A Series of Unfortunate Events is Worth Watching
A Series of Unfortunate Events is a dark, quirky tale that flourishes in its newest screen adaptation.
As it is a lengthy thirteen book series, we don’t want to give away much of the plot (plus, it would take a bit to go through it all) for those who have not read it. However, a basic plot summary, is helpful background. Essentially, the Baudelaire siblings–Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and baby Sunny (Presley Smith)–are suddenly orphaned after their parents perish in the fire that consumes their house. In the wreckage, Klaus finds a mysterious piece of a spyglass and pockets it to look at later. Mr. Poe (K. Todd Freeman), a bank manager, is in charge of getting the Baudelaires to a guardian and informing them of the enormous fortune the children will inherit once Violet comes of age. Instead of taking the children to the guardian designated by their parents, Mr. Poe is convinced to hand them off to the villainous Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris). He is just after their fortune. So, the Baudelaires must escape Count Olaf and discover the secrets their parents were hiding from them. Oh, and, I should mention, there is an all-knowing narrator throughout the whole series who is sharing the Baudelaires’s story with us: Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton). [It should be noted that the book series is “written” by Lemony Snicket which is the pen name of author Daniel Handler.]
Previously, the book series was adapted once before into a film starring Jim Carrey and Jude Law. Now, it is one of Netflix’s newest series, and this longer form format couldn’t be better. The television show–multiple episodes and seasons–allows the adaptation to breathe a little more. There are more details from the book series, and many of the characters book fans may love get more screen time.
Here are some other reasons why A Series of Unfortunate Events is something you should watch:
The look. The show is stylized in a way that reminds me of a dark version of Wes Anderson and that perfectly brings the books to life. Everything has a quality of coming to life from an imagination or illustration. One of my favorite sets is Uncle Monty’s house with the reptile room and hedge maze.
Lemony Snicket. This device–Lemony Snicket as narrator–is great. He anticipates, he warns, and he dryly explains concepts (in a way that kids would not find off-putting). He is treated much differently in this show as opposed to the film (Jude Law was Lemony Snicket in the film). In this, he seems more active. He appears in scenes where the Baudelaires are, almost as if he is sharing his memories with us whereas in the film, he was just an author writing the tale down.
The cast. Everyone in A Series of Unfortunate Events is well-cast and did performed well. One of the more exciting things about the cast in general, though, are all the well-known actors that popped up throughout the season.Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders were adventuring bada**es. Catherine O’Hara was a fantastic evil hypnotist, Dr. Orwell (fun fact, she was in the film version as well…but as a different character). Alfre Woodard was great as crazy Aunt Josephine. Finally, the hilarious Rhys Darby (playing Charles), Joan Cusack (playing Justice Strauss), and Aasif Mandvi (as my favorite character, Uncle Monty) were all fun to watch.
The themes. Like another wonderful children’s book series (A Tale Dark & Grimm by Adam Gidwitz), in A Series of Unfortunate Events, we see the dangers of adults not listening to children, especially when bad things happen. Another theme is how you have to think for yourself. Such great ideas to be teaching children and sharing with viewers!
Smart is good. Similarly, the Baudelaire children are all very smart kids. Their story shows how ingenuity and knowledge are important qualities. They love books, and many of the adults who are good to them have fabulous libraries.
Photo Credit: Joe Lederer/Netlifx