Flicking Through Netflix: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 1)

If you’re looking for something to read that talks about happy stories, helpful adults, and kids who always get out of every situation without a scratch, I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong blog. Perhaps you can find something happier to read, like a story of happy little elves having happy little adventures. As for me, I have declared it my solemn duty to write down my thoughts and observations from watching the frightful fate of the Baudelaire children and their preposterous plights. Plight is a word which here means unfortunate situations, which is unfortunately the perfect word to describe the lives of the Baudelaire children. It is appropriate because those very children find themselves all too often in A Series of Unfortunate Events.

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Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are the Baudelaire children, now the Baudelaire orphans as their parents have died in a tragic fire. They are placed under the care of their parents’ banker, Mr. Poe, who passes them off to relative after relative in accordance to their parents’ will. The first of the series of relatives is Count Olaf, a horrible man and equally horrible actor who is only after the orphans’ considerably vast fortune. After a really disgusting plot, the children are whisked away to another guardian. However, no matter where they go, Olaf pursues them, wearing creative and often hilarious disguises.

I’m pretty familiar with Lemony Snicket’s darkly comedic and comedically dark series. When I was younger, I read all 13 books and I remember watching the Jim Carrey movie on the big screen when it was out. Heck, I even played the PS2 game based on the movie. Needless to say, I am a fan of this series. Now, in my opinion, this series has 2 majorly important elements: The story and the characters. However, because this is a series based around mysteries, I’m not going to talk about the stories at all. I’ll just say that this Netflix show is a faithful adaptation for the most part. There ARE some major changes regarding a secret society playing around in the background and a semi-change to what happens at the beginning of the Miserable Mill. The secret society is a lot of fun to watch and the change in Miserable Mill made sense, so I’m not complaining about them. The characters on the other hand have some noticeable flaws.

The Baudelaires take some time in order to get used to them. In the first episode, they sound really stilted, overly enunciating everything and generally seeming very awkward. The baby’s voice acting isn’t very well done in the first two episodes either, which is weird because it’s done by the awesome Tara Strong. It just sounded way too cartoonish for a human baby. Still, after a while, the kids find their stride and are believable in their roles.

Neil Patrick Harris is a joy to watch as the villainous Count Olaf. The make up on NPH is very well done and he pretty much disappears into it after a while. He plays the role as kind of a bumbling criminal “mastermind” and it’s always entertaining to watch. However, I do think he should have played the role a little more sinister, a bit subtler. Sure, his over-the-top antics are funny, but Olaf is supposed to be conniving. I just never believed this guy could come up with all these plots. His theater troupe is also well done, with each character getting a nice, quirky personality that really makes them stand out as people.

Patrick Warburton as the narrator, Lemony Snicket, is beautiful to watch. Patrick is doing the stoic, deep-voice thing as in a lot of his roles. However, his performance is a masterpiece. He shows a hundred emotions with a twitch of his eye. He has a world of backstory in his every word without ever being an exposition factory (for himself, at least). He’s funny and charming and amazing. He’s the best part of the show, for me.

The other adults are… annoying and inconsistent. The whole joke in this series is that the adults who aren’t either part of the secret society or evil are just completely stupid. It gets to the point where they outright state the obvious and the adults still don’t get it. It’s maddening to watch. The joke of “stupid adults” gets old really quick. Aasif Mandvi is funny as Dr. Montgomery but he also falls into the stupid category as well. Alfre Woodard is a waste, an absolute WASTE, as Aunt Josephine. She, to put it bluntly, sucks. She’s not even trying in this role. She just screams and bumbles and doesn’t care. What a shame. K. Todd Freeman as Mr. Poe… I want to punch him in the face. The actor was fine (even if he coughed far too much), I just never liked Poe as a character. Catherine O’Hara was fantastic as Dr. Orwell and her chemistry with NPH was a sight to see. I loved watching them together and I would watch a series with those two characters alone.

I could say much more about this show. The theme song “Look Away” fits the tongue-in-cheek “dour” mood of the show. The set design is breathtaking. The special effects are pretty lowkey and not that good. However, I mostly wanted to go into details about the characters, as I have done already. Suffice to say that this series is definitely worth your time. It might be a bit dark at times, but I’ve always been a fan of dark comedies. If you like the works of Tim Burton, I think you’ll love this.

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