Reviews

TV Review – A Series of Unfortunate Events: S01E01-08

A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Series of Unfortunate Events

Netflix recently released the entire first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events, which is an adaptation of the book series by Lemony Snicket (a pseudonym of the author Daniel Handler), all at once. The Netflix series was executive produced by Daniel Handler and Barry Sonnenfeld.

What’s A Series of Unfortunate Events About?

The first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events follows Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny Baudelaire (played by Presley Smith and voiced by Tara Strong) in the aftermath of the loss of their parents and their family home. Initially, they are brought to live with the villainous Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) by the hapless banker Mr. Poe (K. Todd Freeman). However, in the first two episodes (which adapt the first book, A Bad Beginning), the trio must escape from his villainous clutches and scheme to take their rather large fortune. In the subsequent episodes, the Baudelaire children attempt to find safe havens and answers about the conspiracy in which their parents appear to have been engulfed. Unfortunately for them, they only really find Count Olaf and far too much misery for three children. Other plot threads in the show follow a pair of panicked parents (Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders) who have to go through their own series of unfortunate events before they can get to their children and a secret agent (Sara Canning) from some sort of very furtive department. Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) narrates the series, reminding us that there is nothing benevolent or ordinary about the circumstances in which the Baudelaire children find themselves. 

A Series of Unfortunate EventsThoughts on the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events:

I really liked the first season of the Netflix adaptation. I read the books as a child and I thought that the 2004 movie adaptation failed in several plot respects, as well as stylistically. This adaptation has no such problems. The performances were really well done, especially Weissman and Hynes as the child stars of the series. Aasif Mandvi as the caring Uncle Monty was also a particular standout among the guest actors. Along with adapting the plot of the first four books in the series (which is one book farther than the movie adaptation was able to go), the Netflix series simultaneously dug into the backstory of other characters, some of which will definitely become more relevant in further adaptations. However, if you are looking for a lighthearted story with a happy ending, Lemony Snicket reminds you in the first five minutes of every episode that this show is not one of those kinds of shows. 

Netflix dropped all eight episodes of the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events on Friday, January 13th. There has not yet been an official announcement of a season two, but we can always be optimistic, unlike the Baudelaires.

Notes:

  • Catherine O’Hara appeared in both the film (as Judge Strauss) and in the television series (as Dr. Orwell).
  • I liked how the Baudelaires were generally wearing bright colors to contrast with the darkness of their circumstances and the settings behind them.
  • Great recurring themes in ASOUE: the importance of libraries, the theme song changing each “book” with Neil Patrick Harris singing in the voice of the disguise Count Olaf was in that episode, and people (generally Mr. Poe) assuming that the Baudelaires don’t know perfectly normal words for teens/tweens (Violet is 14, Klaus is 12) to know.
  • Barry Sonnenfeld was initially tapped to direct the original film of A Series of Unfortunate Events but was replaced by Brad Silberling

Have you watched A Series of Unfortunate Events season one on Netflix? What did you think? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below. 


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About the author

Siobhan Dempsey

Siobhan is a 23 year old grad school applicant who aspires to be a human encyclopedia. She reads a sizeable amount of fiction, especially genre fiction. She also watches "too much" televison.

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