Netflix’s adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” became available to stream Jan. 13.
Based on the children’s book series by Daniel Handler, who wrote under the pen name Lemony Snicket, the show is taking the 13-part series and is likely condensing it down to a three-season Netflix show.
Season one follows the plot of the first four books, with each book spanning two episodes. The cast is fraught with big-name actors, such as Neil Patrick Harris as the mischievous villain Count Olaf and Patrick Warburton as the semi-omniscient narrator Lemony Snicket.
As a fan of the books from childhood, my high expectations from the cast and writers were overwhelmingly exceeded. Handler is the primary writer on the show, which allowed the story of the Baudelaire orphans to feature the same style as the books. Many of the unique storytelling techniques Handler employed in the books make an appearance in the show, giving it the same overall tone that captivated so many children in the early 2000s.
Though the series follows the books very closely, the show adds on to the story fans already knew, giving us glimpses into the lives of the eccentric characters surrounding the Baudelaires. This addition is a genius move on the production team’s part. It gives fans that already know the story more motivation to watch all the episodes and come back for any future seasons.
Harris and Warburton, alongside Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes as Violet and Klaus Baudelaire, give viewers plenty more reasons to hit the “Next Episode” button with abandon.
Weissman and Hynes are both relatively new to show business, though Weissman has a few more credits than her on-screen brother. Both embody their respective characters perfectly, however, adding to the feeling that the show is a nearly perfect adaptation of the books.
Warburton’s deadpan performance as Lemony Snicket echoes the tone of the books, with much of his dialogue being taken directly from them. However, his personification of the books’ narrative adds a level of empathy, hinting that Lemony Snicket cares even more about the Baudelaire children than he initially lets on.
All that being said, it is Harris’ performance as the series’ unethical, fortune-crazed antagonist that takes the show to the next level. His comedic timing, voice work and physical characterization work together to help him truly become Count Olaf.
Handler takes credit for Harris’ casting, claiming that he first envisioned him playing the part of Olaf back in 2011 when Harris hosted the Tony Awards.
“I just immediately saw someone who could pull off a million things at once,” Handler told Entertainment Weekly. “When Count Olaf is in disguise, he’s playing a guy who’s playing a guy, and Neil plans out everything. How he’s going to open a door, how he’s going to gesture. It’s really funny, and it’s just an amazing machine.”
Though a second season has yet to be confirmed, Handler also told Entertainment Weekly that scripts are already in the works. The second season is rumored to span books five through nine, leaving the final books for season three.
Given Netflix’s history of releasing new shows annually, Netflix will hopefully renew the show in time for it to be available January 2018 or sooner. After a finale chock full of plot twists which even the biggest fan couldn’t see coming, viewers can hardly wait.