If the definition of a sadist is someone who enjoys seeing the pain of others, then A Series of Unfortunate Events has already begun creating a whole new generation of little sociopaths.
In Netflix’s new adaptation of the Lemony Snicket book series, three children (Violet, Klaus, and Sunny) discover that their parents have perished in a terrible fire. In the aftermath of this tragedy, the orphans are ushered to a new guardian, Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris). However, the Count’s only interest in the children is their enormous fortune. Until it can be seized, he forces them to do remedial and disgusting labor around his decaying household.
Despite the ‘unfortunate’ title and melancholy premise, though, this show uses style, charm, and wit to its advantage. The show’s best quality is that it takes a seemingly depressing situation and turns it into an adventure for the audience.
Our protagonists along this odyssey are what keep it fascinating. Violet and Klaus are fourteen and twelve years old (respectively) and have the smarts that I can only wish I had at that age. They thrive by her remarkable inventions and his well-read mind. It is quirks like these that propel the show and round out the characters into more than just flat, annoying brats. Props to the actors, also, for being convincing and not just confused as to what the camera in front of them is doing. Though Sunny Baudelaire has less to do (as an infant), much humor is centered around her character and it is certainly much appreciated to make the audience appreciate the whole trio.
But, a story is only as good as its villain. Count Olaf, played by Neil Patrick Harris, is an excellent foil to the three children. He is creepy yet charming and cunning yet idiotic. Harris definitely falls into character well and certainly appears to have enjoyed himself while filming the role. Though his makeup is a little over-the-top, it fits with the show’s overall quirky tone. One of my few complaints towards the show is that sometimes Count Olaf is made out to be too much of a fun and weirdly comical character, where his intentions should be painted as more evil than exciting. Nevertheless, the performance was awesome.
In terms of story and flow, the Series has a lot of it. Adapting the first few books of Snicket’s series, many revisions are made from the novels to ensure that unfamiliar viewers will know what is going on. The setup is marvelous and introductions of new characters are handled extremely well. Nothing felt too forced because, if it did, the show would make a meta joke about it.
Speaking of meta, narration in T.V. shows is almost always something that feels off to this viewer. However, the narrator of this show (without spoiling anything) was a key part to tying everything together and was much appreciated in a story that could otherwise feel quite garbled.
One other small critique of the show is that the last three episodes felt a bit more cartoony than anything else. Though the show is a bit fantastical and embraces the absurd, the final three episodes made some moves that were too far for normal suspension of disbelief.
That being said, I am a sadist. Finding entertainment in A Series of Unfortunate Events is quite odd to say at face value. However, tying together the charm and fun of the show with great performances and quirk that works (hey, that rhymed), makes me very excited to see how the future of this series progresses.
But guys, those are just MY thoughts on A Series of Unfortunate Events! Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment section down below. You guys can find more posts from me over on YouTube.com/JohnHayeck or by following me on Twitter @JohnMHayeck. And as always, thank you guys so much for reading.