On September 30th 1999 the first book in a tragic tale concerning the three Baudelaire orphans was published, five years later on a cool November morning a bored teenager unsure of what to read while waiting for the sixth Harry Potter book discovered them. In these books was a dark story filled with shout outs, a phrase which means to pay tribute to or to give reference to another piece of work, and dark, dark humor which although entertaining through the first reading of these books would lead to utter depression rereading said books knowing that yes, things got worse and worse. Oh and various descriptions of food and possibly some morals based from the Jewish faith and tradition.
The series that I speak of is A Series of Unfortunate Events by a man named Lemony Snicket and not at all associated with an individual named Daniel Handler. It is mere coincidence that along with my discovery of the series in the year 2004 there was a movie from the company known as Nickelodeon based on these books with what looked like a promising film series to rival the likes of J.K. Rowling, Warner Brothers, and Harry Potter. There are various words that can be used to describe this film and somewhere on the internet there is a forum where a young fifteen year old fan used a variety of words and vulgarity, a word which here means inappropriate and unpleasant, to describe his distaste and lack of satisfaction with the film to put it lightly.
The boy in this blog post enjoyed the books released since the fateful day he discovered A Series of Unfortunate Events, reading through each book within a day learning many things from these books despite the target audience being significantly for absolutely no one ever. And during a year when this boy felt sad, reading the last book gave him hope. Since that day there had been silence from Lemony Snicket until 2012 where a prequel series known as All the Wrong Questions was announced and as of 2015 has concluded.
In the fall of 2015 though it was announced A Series of Unfortunate Events would be adapted to a television show on the internet streaming service known as Netflix. Fans were overjoyed that a more faithful, a word which here means sticks closer to the source material in terms of what happens in the books and the tone of said books as well. A former but successful child star known as Neil Patrick Harris would be replacing a washed up comedian, but talented painter as the villainous Count Olaf. And finally as of last January, Friday the thirteenth this series premiered on Netflix. This is the review of A Series of Unfortunate Events, the tv show.
Spoilers, a term which here means a highly detailed synopsis of what takes place during the story, will be present after this bold text. As homage to Mr.Snicket I would rather you slam your computer shut, place your phone in airplane mode, and toss your tablet outside of a moving vehicle hoping it doesn’t kill a pelican, and find something better to do like donate money to MyASPCA, Puppies Behind Bars, The Trevor Project, or read a book by Cody Wagner, or read a book review by a very nice woman with three cute puppies.
I must admit watching the televised adaption of the beloved books of my youth was very enjoyable. One of the benefits of adapting books to television is the opportunity to have the book accurately transformed into a form of viewing for the audience. However, like most things in life even when a book is adapted to television isn’t always enjoyable. With the participation of Daniel Handler (whom I’m not too sure why he is so heavily associated with Lemony Snicket), events and plots that were not present or known to the reader of the first four books in A Series of Unfortunate Events.
As mentioned in the above text, Neil Patrick Harris would be portraying the villainous Count Olaf, and was dark, fearsome, and even at times, funny. The cast of the series was diverse, a word which means to have different people represented, averting having a prominently Caucasian cast of actors in a television show thus giving a wider world view to the poor children brave enough to watch each tragic episode and telling producers and talent agents that you can hire any race or ethnicity to play a role.
The expansion of each book per episode was enjoyable, it gave the opportunity to explore the depths of side characters in each story beyond their original intended purpose and foreshadowing future travesties that would affect the Baudelaire orphans. Characters like Justice Strauss, Dr.Montgomery Montgomery, Josephine Anwhistle (who is not played by her dame Meryl Streep in this adaption) are now more fleshed out beyond a neighbor, a herpetologist, and a scary cat.
The tone of the television show followed the books closer than any film adaption ever could. However at times I couldn’t help but be reminded of a television show created by Bryan Fuller that premiered in the fall of 2007 and because of a writer’s strike was cancelled by the ABC network. The artistic direction of each set was wonderful and interesting to look at for both fans of the book series, fans of art, and people who need the internet and social media to dictate to them what to watch on Netflix rather than deciding for themselves what they should and shouldn’t watch. I’d rather they watch something with strong female characters overcoming challenges presented to them in their life, but then again this show also has that.
There are a few shocking twists and turns in the television adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events, even for those who have read A Series of Unfortunate Events, The Beautrice Letters, and All the Wrong Questions complete with a Red Herring, a phrase which here means something that appears to be of importance, but is a distraction from the main story, within this adaption.
I will give the Netflix Adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events one mansion on fire out of five, because I can’t fathom why people would want multiple mansions on fire.