By Samantha Plumley – 1851 Staff
Not all stories are happy and regrettably this is the case for the three Baudelaire children. Stamped with the Netflix seal of approval, the latest adaptation of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” comes in the binge-able form of eight episodes. The season follows the first four books of the series written by Lemony Snicket, the pen name of Daniel Handler. Following the bleak journey of the orphaned Baudelaires further than the 2004 movie of the same name ever could, each book is allotted two detailed episodes.
Watching the show is reminiscent of reading the series for the first time by allowing the viewer to use their imagination. The vast differences in landscapes, architecture, and technologies shown prevent the viewer from identifying the setting. Conflicting aspects of various decades are combined in a way making it appear cohesive and timeless. Without a firm setting, the viewer decides where and when the Baudelaires are living. The artificial quality of the show adds to the overall whimsical feel.
The Baudelaire children are Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny (Presley Smith) endure an unpleasant journey starting with the mysterious fire which burned down their home with their parents in it. They are placed with Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) as their guardian, who is after their inherited fortune and will stop at nothing to get it.
Watching Harris as the villainous Count Olaf makes binging the season worthwhile. Harris’ involvement is not limited to acting, as he is credited as a producer for an episode. The over-the-top character is a stereotypical bad actor and Harris uses it to make the show more entertaining. The purposeful overacting of Harris is well done, as opposed to some of the other cast members. Various prosthetics, wigs, and costumes worn add a sense of humor to the show. The Baudelaires easily see through the facade of Count Olaf ’s many disguises, adding to the overarching theme that the children are smarter than the adults caring for them.
Patrick Warburton provides commentary as Lemony Snicket. Rather than simply being a voice, he interacts with the scene, easing the transition to the next. His interruptions can be, at points, jarring and disruptive to the story, but help maintain focus on the children. His character is one of the reasons why the adaptation is true to the books.
The show captures what made the books great. Similar to what is written in the books, the viewer is asked to reconsider watching and is reminded of the reality of the Baudelaire’s situation. “In this story, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle,” said Snicket. You’ve been warned.