The popular book series A Series of Unfortunate Events gets the Netflix treatment and is finally brought to life in the manner it deserves. With Neil Patrick Harris headlining as the villainous Count Olaf and Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket himself, there are a lot of great moments between them and the Baudelaire children in this fantasy world. However, some viewers may find themselves disappointed by other unfortunate aspects.
As a child I grew up reading this popular series, anxiously awaiting for each new entry to arrive to find out what new scenario the Baudelaire children were put in to get away from Count Olaf. Unlike the original movie starring Jim Carrey, Netflix takes the slow and steady approach to the series by developing an eight-episode first season spanning the first four books; each in two part episodes. This gives each book room to breathe and I found myself remembering little details I read that were shown on screen.
The structure of the series is great. By giving the show room to breathe, it brings this fantasy world alive and well with fans of the series. The world is shown in rich colors and dark tones throughout every chapter, and it is a great pleasure to see the Baudelaire orphans be portrayed the way they were written in the books. Neil Patrick Harris plays Count Olaf, and if you’re a fan of his work, you’ll most likely be pleased. In fact, he brings a lot of Barney Stinson humor into the show. Patrick Warburton opens up and narrates each episode as Lemony Snicket, documenting the unfortunate lives of the Baudelaire orphans as they struggle to stay safe. Warburton plays a great job in convincing the audience that we are indeed looking into a real life case of misfortune.
The most disappointing thing about this show however is the fact that they stayed very family friendly. As a reader and fan of the series, I understand why. But if you’re an average Netflix subscriber and are used the mature content they put out, they really missed a great opportunity to turn this world really dark and interesting. I remember reading the books and being frightened by some of the imagery I was picturing by Count Olaf and the many characters that were being written on page. But with this version of Olaf being more of a theatrical performer than a scary villain, and many over the top ridiculous gestures and actions played out on screen, it’s hard to stay fully interested.
With that said though, I am very pleased with this first season. I am truly impressed of how faithful it stays to the literature and respecting each of the characters. It’s really fun to see a proper way to show the The Reptile Room and the first time seeing The Miserable Mill brought to screen. As far as some of the slapstick humor, some of it is excused with the example of Mr. Poe, who is truly a comedic relief and is played out like a fool, but I particularly thought it was funny.
With the first four books covered now, Netflix is sure to be working on at least two more seasons to finish the rest of the series up. Some fans may be disappointed by a certain spoiler within each episode that we really never got any knowledge of in the books, but to move along a narrative in the right way for TV I suppose it’s necessary.
Bottom line, if you are a fan of the book series, you’ll more than likely be a fan of this new adaption. The only thing unfortunate about the Baudelaire’s run ins with Count Olaf, is how desperately hard it tries to be friendly.
Final Score: 8/10
What did you think of the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events? Which part is your favorite?