The following is a review of the first season of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.
First things first, I’ve never read the book series that the show is based on, and while I’ve definitely seen the Jim Carrey film, I cannot say that it was memorable for me. I only really remember how odd Carrey looked. And I’ll say this about the show. This must be the first time I’ve ever encountered a great bingeable show – which here means a show that is easily bingewatched – that tells you not to watch it – to look away – with every chance it gets.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events – based on the book series of the same name – tells the story of how the villainous Count Olaf (played by Neil Patrick Harris) tried to become the guardian of the three Baudelaire orphans – the inventive Violet (played by Maline Weissman), the book smart Klaus (played by Louis Hynes), and Sunny (played by Presley Smith), a baby that can chew through pretty much anything – after their parents died in a fire.
Count Olaf, an actor, wants to become the guardian of the orphans because their parents have left them a great and large inheritance, but the kids won’t receive it until Violet comes of age. However, Count Olaf’s intentions are bad. He intends to treat the orphans poorly until he figures out how to get their inheritance. Along the way, the orphans meet plenty of people that care for them, but they soon learn that adults don’t exactly trust children implicitly.
The first season of the show, which has already been renewed for a second season, adapts the first four books in the book series by Daniel Handler – The Bad Beginning; The Reptile Room; The Wide Window; and The Miserable Mill. There are eight episodes in the first season, and every ‘book’ is covered in two episodes.
I particularly enjoyed the episodes that covered The Bad Beginning and The Reptile Room, but I think all of the four ‘stories’ are thoroughly entertaining, even if The Wide Window got old pretty quickly. It goes for the same fantastical style and tone as Pushing Daisies did – a very underseen show, by the way – and the show, as a whole, is very fun to watch.
I did think that it got a little bit old seeing Count Olaf chase after the orphans, but most of the episodes are really fun in spite of that. That is largely due to Neil Patrick Harris who is just wonderfully mischievous as Count Olaf. I loved seeing him as Yessica Haircut and Stephano especially, and Captain Sham to a lesser extent.
You probably won’t recognize the orphans from anything, but they’re fine. I really liked Malina Weissman as Violet, but I felt that Louis Hynes’ Klaus perhaps mumbled some of his lines. There are also a lot of really great guest appearances. Joan Cusack was really wonderful, but so was Alfre Woodard and Aasif Mandvi.
Look, we live in what is probably the best time for television shows. There are just so many shows to watch, and so many shows people tell you that you need to watch. Therefore, while I do think A Series of Unfortunate Events is a great new show, I’m not going to classify it as must-watch television.
It is the next great Netflix show, but it probably won’t be the next Netflix show people are going to demand that you watch. It is a great show, though, and if you feel like you need a new dark comedy show to obsess over, then this show is for you, even though Lemony Snicket and the show’s theme song tries to tell you otherwise.
– Jeffrey Rex