I'm a big fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events. I've read the whole series and though the ending wasn't quite what I expected, I enjoyed them. The distinctive style of Lemony Snicket, once you've read it, is something that brings a smile to your face, even if he's talking about something tragic. I also liked how things were never black and white, more bordering on gray.
Once my family started reading these books, we tried the Jim Carrey movie. It was fine, but they tried to cover three books in a two hour movie, which made if feel rushed. When they announced that Netflix was going to make it into a series, I was excited and nervous, a phrase which here means, I wanted it to be perfect or else. Would they do a good job? Would it be anything like the series? Would they ruin my beloved books?
It came out in January, and we immediately started watching it. From the first note of the opening song, I was in love. I decided to review the series for all the other Lemony Snicket fans out there, so here we go.
One of the most important casting choices was Count Olaf, the biggest baddy of the whole series. They chose Neil Patrick Harris and he was amazing. As Olaf himself, he was nasty, mean, and said the lines from the book perfectly. In his disguises, he performed just as admirably. To me, he did much better at the role than Jim Carrey. Besides, Neil sang.
Tying with most important is the Baudelaires, since they are the heroes of the story. Malina Weissman (who Supergirl fans may recognize as young Cara) is Violet, and looks perfect. Klaus is played by Louis Hynes, and he was the one Baudelaire that disappointed me. He nor the boy who played Klaus in the movie were quite right. That, however, is just me. Otherwise he was great. And then there's Presley Smith as Sunny. She is so cute. The three children acted wonderfully together and had a excellent family dynamic.
And the second best casting was Lemony Snicket himself. He plays a role in the series as narrator and occasional aside maker. Patrick Warburton plays him, who Disney fans may know as the voice of Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove and Dreamworks fans may know as Agamemnon from Mr. Peabody and Sherman. His role was one of my favorites and it was nice that he wasn't just a shadowy figure.
The other series regulars, Mr. Poe *cough*, and Count Olaf's acting troupe, were picked and played well. Mr. Poe's cough was perfect, as was his super annoying, not at all helpful personality. One of the changes they did make was that his wife is the reporter for the Daily Punctilio who comes in a lot later. The acting troupe is fun, but my personal favorite is the hook-handed man, who is scary, funny, and speaks baby.
Lastly we have the people that come and go from book to book. Mostly guardians. The casting continued to be great. (Though I preferred Billy Connolly as Uncle Monty, one of my favorite guardians. Then he dies. Sorry for the spoiler.) It's interesting because they used people of all races in this series, unlike the all white casting from the movie.
Don't worry if you haven't seen this yet, I won't spoil it. But I am going to talk about what they did with turning the books into a series.
Each book was turned into two episodes, which I suggest watching back to back, so you don't forget anything. They range in time from forty-five minutes to almost an hour. This set up was perfect, giving each book the proper amount of time to be fully enjoyed. Season is the first four books, The Bad Beginning to The Miserable Mill.
The episodes start with the cheerful notes of the show's theme song- "Look Away", sung by Neil Patrick Harris. Lemony narrates, as normal, and even stands inside of scenes as they go on around him. Other times he'll suddenly pulls you away from the narrative to have one of his asides. They did a great job of making feel like the books. Many of the lines were exactly the same.
But at the same time, it was different. They had comedic moments to help lighten the mood. And yes, they changed things, but since Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, was the writer of the show, I think he knows what he's doing. It sounds like the series will end the same, but takes a slightly different path to get there. I liked the changes they add. There is more drama and side plots, like a mysterious agent who is helping the Baudelaires.
|Or what about these mysterious people?|
Fans who have already read the books will be sure to catch several references to other parts of the series. Like at one point when Count Olaf mentions not being able to find a sugar bowl *wink wink*. Plus, the orphans get in so many Very Frightening Dilemmas.
There were a few things I didn't like. I didn't care for how they made Sunny speak. She didn't say those adorable words like she did the book, just baby sounding noises. (Though the subtitles are handy.) And Sunny and Dr. Orwell didn't get in a tooth and sword battle. I was looking forward to that.
Though be warned. There is a major plot twist at the end of the series that is sure to crush your soul and weep with anger at Netflix. I won't say what, I'll just say they did a great job of misdirection. The season one finale is everyone- the orphans, Count Olaf, Mr. Poe, and Lemony- singing a song even cheerfuller than the open credits one titled "That's Not How the Story Goes". It will leave you so sad for the characters.
I think Netflix did a great job on the series, and can't wait for season two, which is rumored to contain the next four or more books. Until then I'll be re-watching season one and reading the All the Wrong Questions series.
Let's talk! Are you a Series of Unfortunate Events fan? Did you like the Netflix series? What about the movie? Tell me in the comments.