“This show will wreck your evening, your home life, and your day.” From the not so bad beginning, Netflix’s reboot of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” accurately captures the darkly humorous tone of its source material. But that shouldn’t come as much of a surprise since Daniel Handler, author of the original 13 books, is helping the project as a screenwriter.
The first book, “The Bad Beginning,” was Published in September of 1999 introducing the world to the misfortunate circumstances surrounding the deaths the Baudelaire orphan’s parents. Violet (an inventor), Klaus (a bookworm), and Sunny (who has a penchant for biting things) inherit their parent’s estate thereby becoming the target of the scheming Count Olaf. The entire Series of Unfortunate Events is recorded and recounted by Lemony Snicket who appears to be following in the Baudelaire’s footsteps, investigating mysteries and recording the truth about their tragic lives.
In the new TV series, Patrick Warburton plays Snicket, whose sonorous bass voice and deadpan expression lend gravity to the plethora of comically tragic events, usually brought on by the foolishness of the Baudelaire’s guardians.
Snicket fans will also enjoy the longer-form television medium which adds enough room for all the literary references that made the books so rich. There are also slight plot embellishments, like scenes showing how Olaf convinced Poe to elect him as the Orphan’s first guardian, that help create a more rounded plot.
The show also has a distinctly theatrical atmosphere to it that is reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s films. The contrast between the brightly colored houses and cars is a bit jarring at first to those familiar with Brett Helquist’s somber illustrations, but it quickly becomes balanced out by the tragedy of the events recorded.
One element that seems a bit out of step with the books is the inclusion of slapstick comedy, sometimes seen in the overacting of the children’s protectors, sometimes in their enemies. It reduces most of the adults in the show to bumbling idiots and undermines the truly tragic overtones of the Snicket universe.
All in all, the new Snicket series is a must-see for long time fans, but might be a little more difficult for those just diving in. Read the books first, silly.