Spoiler Alert: This article contains spoilers for the Netflix original series “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
Netflix finally gave audiences the first season of “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” based on the popular books by Lemony Snicket. The first season consists of eight hour-long episodes that cover the first four books of the series.
“The Bad Beginning: Part One” introduces the Baudelaire children Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and Sunny (Presley Smith). The news of their parents perishing in a fire kick starts the plot as Arthur Poe (K. Todd Freeman), a banker in charge of the Baudelarie fortune and now the siblings, delivers the upsetting news. Snicket (Patrick Warburton) weaves a tale of terrible and tragic events that the orphans will soon face.
Warburton’s interactions creates a sense of curiosity between the visible plot and the mysterious underlining one. But, Neil Patrick Harris steals the spotlight with his portrayal of Count Olaf. Harris settles into the character seamlessly with easy, comedic timing and charm.
“The Bad Beginning: Part Two” starts as Olaf schemes to steal the amazing Baudelaire fortune by marrying Violet. This episode showcases witty dialogue that creates an offset between the mature themes of the show. Olaf’s plot is uprooted, and the orphans are out of his clutches, for now.
“The Reptile Room: Part One” offers the Baudelaires a fresh start in the form of herpetologist Dr. Montgomery. The children take in Montgomery with cautious hope as they are still reeling from their stay with Olaf. On cue, “Stefano” appears as a new apprentice. Obviously Olaf in disguise, the siblings plead to Montgomery to get rid of him. The oblivious nature of the adult characters in the show of Olaf in disguise is a running gag throughout the book and cleverly incorporated into the show adaptation.
“The Reptile Room: Part Two” brings in the first bit of action as the Baudelaries uncover a murdered Montgomery. The siblings uncover Olaf with more than enough evidence.
“The Wide Window: Part One” moves to gloomy Lake Lachrymose with the hero turned coward Aunt Josephine (Alfre Woodard). While Woodard is a versatile actress, the interpretation for Aunt Josephine here is not as strong as her other works. Olaf hatches a scheme as “Captain Sham” to once again steal the children’s fortune. Josephine seems to have jumped to her death, leaving the Baudelaires in the captain’s care.
“The Wide Window: Part Two” has the siblings searching for their aunt, soon finding her alive and well. After gathering Josephine, they are confronted by Olaf. Josephine is left to die as the characters head back to town.The Baudelaires leave to uncover more secrets about their parent’s hidden past, leading them to a place called Lucky Smells Lumber Mill.
“The Miserable Mill: Part One” sets the Baudelaires in the middle of a lumbar mill where they are forced to work by the owner “Sir” who blames their parents for a mysterious fire that set ablaze the whole town. A new character, Georgina Orwell (Catherine O’Hara), a sinister optometrist and former girlfriend to Olaf, is introduced. Orwell’s specialty is hypnotism, her own prescription of terror that forces mill workers into obedient robots, the only twist of the whole season.
“The Miserable Mill: Part Two” concludes the Baudelaires season of tragedy. Olaf is defeated but not captured, Poe leaves the children at a boarding school and the siblings are left with more questions than answers.
Should you watch it? Maybe
Harris and Warburton are by far the stand-outs of this show, successfully adapting the two major characters from paper to screen.
The humorous comedy and dialogue acted as characters in their own right. The book’s influence was apparent here with five-dollar words around every corner.
The script was drawn directly from the books, which is normally not a bad thing, but in this case, the dialogue dragged on, becoming hard to listen to by the fourth episode.
The series offers more character development and interaction, but with the lack of action, the excitement dwindles with each episode.
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” introduces a mix of comedy and gothic themes true to the Snicket brand. These events were truly not unfortunate, but don’t tell any money-grubbing counts that.