By Kyeland Jackson —
Netflix, afire with their successes, chose to approach a contemporary classic in Lemony Snickett’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
I admit, I held serious doubts towards the decision and casting. But with Netflix’s rendition, a fantastic show shines through a dreary plot. What the show lacks due to repetition and brevity is eclipsed by fun and wit that brings something new to Snickett fans and newcomers alike.
As warned by the series narrator, this is not a happy story.
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” follows Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, children whose parents die in a house fire. They’re placed under the watch of Count Olaf, played by “How I Met Your Mother” star Neil Patrick Harris, who plots to attain the orphans’ financial fortune left by their deceased parents. Through trickery and quick-thinking by both parties, the witty battles between the Baudelaires and Count Olaf is fun to watch and accented by truly funny dialogue reminiscent of Wes Anderson’s movies.
The show’s comedy parallels tragedy within the plot, making the story a fun watch. However, the comedy sometimes robbed the story of seriousness and robbed some acts of any emotional effect. Coupled with the plot’s repetitiveness after four episodes, bringing increasingly predictable endings, and there’s a noticeable blemish on the show’s appeal. Admittedly, both facts could be a consequence of the book’s writing. The journey to said endings is still a fun one, with quirky adventures and new plot developments
Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes nail the central roles of Violet and Klaus Baudelaire. Their witty retorts and bookish looks accentuate the series but don’t get overshadowed by the sense of camaraderie and care you feel for the two. You truly feel sad for their circumstances and begin cheering their journey to find answers and happiness.
The most talked-about actor in the series, for good reason, is Neil Patrick Harris. Harris plays the villainous Count Olaf fantastically, flinging funny banter and contempt at the orphans with every instance he appears. That comedic element overshadows Olaf’s dastardly deeds and makes it hard to believe he’s capable of evil. With adjustment, Olaf’s funny banter meshes nicely with his vile acts. Count Olaf and Mr. Poe, played by K. Todd Freeman, were personal favorites, bringing fun to the screen every time.
Patrick Warburton, who voiced Kronk in “The Emperor’s New Groove” and Brock Sampson of “Venture Brothers,” plays the role of Lemony Snickett and narrates the series. Though his voice is normally associated with comedy, he plays the role of somber narrator well and chronicles the Baudelaires’ journey with reserved grace.
The music engages beautifully with the show. Used to accentuate action or signify a shift in tone, music is both a piece of the plot and a set of background musings. Genre choice played an effective factor in the score, adding an offbeat quirkiness that matches the show perfectly.
“Series of Unfortunate Events” is a charming and funny show, sure to bring something new to Lemony Snickett readers and newcomers alike. The score is great, the cast is better and the plot, though sometimes repetitive and lacking emotion, is enthralling. I highly recommend watching. With only eight episodes clocking 44 minutes each, it is a great investment.
TLC Rating: 8.5/10