Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Just Add Magic

Just Add Magic

Spring 2017 Television
Ages: 6 - 11 yrs.
Producer: Amazon Studios
Rating: TV Y7

This half-hour live-action fantasy series, available through Amazon Video, revolves around 'tween friends Kelly, Darbie, and Hannah. When the trio stumbles upon an ancient cookbook, they're intrigued by the unusual recipe titles (for example, "Shut 'em Up Shortcake) and the supply of hard-to-come-by ingredients packed in the box with the book. They soon realize they're whipping up more than tasty treats; these recipes actually cast spells, and for a group of middle school girls, that's both an awesome power and an awesome responsibility.

>i>Just Add Magic has a continuing storyline centered on a mystery about one of the girl's grandmothers, who is suffering from an evil curse. In each episode, the friends pursue clues to break that spell but they also grapple with the temptation to use the recipes in their everyday lives, motivating episode-specific storylines.

In the episode titled "Just Add Jake," the girls try to convince their friend that magic is real by testing out a few of the recipes on him. In "Just Add Birthdays," Kelly and Hannah forget Darbie's birthday and they use the magical recipes to make amends. And in "Just Add Camping," the girls engineer a Father-Daughter camping trip to investigate a site they suspect is related to the grandmother's curse. But magic is a formidable force and each time, the girls' efforts come with unintended consequences. As examples, Jake isn't immediately convinced about the powers of the food but when the girls consume it, it sets off a string of quirky consequences that jeopardize a school competition. And those treats the girls cook for Darbie's birthday? Everyone who eats them starts acting weirdly immature and the only way to break the spell is to investigate a local business run by mysterious Mamma P. And the Father/Daughter camping trip leads them to a mystical hiker who reveals more questions than answers.

According to press material, this series is loosely based on the book of the same name, by Cindy Callaghan. The program is well shot and produced with competent child actors; even with the fantastical elements and on-going mystery about the grandmother, the plotlines remain coherent and appropriate. Just Add Magic is a nice little viewing break for kids in the target audience range of 6 - 11.

Gina Catanzarite   ©2017 Parents' Choice
Gina Catanzarite is an award-winning television producer, writer, teacher, mom and media consultant in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She began her career in 1987 and counts 9 Emmy awards, 26 Emmy nominations, a Matrix award, two Pennsylvania Broadcaster's Association Awards, 8 Telly Awards, and a screenwriting grant from the Theatre Association of Pennsylvania, among her professional honors.

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