Netflix has had a pretty good run with its original programming so far. Whether the company is reviving fan favourite series' like Arrested Development or teaming up with the biggest names in the movie industry to bring us shows like Daredevil, the streaming service has cemented itself as one of the most important television developers in the business. However, with its latest milestone release being a prequel to a poorly reviewed cult hit I had never heard of, there was the potential for Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp to be the streaming giant's first big dud.

And sadly, the first episode didn't exactly inspire confidence in David Wain and Michael Showalter's long-anticipated follow-up. Despite an all-star cast headlining proceedings, First Day of Camp's introductory episode is obnoxious, crass and almost entirely without laughs. At worst, the episode felt like one of the old straight to DVD American Pie films from the early 2000s, and every time the show began to build momentum Wain and Showalter would bring everything to a halt with a lame fart or boner joke. 30 minutes into the series it was starting to feel that the cast, boasting A-listers like Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Amy Poehler, Paul Rudd and Molly Shannon, had gotten themselves into another comedy train-wreck on the same level as the atrocious Movie 43.

But starting with the second episode, First Day of Camp begins to feel like an entirely different show. Although the loudmouthed crass is still intrinsic to the programme's humour, it starts to become less and less obnoxious - and much funnier - with each passing scene. While the initial half hour felt like it was made by someone who was forced to be funny at gunpoint, the episodes that come after are bursting with jokes that feel organic. Even better, the show starts to boast a brilliant sense of self-awareness. One particularly excellent running gag focuses on the cast themselves; already too old to be playing teenagers when the original movie launched in 2001, watching these 40-something actors play 16 year old characters is always charming, and First Day of Camp makes sly references to this fact sparingly enough that it quickly becomes one of the funniest recurring themes of the whole series.

Increasing in intensity as the episodes wear on, it's this type of self-aware silliness that makes Wain and Showalter's revival so infectious to watch. Nothing in Wet Hot American Summer is supposed to be taken even remotely seriously, with its brand of irreverent, odd-ball humour lending itself brilliantly to impressive visual gags. Whether it's with a talking can of vegetables (honestly, it makes more sense in the context of the series) or John Hamm's elaborate super-spy (who, as it turns out, isn't actually that great of a sleuth), each new episode of First Day of Camp continually one-ups itself, creating bigger, sillier, and more elaborate story developments in the process.

However, by its very prequel nature First Day of Camp risks being an alienating programme to those not familiar with the original movie. Fortunately, the revival is just as fun even without any prior knowledge of the series. Because characters and plots can change so much over the course of a few episodes, the lax, tongue-in-cheek approach to continuity means you can jump straight into the first episode of First Day of Camp without feeling like you're drowning in film references or in-jokes. I decided to not watch the original Wet Hot American Summer until after I had finished the prequel series, and as a result I can safely say that First Day of Camp, by not relying heavily on the original movie to drive its story, creates both an accessible starting point for newcomers as well as a subversively familiar return to Camp Firewood for diehard fans.

Likewise, the new, longer format means the TV show is given the luxury of delving deeper into its world and characters. Unlike the film, which often relegated much of its supporting cast to mere background extras, First Day of Camp allows each and every actor a chance in the spotlight. As a result, none of the headliners feel like they're wasting their talent, and the beefed up roles for Bradley Cooper and Amy Poehler specifically allow for some of the most interesting and humorous moments of the entire show. The added depth to peripheral characters might be seen by some fans as ruining the allure of the simple original film, however there's no denying that Wain and Showalter's series feels much stronger because of the added focus.

Overall, Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp acts as both a brilliant introduction to an immensely funny series for younger, less acquainted viewers as well as long-awaited proof that the original film was more than a one-off fluke for long-time fans. Although the first episode is an absolute dud, sticking through the pain is more than worth it because of just how funny, charming and weird Wain and Showalter's series gets. It's over the top, completely dumb, and the jokes rarely land with any grace, but honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way.

All 8 Episodes of Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp are available to stream on Netflix July 31st.