The Bad Beginning Part 1
The Bad Beginning Part 2
The Reptile Room Part 1
The Reptile Room Part 2
The Wide Window Part 1
The Wide Window Part 2
The Miserable Mill Part 1
The Miserable Mill Part 2
After the successful translation of the popular book series to film, it was always going to be a tough ask to then reboot that again to TV show format. Surprisingly, the TV show far surpasses the film in a well structured, deliciously dark feature that not only nails the tone of the book, but features some great writing and bursts of genuinely funny moments that nail the feel of the series perfectly.
As the first episode starts, we’re warned to look away and turn back as despair and darkness await us. We’re introduced to the Baudelaire children, Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and baby Sunny who’re told within the first minutes of the show that their parents have died in a fire that’s engulfed and destroyed their home. Orphaned and surrounded by incompetent adults while they try to solve the mystery surrounding their parent’s death, they’re thrust into the care of Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) who’s dastardly scheme to steal their inheritance threatens their life. The episodic format works well, with a continuation of the children’s story while each individual tale taking on a different book in the series. Its smartly written and its two part format feels just about the right length to tell each tale before moving on to the next darker and gloomy story.
Its worth noting that Count Olaf is played to perfection. Following the fantastically theatrical Jim Carrey was never going to be easy but Neil Patrick Harris is phenomenal in this role. His performance is not only on par with Jim Carrey’s, it actually surpasses it. There’s just the right amount of episodes here and the costume changes to disguise the character as he continues to try to steal the inheritance are every bit as ingenious as they are hilarious.
Tonally, A Series Of Unfortunate Events absolutely nails the feel of the books. There’s just enough humour to keep it lighthearted but the dark overtones of the show do a good job of keeping the mood suitably grim. The exasperated children who are forever belittled and ignored by the adults garner a decent amount of empathy from us throughout and their writing is every bit as good as Count Olaf’s. At times, it does feel like the show drags and the familiar set up for each episode starts to get a little too complacent by the end but the smart decision to stick with 8 episodes (4 parts if you count the two part stories as one) is wise as it could have very easily grown tedious.
Overall, A Series Of Unfortunate Events not only does the book justice, it hits all the right notes tonally. The acting is superb and the show’s length is perfectly suited so it doesn’t feel like it drags at all. Of course, with a familiar set up with each episode, some people might find it a little too familiar as the last episodes roll by but with such great direction, set design and acting, its hard not to love this Netflix reboot. Look away, look away, A Series Of Unfortunate Events might just be the best family TV show to come out on Netflix this year.