Finding adventure, finding dad
A father seemingly returns from the dead to guide his youngest son through childhood through the pages of a book he created in a drama-fantasy series currently streaming on Amazon.
In “The Dangerous Book for Boys,” Chris Diamantopolous (“Silicon Valley,” “Good Girls Revolt”) stars as Patrick McKenna, a whimsical inventor whose untimely passing has left a hole in the lives of wife Beth (Erinn Hayes, “Childrens Hospital”), sons Dash, Liam and Wyatt (Drew Logan Powell, Kyan Zielinski, Gabriel Bateman), aging hippie mother Tiffany (Swoosie Kurtz, “Mike & Molly”) and flaky brother Terry (also Diamantopolous).
Except to Wyatt, the youngest, Patrick isn’t really gone. In the opening episode, a series of notes and hints dad left behind point the boys toward a book he created for them called “The Dangerous Book for Boys,” a guide to childhood that sparks the boys’ imaginations and reconnects Wyatt to his dad through a series of fantasy sequences.
Bryan Cranston (“Breaking Bad”) and Greg Mottola (“Superbad”) created the series, which is based on an actual book of the same title, a how-to on navigating childhood with topics including fishing, how to build a tree house, famous battles and other touchstones of youth.
“There’s something so wonderfully bespoke about ‘The Dangerous Book for Boys’ on every level,” Diamantopolous says, “and it’s sort of art imitating life. You know, the original book, the source, is this compendium of handmade adventures for boys, basically, (with the intention to) get them away from electronics, use your brain, use your hands, get dirty, figure things out, inspire that curiosity, become the little mini-MacGyvers and Sherlock Holmeses and Thomas Edisons and all of that stuff.
“And what’s great is, even though they added narrative elements to the source material, the show, in the way that it was crafted and even, it seems, in the way that it was put together to be rolled out on Amazon, seems to have followed that very special and rarified way of kind of hand-finishing everything, which is really nice.”
The real book has personal meaning for the 42-year-old actor, who bought it prior to his own son’s birth and is now going through the chapters and stories with him. Originally attracted to the series because of Cranston and Mottola, Diamantopoulos believes the lessons of “Dangerous Book” are important and the show itself fills a void in the current TV landscape.
“I remember being excited at the prospect of being able to watch certain shows with my parents,” he says. “Like my dad would come home, we’d have dinner and then we’d sit down, and … I specifically remember watching ‘Family Ties’ together. And by the same token, I remember getting excited about family movies that we would go see like ‘The Goonies’ – something that had something for everyone. … And I just don’t think that programming has followed that adage in any way in the recent past.”
“I think that what we’ve accomplished or what we’ve set forth to accomplish with ‘Dangerous Book for Boys,’ ” he continues, “was very simply to entertain the family at the same time.”