devon. Arthur, whose parents did not let him watch R-rated movies as a kid, had his first introduction to the saga in preparation for his role. Arnarson told Screen Rant that, near the end of shooting, Mancini told him that he wished he had written a slightly different version of his character, and maybe make him interested in stand-up comedy. In regards to Lexy, who evolves from the "classic mean girl" to someone who cares about others, Alyn Lind stated: "I just really wanted to make sure that she knew exactly what she wanted at all times [...] I wanted to make that switch very clear". In the second season they are joined by Bella Higginbotham, who described her character Nadine as "a light" in the Chucky franchise.
Filming for the series was scheduled to start in the fall of 2020, but it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Shooting for the first season officially began on March 29, 2021, and concluded on August 11, 2021, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Square One parking lot in Mississauga was used as a "base camp" for the production team. Tony Gardner and Peter Chevako developed Chucky's look with the goal to make him look exactly like in Child's Play 2. This was because, from Mancini's standpoint, the first sequel seems to be the general fan favorite. It took group of six or seven puppeteers to make Chucky move, which represents 99.5% of the doll's actions, according to Mancini, who has expressed his preference to do things practically over using computer-generated images. Digital effects were only used to erase puppeteers from screen or any implements required by the animatronic, such as rods or cables. A child named Jacob sometimes performed as a double.
Joseph LoDuca served as the series' composer, as he did in Curse of Chucky and Cult of Chucky. For the show, he read the scripts beforehand and waited until the scenes were filmed to figure out ways to add a fitting soundtrack. Piano chords are used sometimes throughout the first season as an accompaniment to Jake and Devon's relationship, since the latter is seen playing that same instrument in the first episode. LoDuca also utilized a detuned toy piano to symbolize Chucky's "feigned innocence" in the first season. A similar theme was used to imply "something more sinister" to what was happening in certain scenes. A different version of the Child's Play 2 theme can also be heard in scenes involving Chucky and Caroline. LoDuca described the score for Tiffany as "lush", which helps present her as a "classic Hollywood vamp", while the flashbacks showing how she and Charles Lee Ray became a couple have a "80's synth vibe". Likewise, the show features licensed music by groups and solo artists like Billie Eilish, Kim Petras, Electric Youth, The Go-Go's, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Shaed, and Rob Zombie, amongst many others.
The series became available for streaming on Peacock after the season 1 finale on December 1, 2021. A week after the American premiere, Chucky premiered on Showcase in Canada on October 19, 2021. It is also available on Star+ for all of Latin America, 9Now in Australia, Mediaset Infinity in Italy and on Sky Max in the United Kingdom and Ireland.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season holds an approval rating of 91% based on 34 critic reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "A bloody good time that benefits greatly from Brad Dourif's return, Chucky may not play well for non-fans, but franchise devotees will find its absurd humor and creative horror very much intact on the small screen." Metacritic gave the series a weighted average score of 70 out of 100 based on 10 critic reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews". 041b061a72