A Regrettable Review: “A Series of Unfortunate Events”
Dear reader, I implore, a word that here means “ask very much,” you not to read this review. It is on a rather unfortunate show about the plight of three clever orphans, questionable CGI and a truly hammy villain with large amounts of make-up.
The new Netflix show, “A Series of Unfortunate Events,” is based on the first four books of the popular children’s series of the same name. The show seems to waffle between being hyper loyal to the source material and wanting to do its own thing, despite the screenplay being written by the author of the books. The main source of differences is the inclusion of the VFD, a secret society that feature heavily in the later books but aren’t really in the early ones.
The book’s plots stay relatively well intact. The three Baudelaire children are made orphans by a mysterious fire that not only kills their parents but also destroys their home. They are sent to live with the evil Count Olaf, who wants the large inheritance the Baudelaire parents left for their children. The series chronicles the children’s attempts to stop him and his plans to burn through each unlucky guardian to receive custody of them.
Within the Netflix series, there is also the story of Lemony Snicket as the narrator for both the books and the series. This show has a transparent fourth wall. Snicket, played rather well by Patrick Warburton, will often address the audience to inform them of things going on in the story, define words and sometimes to pepper in his own story his research into the plight of the orphans.
The acting is alright, at best, in the show. Warburton does a very good portrayal of Snicket and Neil Patrick Harris performs a hammy, but well done Olaf. Although both of them have the problem of very distinctive acting styles and voices that, for at least me, would draw watchers out of the show. Harris’ make-up is fantastic, though.
The children, however, are not strong actors. The baby, Sunny (Presley Smith), does her job of being cute well, but both of the older children, Violet (Malina Weissman) and Klaus (Louis Hynes), are very wooden. Most of their lines come out flat, although Hynes seems to have a good sense for comedic timing. It very possible that this was supposed to be the joke, but it was distracting.
The series’ use of CGI was equally distracting. Smith is cute when allowed to be just a baby, but they would often have to use CGI to make her able to do things that babies, and often humans in general, simply cannot do. There were quite a few examples throughout the series of this.
This show is good. It was not made for people super invested in book loyalty, but people who enjoyed the spirit of the books. Its tragic tale with a dark sense of humor that can’t decide between being dry and over the top.