If you are looking for a blog post about something happy and uplifting you best look somewhere else. I have taken on the responsibility to review (a word which here means share my opinions) about Netflix’s first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but you are not required to read it. I suggest you exit this tab and google “kittens in teacups” or something equally as pleasant. You’ve been warned.
An Imperfect Intro: The original story of the Baudelaire orphans surfaced in the 13 novels written by Lemony Snicket. I personally read about half of the series between grades 4 to 6 and read the entire series over the past two summers in preparation for the show’s premier. The basic story: Three children lose their parents in a fire and are bounced around from one guardian to another while they are hunted by the evil Count Olaf and his theatre trope of henchman. The series also involves a lot of questions, not many answers, and a good deal of obscure references. I enjoyed the book series and the movie remake made in 2004 staring Jim Carrey as Count Olaf. Now to review the Netflix series:
The Crummy Casting: Some people thought Jim Carrey was too goofy in his role as Count Olaf but I personally liked him. Neil Patrick Harris was cast as the new Olaf and while he did an alright job (him as Stefano was the best part), I didn’t like him as much as Jim Carrey. As for the Baudelaire orphans: I liked Louis Hynes as Klaus and Presley Smith as Sunny, but I thought Malina Weissman wasn’t a good Violet (she didn’t portray the character as well as Emily Browning in the film). Lemony Snicket was portrayed by Jude Law in the film, which I liked better than Patrick Warburton in the series. The rest of the cast was good, and I liked that there was more racial diversity in this adaptation than in the film.
The Substandard Setting: The sets were actually pretty good and had a cool Wes Anderson vibe. They definitely drew inspiration from the film (as well as the book obviously) and brought the world of Lemony Snicket to life. The only confusing thing was the time period the series was set in. The cars, phones, and type writers all alluded to a time in the past but Count Olaf says at one point that he bought an hour glass online (it was meant to add humour to a suspenseful moment). While this was a small detail, I think that a lack of internet and current technologies created a huge obstacle for the children in the book series (a telegram becomes their only source of communication at one point) and I think it should have been the same in the series.
The Catastrophic Conclusion: Overall, the casting could have been better, the sets were good, the theme song was annoying, and the changes to the plot (was that Jacqueline lady in the books??) might be for the best depending on how the show continues. I am looking forward to the next season to see how the more strange elements of the books appear on screen (the crabs in the orphan shack, the 4 hour stair climbs at 667 Dark Avenue, the self-sustaining hot air balloon home, etc.). Overall, I did enjoy watching the series and would recommend it! Rating: seven and a half Lachrymose leeches out of ten.