This past weekend, Netflix treated viewers to a new retelling of Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” The first season focused on the first four books of the 13-book series, with each of the books getting two episodes.
Because each book got two episodes, the majority of the plot details from the books were included in the episodes. While this may seem like a good thing and makes the season much better than the 2004 movie which starred Jim Carrey, it does seem to drag on at certain parts and almost seems to follow the books a little too closely. Of course, that could make complete sense since “Lemony Snicket” (Daniel Handler’s pen name) serves as an executive producer of the TV series and was involved in some of the script writing.
Throughout the eight episodes, there seem to be subtle digs to the movie. Neil Patrick Harris’s character, Count Olaf, is often the one giving the digs, such as him saying he prefers long form television to movies in the third episode of the series.
But while the episodes mostly stay true to the books, there is one glaring change made in the television series that isn’t a part of the books at all. For anyone who read the books, they know that the Baudelaire parents died in a fire, which starts the series of unfortunate events in the lives of Violet, Klaus and Sunny. However, in the TV series, their parents are alive and are being held captive. Even better is that Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders portray their parents, reuniting Harris and Smulders from their “How I Met Your Mother” days.
The standouts, of course, go to the dastardly Count Olaf and his portrayer, Harris, who once again proves that he can take on countless disguises and personalities and still be perfect. But one of the greatest surprises, in terms of acting and characters, is Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket. Warburton, who’s known more for his comedic roles (he played Kronk in “The Emperor’s New Groove”), has the perfect deep voice for a role as morose and depressing as Snicket and proves that he can do more dramatic roles in addition to his comedic roles.
The Baudelaire orphans are also doing well in their roles, but there seems to be nothing entirely special about how they play the roles, almost getting upstaged by Harris, Alfre Woodard (Aunt Josephine) and Aasif Mandvi (Uncle Monty). But that’s the problem when younger actors are paired with legendary actors who share the scenes. That being said, Malina Weissman (Violet) and Louis Hynes (Klaus) both play their roles exactly how they’re written in the books and are still the inquisitive children that readers knew in the books and movie goers saw in 2004.
Unlike the film, there’s little danger this story won’t tell in full, as “A Series of Unfortunate Events” has already been renewed by Netflix for a second season, which will consist of 10 episodes and will cover books five through nine.