Review: “A Series of Unfortunate Events” Season One

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Jenna Heng, Writer

It is difficult to forget about the atrocity that is the movie adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events that was released in 2004. Snicket’s series follows the Baudelaire orphans and the tragic events of their lives following their parents death and proved to be unable to be condensed into a good film. The acting is awkward, the writing is clumsy, and the movie is overall untrue to the book. Due to this movie, I was naturally skeptical when Netflix announced their intent to create a television adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s thirteen book series. Despite my skepticism and due to my love of the books, I watched when season one was released this month. I was pleasantly surprised.

Netflix’s television adaptation follows the basic plot of the book series, which is considerably more than the movie managed to accomplish. Each episode covers the events of half a book. Currently there are eight episodes on Netflix, covering the events through the fourth book in the series, “The Miserable Mill.” Each episode is about an hour long.

A complaint I have long held against the movie version is its inaccurate tone. Through the writing, directing, and acting, the movie adaptation of a dark book series is purely comedic. However, the television adaptation accurately conveys the darkly humorous tone of the books via the writing and excellent acting. Neil Patrick Harris is barely recognizable in his role as Count Olaf as his tremendous acting talent enables him to play the villain and the villain’s various alternate identities.

Season one has only one shortcoming: the portrayal of Lemony Snicket by Patrick Warburton. In the novels, Snicket is a haunted and somewhat emotionless narrator who guides the reader through the events of the Baudelaire children. In the television adaptation, Warburton portrays Snicket as a narrator who finds the circumstances before him entertaining. Although unsatisfying, this does not make the series unwatchable.

Netflix’s adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s most well known work successfully captures the novel’s events and tone. Even without prior of knowledge of the book’s events, the television series is still enjoyable and capable of standing alone. Netflix also manages to avenge the disastrous movie adaptation and proves that “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is capable of flourishing cinematically.