Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events: a Recommendation

Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is an adaptation done right. The eight 50 minute episodes remain somewhat faithful to the children’s novels. This is not surprising as Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket), the author of the original series, wrote the script for the first season. What’s more is that the show has its own charm and is its own distinct piece separate from the books. The Netflix series certainly adopts a darker tone than the 2004 film adaption but adds some humour, making this one terrific series to binge watch, whether you have read the novels or not.

The story follows the Baudelaire children – Violet, Klaus and Sunny – who have just lost their parents in a fire. The children are sent to live with their new guardian, Count Olaf, who will stop at nothing to obtain the Baudelaire orphans’ fortune left to them by their parents. The cast, especially Neil Patrick Harris who plays Count Olaf in this adaptation, do a wonderful portrayal of their characters that immerses the viewers in the story.

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In the Netflix series, some minor characters take on larger roles. This includes Mr. Poe, the banker with the never-ending cough, and Count Olaf’s henchmen. Mr. Poe leaves the viewers with the impression of a very foolish banker who never seems to believe the things that children say. His behaviour left me a bit frustrated but whenever the children seemed to get into a dire predicament I was relieved to see him rescue the children. However, Count Olaf’s henchmen were always a welcome sight. They provided the comic relief to break up the melancholic and hopeless segments even though their arrival signaled some diabolical intent. Furthermore, some new minor characters were added to the mix. I won’t spoil any of them but their addition certainly gives the plot a twist towards the end the season.

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Unfortunately, there were certain things that did not go so well in the series. One of them was the use of CGI to portray Sunny during some brief scenes such as her super-powered chewing. I understand having a baby do the complex actions detailed in the novels would be difficult, but the CGI detracted from the immersion. One more thing that truly bothered me, but might not have for other viewers was the defining certain words by the narrator, Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton), as is done in the novels. This aspect, although not done too frequently, made me feel a bit distant from the story, especially when it was an interesting scene. Apart from these two points, the show executed things to near perfection.

Overall, Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is a blast to watch and one especially worth binge watching for children and adults alike. The story and its characters make the show excel and they don’t get bogged down by things that weren’t done so well. If you’ve got eight hours to spend during the week, I’d recommend watching it and hopefully, like me, you’ll find the hours well-spent.

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