SOME SPOILERS AHEAD.
If you watched the Jim Carrey and Emily Browning starring movie adaptation of the books, or just read the books themselves, then you pretty much know what’s going to happen in these first two episodes. The Baudelaire children’s – Violet, Klaus and Sunny – parents die tragically in a fire. Afterward they are sent to live with Count Olaf who is their “closest living relative.” Unfortunately, Count Olaf is a scoundrel who only wants the children so he can get his hands on their vast inheritance. The only problem is that it is not accessible until Violet has come of age. So Count Olaf concocts a plan to marry Violet under the guise of it being a play.
I don’t remember much from the movie – nor have I read the books – so I’ve pretty much gone into this series somewhat with fresh eyes. I can’t say much about what’s different between the two adaptations, but I will say that I thoroughly enjoy Neil Patrick Harris in the role of Count Olaf. He seems to be having a lot of fun with the role and I am having a lot of fun watching him. The standout moments with him are the montage when he gave the children a tour of the house, his eating Justice Strauss’ lamb and the insulting it under the guise of asking them if they would like to see her and his musical introduction to the children when they come back from the store.
Sunny is cute and adorable. She’s a baby, what else can you say about her? And she’s actually quite funny. She doesn’t “say” anything, but the subtitles interpreting her incoherent baby babbling can be quite witty. For a baby to be so clever makes it all the more funny and, again, adorable.
Also, Patrick Warburton. If you’ve seen The Tick, The Emperor’s New Groove, Men in Black II or anything he’s been in you can’t help but be a fan. He has the perfect voice to narrate a show that is supposed to be really depressing and the comedic chops to also make that funny. Not laugh out loud funny but at least a chuckle. And that is where this show, so far, has succeeded.
Pretty much ever depressing moment is counterbalanced with humour. So while you’re feeling sorry for the Baudelaire children you’re also laughing. Not at them or that you’re getting a kick out of their suffering, but just because how everything is delivered is humorous. This is pretty much the case with every moment in which Count Olaf is mistreating the children, with the exception of when the slapped Klaus.
Joan Cusack is also a highlight in the series. This is exactly the kind of role that she is perfect for and I like seeing her in. Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes are competent in their acting but they don’t really stand out in the cast as much as the aforementioned actors do.
I was confused for a while because – my only experience with this story being the Jim Carrey film – I expected the children to stay with various relatives as they did there. But it became apparent rather quickly that that wouldn’t be happening, as they were nearing what was the end point for that film without even a mention of them living with others. I looked it up and the Jim Carrey film adapted the stories of a few books and not just one, thereby intertwining their stories.
Surprise! Their parents are alive and actively trying to find their way back to the children. It seems that their secret society is not only looking after the well being of the children, but trying to rescue the parents as well. I don’t recall this being a part of the film. I do like Jacquelyn (poor Gustav) and want to see more of her spying and operating behind the scenes. It’s pretty clear that Olaf is, or at least was, a member of the secret society (he has that tattoo on his ankle), so she knew full well who he was when he went into the bank to speak to Mr. Poe.
I was really looking forward to watching this series, but after watching these first two episodes I’m not quite sure I was that entertained or engaged. I will continue watching, but I’m not that invested in the series. I was left a bit underwhelmed. I do like how quirky, silly and ridiculous the show is, but the show is for some reason not captivating me. Perhaps because I saw the film adaptation and there is nothing new here for me to discover or be surprised by. It is by no means bad, but I would say that so far it’s just okay.
- These kids look like the ones from the film.
- Malina Weissman kind of resembles Dakota Johnson?
- That green screen is really obvious.
- “Dump” does not even being to describe Count Olaf’s house.
- Either Jaquelyn is a terrible assistant or Mr. Poe is impatient.
- Marie Antoinette reference!
- No! Gustav!
All episode of A Series of Unfortunate Events are currently available for streaming on Netflix.