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TV Review: Netflix’s ‘Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp’

Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp is an eight-episode prequel series to the 2001 film from David Wain and Michael Showalter that has gone on to become a cult classic, in part due to the star power of the cast. In addition to the many returning stars, including Paul Rudd, Amy Poehler, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks and Janeane Garofalo, the Netflix series, launching Friday, will bring in Josh Charles, Kristen Wiig, Jon Hamm and more. The following are reviews from TV critics around the web, compiled by B&C.

“Getting all the original actors back, plus all these bonus ones, feels like a miracle that I wouldn't count on Wain and Showalter being able to pull off again. But if they wanted to tell a story where Andy, McKinley, Susie and the rest were all campers at Camp Pinewood — preferably filmed after the actors have had even more time to age — I would love to see it. Though I suspect I'd enjoy it more as a Netflix movie than another Netflix TV season.”
Alan Sepinwall, HitFix

“It’s not clear if First Day of Camp will, in toto, achieve the ecstatic heights of its predecessor. Maybe it’s enough that, moment to moment, it makes you laugh.”
Keith Uhlich, The Hollywood Reporter

“That’s the hopeful, silly, sweet spirit of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp–you’re only as old as you say you are.”
James Poniewozik, Time

“Nothing happens in a vacuum, and this spinoff arrives amid a wave of TV reboots, many of them rooted in a kind of odd ’80s and ’90s nostalgia. For those whose similarly themed projects are still on the launchpad, they could do worse than to take a look at Showalter and Wain’s road map in devising their quirky trip back to the future.”
Brian Lowry, Variety

“There probably isn’t enough material in the Wet Hot concept to make a sequel film, but the dirty little secret of First Day of Camp is that there really isn’t enough to make an ongoing series, either. But the one thing about the series is that you can take it in small bites, and that’s pretty smart.”
David Wiegand, San Francisco Chronicle

“Ostensibly, there is a thread tying the series together—a mysterious toxic ooze has been found at the camp—but it’s all just an excuse for creators David Wain and Michael Showalter to craft more hilariously absurd, endlessly quotable moments (plus a ridiculous Reagan impression) that will more than satisfy fans of the movie.”
Ray Rahman, Entertainment Weekly

“Some of this will make you laugh, some of it won’t, but it all feels pretty good. Don’t sweat it, it’s summer camp.”
Willa Paskin, Slate

“Like the film that spurred the series, First Day of Camp is consistently amiable, but never touches on anything especially intimate or personally revealing, either about its creators or the business, experience, and interpersonal development that occur at these kinds of camps. Rather, the series ultimately feels like a nostalgia trip, less for the era in which it's set than for the original film that spawned it.”
Chris Cabin, Slant Magazine