This family adventure drama and dark comedy presents itself as a series of sorrow and woe but in actuality is an intriguing show with an amazingly picked set of actors, a humorously melancholic narrator, a mostly moving plot and detailed set designs. It’s the culmination of these factors that makes the show difficult to look away and easy to binge.
The TV adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is based on the New York Times best-selling children’s novel series of the same name. The story takes place after the Baudelaire parents are killed in a mysterious fire and their three children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny have to overcome absurd obstacles and challenges to unravel their parents’ dark secrets and evade the villainous Count Olaf in his attempts to obtain the Baudelaire fortune.
After beginning this show with low expectations, it was thoroughly surprising to watch a show that lives up to the hype as well as compliments the strengths of the book series. Similar to the book series the show has a dark and hilarious tone, especially when it reminds that you are not in for an uplifting tale with the fourth-wall breaks of the honestly negative narrator, Lemony Snicket (played by known actor Patrick Warburton) and the almost happy endings of the Baudelaire orphans. The first season spans from books one to four with each book taking up two episodes which gave both the writers and the directors the ability to expand the relationships of the characters and the plots of each episode
These group of actors did a spectacular job at creating these beloved characters. Before the show’s release, the pick of Neil Patrick Harris for the role of the antagonist Count Olaf seemed a bit skeptical. Thankfully, it was pleasing to see how after his time as the womanizer, Barney Stinson, on the hit show How I Met Your Mother, he was able to expertly play this mischievous character and balance both the villain’s humor and viciousness. Harris proves to be a great choice for the main role especially through his interactions with the Baudelaire children and his various use of disguises to possess the Baudelaire’s fortune.
The orphans are also well-casted. The eldest child, Violet, portrayed by young actress, Malina Weisman was able to capture the character’s immediate ingenuity and caring command of the other siblings during situations where a quick solution was needed and the morale of the other two siblings had to be boosted. The middle child, Klaus, played by young actor, Louis Hynes provides a strong depiction of the brother’s clever, quick-witted and bookish personality which was noticeable when Klaus was able to find flaws in Count Olaf’s plans. Sunny, the youngest baby sister, played by adorable Presley Smith and voice actor of Rugrats Tara Strong was used as much as possible with the precise use of CGI to highlight her own critical language and her unique biting skills. Adjacent to Harris in terms of scene-stealing was Patrick Warburton who was spectacular as the author and main narrator, Lemony Snicket. Warburton was able to move the plot along if it lagged with funny definitions and examples of certain terms such as misnomer and irrational. Through moments of intensity, sadness, dismay, or gloom his intriguingly dreary commentary and breaks reflected how he flowed in sync with the pace of the plot and the entirety of each episode. Through all the films and TV shows that involved Warburton, this show looks to be his best role. Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss, Alfre Woodard as Aunt Josephine, and K. Todd Freeman as Mr. Poe were a fantastic fit of supporting actors as well.
Each plot of each episode was reasonably paced and was able to input more details about the significance of each guardian and their exclusive involvement with the Baudelaire parents in a secret society. There was, however, a bit of an unstable change of paces with the plot in the first half of episode one and the first half of episode six that could have been tweaked with more direction. There is also some fear that if the series continues into other seasons that each episode might become too repetitive with each two episodes involving the Baudelaire children being sent from one place to the next and Count Olaf always having the uniform objective to seize the orphans and their fortune. The major strengths of every episode were the intricately detailed and practical set designs that made the meta-fictitious and gothic themed world that much more immersive. These practical sets are reflected through multiple amounts of easter eggs that the book’s fans will appreciate and in the designs of each house that mirrors the personality of each guardian. The show overall was a treat to view with the accurate use of the darkly comedic and gloomy tone, the excellent performance from the actors, the great use of narration in the plot, and the expert use of the set as an addition to the plot. Overall, this first season of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events deserves an A-.
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“A Series of Unfortunate Events” Is Hard to Look Away From And Easy to Binge. Courtesy of Netflix.