Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – TV Series: 1-4


Picture Courtesy of Netflix


Lemony Snicket’s: A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix TV series is based on the popular children’s books series of the same name.  Each book has its own sub title based on the misadventures of the Baudelaire orphans.  The series consists of 13 titles as follows:  The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, The Miserable Mill, The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital, The Carnivorous Carnival, The Slippery Slope, The Grim Grotto, The Penultimate Peril and The End. The Netflix series begins with breaking down each book into two episodes beginning with The Bad Beginning and ending with The Miserable Mill and the children being dropped off at The Austere Academy. A review for the book series is available on my webpage, but I apologize in advance for the poor quality.

The series follows the three children, Violet the inventor, Klaus the researcher and Sunny Baudelaire the biter whose misadventures begin with a tragic fire that claims their family home as well as the lives of their mother and father.  The children are taken to live with their mysterious relative they have never heard of before, Count Olaf.  Count Olaf claims to be a renowned actor, though his acting skills and that of his troop are sub-par.  Count Olaf hatches a plot to steal the Baudelaire’s immense fortune and the children must try to stop him and his troop of actors before it is too late.  The unfortunate thing is no one ever believes the children, and so Count Olaf is able to scheme and disguise himself in some of the most obvious ways that only the children are able to see through.  Each book/episode follows the children’s narrow escapes as they try to free themselves from the clutches of the evil Count Olaf and alert their string of mysterious relatives and adults that surround them of the danger lurking in plain sight. 

You may remember back in 2004 the movie that came out for the Lemony Snicket series.  The movie took a different approach by selecting only the first three books of the series starting with the first, inputting the second and third books and ending with the end of the first book.  Quite confusing, but they managed to make it work.  The film stars Jim Carrey as Count Olaf and it is hard to watch the Netflix TV series without thinking back to his character and the portrayal.  Neil Patrick Harris takes on the role of Count Olaf in the Netflix series giving his own version of the evil fiend.  I must admit that I preferred Jim Carrey’s version of Count Olaf and often waited for certain scenes or lines that I remembered from the movie only to have them played out in a less appealing way by NPH.  Interestingly enough NPH did a great job in his different disguises that were much more entertaining and fun.  It’s strange that his disguises when he was meant to act as someone else stood out so strong and overshadowed his main character of Count Olaf.  While watching NPH as Count Olaf I’m reminded of his family pictures for halloween when his whole family dresses up in a theme together.  Like in his family pictures I feel NPH’s portrayal of Count Olaf is like playing dress-up rather than acting like his disguised roles.

Something, or I should say someone, you may recognize from the film version to the Netflix series is Catherine O’Hara.  O’Hara played Justice Strauss in the 2004 film version of Lemony Snicket and reprises her place in the Netflix series in the Series of Unfortunate Events story, but as a different character.  O’Hara plays Dr. Georgina Orwell, Count Olaf’s ex-girlfriend.  While O’Hara played one of the good guys in the 2004 film, she flips the script and plays a bad girl as the role of Olaf’s ex-girlfriend in a very stylish dominatrix way.
I had the same issue with the TV series that I did with the books as seen here from my book review page:
“Something that really bothered me about the books is that much of the first few chapters and a few throughout afterwards were telling you that it will be an unfortunate story, and that you should try reading something happier. Something that won’t make you pound your hands in frustration and cry.”
These scenes are done through the narration of Lemony Snicket played by Patrick Warburton, but as my book review was saying…
“At first I went along with it, and I guess for younger readers which it is intended for, it might not be so bad. Or even if you bought each book as is came out so there was time in between. But when you tell me it every book and go on for pages, your starting to piss me off. Another thing that really annoyed me was how the author chose a topic of conversation for the whole book and will randomly go to this topic and say how boring it is and how he will skip all the boring parts and go back to the exciting but unfortunate journey of the Baudelaires, but he continues to yammer on. While doing this, he tries again to get you to stop reading this dreadful, horrible, series of events that should make you cry. I don’t like skipping any section of any book, but I admit I have done so a few times in this series and you literally do not miss a thing. You can see when he is about to go on a rant, and skip forward to where you left off in the story and you wouldn’t be confused or lost because you missed nothing. Interestingly enough he even references it in book 11 p.244 “Klaus’s eyes scanned the page easily, having had much practice in skipping the parts of books he found less than helpful.” Oh so true.
It is also very interesting that in book 11 he openly shows his dislike for the very real poet, Edgar Guest.I think the author may even have something to input here. Book 12 Chapter One “If this is true, then the book you are reading now is the perfect thing to drop into a pond. The ripples will spread across the surface of the pond and the world will change for the better, with one less dreadful story for the people to read…”

I thought that was a rather comical touch. The idea of the story and some of the characters were entertaining. It was fun finding out secrets and all the different adventures, but all in all I would not recommend reading them, unless, like I said you were a very young reader. I would say watch the movie and act like the other books don’t exist.”Unfortunately, my opinion hasn’t changed much, but in this case I would suggest you watch the movie or the TV series rather than touching the books.  The Netflix revamp of the tale is entertaining and you get to take a deeper longer look at each book, including the ones that were not shown in the 2004 film.  It’s difficult not to compare your favourite scenes from the movie to those in the TV series version though.  There are things missing from each that maybe if you were to watch both you could take from each and combine them in your mind to make a whole.The Netflix series is not over as it has left us hanging halfway through the story.  There are many more unfortunate events still to come for the Baudelaire orphans and though I did not fall in love with the series as much as I had hoped I would, I will still be ready to watch the second (or many more) halves to see how they complete the story.


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