I binged-watched “A Series of Unfortunate Events” this weekend, because obviously.
Hold up. First and Foremost, ASOUE is on my top three list of favorite book series of all-time, coming in second only to Harry Potter. Unfortunately, I know fewer ASOUE fans than Harry Potter fans, because well, most people really assume the series to be for kids — although it is actually a very fun read even for adults. Its dark story line, I think also discourages parents to buy them for their children, I mean, they generally don’t think titles like “The Bad Beginning,” “The Miserable Mill” or “The Vile Village” are apt titles for kids.
However, I love the literary references, the many alliterations, and the lyrical prose of the cynical series, which is why I got really excited that Netflix is bringing it to the small screen. I was very disappointed that producers never followed up on the movie in 2004, so it’s like I’m going back to my childhood.
About this take on ASOUE:
- They are expanding each book to two episodes instead of compressing three books in one movie. This means the first season, which covers “The Bad Beginning” to “The Miserable Mill” covers eight episodes. This move alone is a great improvement to the treatment of the story. Author Lemony Snicket (AKA Daniel Handler) noted that they are already at work for Season 2, so if this two-episodes-per-book treatment continues, fans will have three glorious seasons of the series. Which is perfect. More than that and they will have to move past the canon series.
- Neil Patrick Harris is always awesome. Playing the vile, villainous Count Olaf playing different people and NPH is in his element. However, as a fan of the actor, I saw some hints of Barney Stinson and Hedwig (Robinson), which is not necessarily a bad thing, but that’s just me.
- Expect a lot of deadpan jokes. The series is known for making lighter very real issues of abuse and neglect, so expect a few rather dark, deadpan jokes that could make you burst out laughing during some rather inappropriate times.Or sometimes, they just have random throwaways that reference pop culture or literature, which are also funny.
- They have beautiful aesthetics. Think “Sweeney Todd” meets “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” Gloomingly dull one moment, glaringly bright the next. I dunno you guys, I really found this really endearing, and definitely apt for the series — it’s like they give you hope only to take it away, because obviously, there is no ray of sunshine for the orphans.
- There is a new side story and new characters! They make sensible additions though, so it should not be much of a problem. Besides, we know this is in good faith to the books, as Daniel Handler himself is executive producer of the series, and they definitely have his blessings to these additions.
That said, I will not spoil anything, but unlike Lemony Snicket, I will not dissuade anyone from watching. In fact, I would recommend it, especially if you like watching television shows about incredibly unfortunate orphans.
Series Score: 4/5 Stars