Our dreams for a recreation of a childhood favorite have finally come true. On January 13, 2017, Lemony Snicket’s thirteen novels A Series of Unfortunate Events finally premiered on Netflix as a TV show. Netflix sponsors familiar faces in the up-and-coming show based on the unfortunate, miserable tale of the Baudelaire children: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. Following a terrible fire in the Baudelaire Mansion, the three children become orphans with a fortune left behind by their parents. However, they are thrust into the claws of their money-mongrel, actor-in-training, distant relative, Count Olaf. The books follow the trio through constant trials and tribulations, where they seek to discover why their family had perished in a mysterious fire and to escape Count Olaf’s hungry clutches for their fortune.
In the 2017 rendition of Lemony Snicket’s infamous series, familiar names immediately pop up in the opening scenes. Neil Patrick Harris, known for his role as Barney Stinson on the hit comedy sitcom How I Met Your Mother, sports the wispy, pointed goatee and receding hairline of his eccentric character, Count Olaf. Well-known actor Patrick Warburton, also known as Family Guy’s favorite paraplegic police-man Joe Swanson, takes on the role of Lemony Snicket himself. Warburton appears in the background of most scenes, narrating the misfortune of the children every where they go, adding to the dark comedy relief the series is known for.
A Series of Unfortunate Events also introduces some lesser-known faces. Malina Weissman, who plays the eldest sibling Violet, bares a striking resemblance to Emily Browning’s rendition of Violet Baudelaire in the 2004 movie adaption. Although receiving less than positive reviews due to its hurried plot and strange twists that did not occur in the novels — only making it as far as The Wide Window — Jim Carrey’s portrayal of Olaf was a superb adaptation. Alongside Weissman, newcomers Louis Hynes and Presley Smith portray young intelligent Klaus and nibbling Sunny respectively.
Daniel Handler, the show’s head writer and Lemony Snicket himself, commented on the unconventionality of the show, not entitling himself to any “originality” that comes from the novels themselves. Handler’s series depicts complex antagonists and protagonists, who all withhold dangerous secrets from the Baudelaire trio. Eventually opening up into an international conspiracy theory developed by Olaf and his band of anti-intellectual, brutish, evil actors, the good guys are always the informants, the intellects, the “book-worms”. Handler and director Barry Sonnenfeld, who was supposed to direct the 2004 movie adaption, were the first people to sign up for the proposal. However, Sonnenfeld backed out of filming nearly ten months before hand and Handler was released after only 8 drafts of writing for the film itself. “Corporate shakeups” according to Handler, were crucial pieces to the puzzling question of why the movie never received any sequels.
At first, Handler wasn’t convinced on how creative the show could be in episodic format. However, his series would not suffer under the Hollywood stigma of being created for the sake of pretty faces, explosions, and just selling a movie to the world for the sake of making profit.
Instead, the Netflix series intends to follow the series from beginning to end in one-hour, two episode format. Each book receives two hours to recount each of the series, transitioning into the next book effortlessly every two episodes. ASOUE fans will be pleased to note that each set of episodes sticks strictly to the book, with added sarcasm, dark humor, and a much more consistent appearance of Warburton/Snicket in more than one episode, as Snicket is documenting the children’s lives in his series.
A Series of Unfortunate Events debuted around the same time during the Harry Potter series by british author and blogger J.K Rowling, marking it as one of the earliest books for millennials to become attached to. Although the underdog in comparison to the immense popularity for Hogwarts and Harry’s heroic tale to overcome the Dark Lord, Netflix’s premiere of Unfortunate Events provides an equal playing field for the understated series, giving long-time fans the moment they’ve been waiting for: a finished cinematic product.
By Azia Lualhati