A Series of Unfortunate Events has a Bad Beginning, a phrase which here means “the title of the first two amazing episodes of the immensely binge-worthy new Netflix series.”
Netflix has finally unleashed its proper and timely adaptation of the popular children’s books by Lemony Snicket (aka author Daniel Handler).The streaming network is the television equivalent of John Hammond from Jurassic Park, constantly awing audiences with a twinkle in their eye and the phrase “spared no expense.”
It definitely shows here in the expensive re-adaptation about the Baudelaire orphans Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and baby Sunny (Presley Smith with the voice of Tara Strong) who, after the deaths of their parents in a fire, are shuffled from inept guardian to inept guardian by executor Mr. Poe (K. Todd Freeman) while pursued by the villainous, inheritance-chasing Count Olaf (a hammy-yet-sharp Neil Patrick Harris) and chronicled by the heroically-droll narrator, Lemony Snicket himself (Patrick Warburton).
The mix of bright colors with darkly-comic dourness comes courtesy of producer/director Barry Sonnenfeld (Men in Black trilogy, The Addams Family films). He helms four of the eight episodes, including the first two episode here, and manages to deftly steal from the stylish 2004 film while reinventing the Gothic, heightened reality with a dose of Tim Burton circa Edward Scissorhands. And it all takes place under the watchful eye of Handler (who wrote five of the scripts, including the first three), with some great twists to the familiar mythology for those, like me, who read the books obsessively growing up. Let’s dig into every dark, unfortunate corner!
I’ll be reviewing two episodes (one book) at a time starting, of course, with “The Bad Beginning – Part One & Part Two.” I’ve separated this review to tackle the strengths and weaknesses of the show in five key areas. I also compare and contrast the first two episodes with the original 2004 film, as well as the book upon which it’s based. Click Next to scroll through the review or click which part you’d like to read first!
- The Baudelaire orphans
- “The handsomest man alive” Count Olaf
- Lemony Snicket, Justice Strauss and the rest of the cast
- Storytelling, direction, & design