I was the optimal age when Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events first hit shelves. The Bad Beginning was released 18 years ago and it is still well loved by us ‘90s kids today. (Well, I guess we are supposedly adults now. ’90s adults?)
Last year, I heard that Netflix was re-creating these classic books into an original series and I was ecstatic. I have been very impressed with the shows and movies Netflix has rolled out thus far, however, I was devastated to hear that they were casting Neil Patrick Harris, the comedian, as the Count Olaf, the darkest and most sinister villain of my childhood.
Upon watching the series, however, I was pleasantly surprised. Harris does a fantastic job playing this evil fiend. Harris plays Olaf as an ominous adversary, but the dark humor and self-awareness he brings to the character is enough to keep the show light.
Lemony Snicket, played by Patrick Warburton, narrates the show. He does an incredible job and really brings the Gothic feel of the books to the series. The orphans, Melinda Wessman as Violet, Louis Hynes as Klaus, and Presley Smith as Sunny (voiced by Tara Strong) do a great job of carrying the story. There are a few famous faces that bring life to the show as well, such as Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss, and Catherine O’Hara as Dr. Orwell. This show also features Daniel Handler, also known as the author, Lemony Snicket himself, in three episodes, as the fish head salesmen.
The premiere season of this Netflix original show covers the first four of the Snicket’s books, The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, and The Miserable Mill.
The show follows the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus and Sunny. After their parents die in a mysterious fire, they are bounced from guardian to guardian, while being chased by the evil Count Olaf, who is in pursuit of the Baudelaire’s fortune.
Running parallel to the orphan’s story is the mystery of a secret agency, the Volunteer Fire Department. The VFD mystery is intriguing and a lot more is revealed about it in the show than in the book series, which I really enjoyed.
It also follows the path of two adventurous parents, played by Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders, who are first seen in a prison in Peru. The whole series, the nameless “parents” are trying to get home to their children. You are led to believe that these are the Baudelaire parents, that somehow things are going to turn around and the Baudelaire’s will live happily ever after as a family.
Alas, the twist at the end is that the parents make it home to their children, however, they are not the Baudelaire orphans, they are none other than the Quagmire triplets, who become the Baudelaire’s only friends later on in the series.
The first season comes to a close with the Quagmires’ house engulfing in flames, and the two surviving Quagmire triplets arriving at the Austere Academy along with the Baudelaire orphans.
This show satisfied my love for these books and brought back all the great childhood memories of reading them. I was very pleased with the series and can’t wait for season two.