TV Review: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events TV Review: Lemony Snicket's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" by Geek Girl Mimi Reaves
Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” had its Netflix debut, and I couldn’t be more ecstatic. As someone who grew up reading the series and all its companion novels, all I ever wanted was for the story to be represented in its true light: a quirky, dark tale with many mysteries and characters who challenge age and gender stereotypes. The setting of the books is unknown: it is suggested several times that it takes place in the United States; however their city is literally called “The City” and it takes influences from so many different time periods that it could really be anywhere, and at any time. This makes the world interesting and different from anything we have experienced.
In the books (and in the Netflix series) Snicket’s narration serves as a story in and of itself, and a way to keep children up-to-speed with more complicated words and phrases. The show was successful in its accessibility to many demographics: it explained enough that kids can follow along, while still keeping those parts entertaining and quirky for an adult audience. The show revealed a lot, very early on, and we get to see the mystery of VFD unfold as it happens (as opposed to the books, in which we see the Baudelaires’ perspective almost exclusively, and we only have a few glimpses into mysteries that remain mostly unsolved). I’m very excited to see how this will progress throughout the later seasons.
The show is also very visually appealing. The costumes are successful in being both character-driven, actually making sense for practicality (while I loved Violet’s dress from the 2004 movie, she would never wear something like that) and still working together as a cohesive unit. The set design blew me away with so many Easter eggs from the books. They even did things like making Eleanora Poe’s dress match the wallpaper of her kitchen. Although the green screen was campy, it didn’t distract me from the brilliance of this show. I also feel that the unreal backdrops lent themselves well to the idea that this story doesn’t exist in any specific time or place. It gave an unnerving feel to the show that is also present in the books.
My thoughts on the main characters:
Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket
: I was a little skeptical at first when the trailers and behind-the-scenes photos showed his face, BUT the way that no-one in the show could see him is done so well. While he doesn’t look quite the way I imagined Lemony Snicket, his voice has a dry humour that lends itself very well to the character and the overall tone of the story.
Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf
: Such an epic performance. Count Olaf is supposed to be terrifying, yet funny in a ridiculous way. Not only does he nail Olaf, but he also does a fantastic job at acting out each of his disguises while still incorporating Olaf’s bad acting into those characters.
Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire
: Violet is a teenager who finds herself forced into a “parenting” role, as their guardians prove to be inadequate time and time again. She is the inventor: resourceful, and can make something useful out of almost anything. Malina keeps true to the character, and brings a fire to Violet that wasn’t present in the 2004 movie.
Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire
: Klaus is the researcher, whose thirst for knowledge has gotten him and his siblings out of many difficult situations. He can be reckless in his need to solve the mystery, and sometimes it gets in the way of better judgement. I really appreciate the hint of arrogance that Louis brings to the character: it fits the fact that Klaus, while being a very kind and intelligent person, is still a 12-year-old boy and doesn’t quite have the wisdom that comes with time and experience.
Presley Smith as Sunny Baudelaire: Presley is one of the most adorable babies I’ve ever seen. I love her incredulous expressions, especially at Aunt Josephine’s fear of cooking anything hot. Her lines are some of the funniest aside from Count Olaf’s: for example, when she tells Mr. Poe “You’re a disgrace to your profession.”
Some other things I loved:
-The opening theme song “Look Away”, sung by Neil Patrick Harris (Every episode’s opening is slightly different! Listen to them all!)
-“That [piece of cake] is lemony––” “I told you never to say that word!”
-The many VFD references (all the spoken acronyms, and the eye insignia appearing everywhere) are a great way to emphasize the impending importance of the organization.
-The dedications to Beatrice
-The awfulness of Mr. Poe’s entire family, and their cramped little kitchen inside their tiny squished house
-“Oh, your mother… remarkable woman. Flammable.”
-The sudden musical number in the first episode
-The fact that Olaf’s minions aren’t as evil as he is, and their occasional surprise at Olaf’s actions suggests that he may have not always been this terrible (and I’m pretty sure I know why, but that’s a book spoiler).
-Aasif Mandvi as Dr. Montgomery (and his mustache): I loved Billy Connolly in the movie, but Aasif portrays Monty as slightly more intelligent and protective of the children.
-The foreshadowing of Esme Squalor.
-Mr. Poe freaking out over the Incredibly Deadly Viper “attacking” Sunny
-The score and musical numbers are incredible, and I need them to release an album so I can buy 10
-“He had a very terrible childhood.” “I’m having a very terrible childhood right now.” “…OK.”
Overall, Netflix's adaptation of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" is brilliantly done, full of intelligent humour and the right amount of darkness. It strays off the path of "normal", and that is the show's most shining quality.
Written by Geek Girl Mimi Reaves
Photographer: Susan Mendel Photography
Violet Baudelaire: Geek Girl Mimi Reaves
Klaus Baudelaire: Chrisscreama
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March 16 2017