A series of unfortunate Events has always been one of my favorite book series growing up. Then there was the Jim Carrey movie, which I also very much enjoyed but since it didn’t do well at the box office and no sequel was made, so naturally I was looking forward to this show and it thankfully delivered on it’s promise, which was rebooting the series but also keeping it fresh and not making a complete copy of the original movie, which had already adapted the first 3 books.
Neil Patrick Harris stars this time around as the sinister villain Count Olaf who plans to steal the Baudelaire fortune after a fire burns down their mansion and “supposedly” kills their parents. He then plots numerous schemes and puts on numerous disguises to fool everyone in order to get his hands on their parent’s fortune.
Harris is terrific in the role and he’s the villain you love to hate. He can be charming, scary, funny and creepy all at once and he perfectly inhabits the character from the books. Malina Weissman plays Violet, a young inventor who puts her hair up in a ribbon when she is thinking about inventing something. The actress, who is replacing Emily Browning in the role is great and makes the role her own and she has really good chemistry with her brother Klaus, played this time around by Louis Haynes. Pressly Smith plays the role of Sunny Baudelaire and all three child actors do a terrific job for their age, since the entire show rests on their shoulders and they do a fantastic job leading the series. The decision to split the books into two episodes was a very good decision, since it gave more time for character development. Patrick Warburton has also a fair amount of screen time as Lemony Snicket, who is the narrator of the series as he breaks the fourth wall to inform some things the audience just like in the books. Warburton is fantastic as Lemony Snicket and he’s an interesting narrator, for we get to know him just as well as the Baudelaire orphans and Count Olaf.
The production design of this show is absolutely outstanding. It looks great and the colors are vibrant and gloomy but also dark and dreary when they need to be. The writing of this show is also very clever and fresh. There are some clever jokes inserted throughout and there is some self referential jokes in this show that had me gut busting laughing; it was a smart piece of marketing that didn’t feel out of place.
My favorite episode would probably be the pilot, since it reintroduced us perfectly into this world and these characters. Every two parter brought something new to the table and I loved how the season concluded since not everything was answered but it was still satisfying. I love these characters, and it will be interesting to see how they involve in the future seasons.
As for flaws, there is a major change from the books that I’m not going to get into because of spoilers but it involves the characters played by Cobie Smulders and Will Arnett, who are great in this show, but it’s a change that I’m not entirely sure what to think of yet. It will be interesting to see where the filmmakers are taking the storyline and how drastically it will change the series ending from the books. The show is also a bit too fantastical and sometimes has trouble balancing between being grounded and the whimsical. There are aspects of the show that are dark and realistic but other times when it’s completely unrealistic and the tone shifts several times. For example, there is a scene where a woman is tied to a tree and she manages to get freed by taking the tree with her which is impossible and it takes you out of the show because it’s simply absurd. There are moments like this throughout the first season and sometimes that got a bit on my nerves.
I was also not a big fan of the actor that played Poe. He was annoying and I know that he’s supposed to be clueless but nobody is that stupid and there is no attempt to humanize his character and he’s shown quite a lot, which became a bit frustrating. The formula of A Series of Unfortunate Events is repetitive and it follows certain tropes that if you are a fan of the books are aware off. The Baudelaire Orphans are sent to a new guardian and after a while Count Olaf shows up, disguised and plotting to steal the fortune. Nobody believes the Baudelaire that he (or she) is Count Olaf. This man will do anything to get their money, including murder. We’ll see if the series can keep the formula fresh and interesting with it’s planned three seasons. Even the books became a bit stale after a while, so that will be a challenge that the show will have to overcome.
Overall, this is a fantastic show that has a wonderful production design, great actors (for the most part), a clever script and a wonderful performance from Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf. And while it is depressing and grim at times, it always finds a way to remain fun and imaginative, making us hungry for season 2.