Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, K. Todd Freeman, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, Aasif Mandvi, Alfre Woodard, Catherine O'Hara, Colbie Smulders, Will Arnett
Air Date: Now streaming on Netflix
I wasn't a massive reader when I was younger, I'm still not that enthralled by the idea; even the Harry Potter books didn't get read by me until I had left school. However, there was one series of books that I fell in love with, and hold a really special place in my heart. A Series of Unfortunate Events, written by Lemony Snicket (the pen name for author Daniel Handler), follows the Baudelaire children as they go on a miserable adventure to escape the evil Count Olaf after the death of their parents. The books dry sense of humour and unabashed approach to a miserable subject matter was always intriguing to my young mind, and that interest is still very much there today.
|K. Todd Freeman, Louis Hynes,|
Joan Cusack, Presley Smith
& Malina Weissman
Now in 2004, an attempt to bring these stories to big screen was tried, but sadly failed. Despite a powerhouse performance from Jim Carrey as Count Olaf, the dryness, attention to detail and time given to each book was lacking. The film felt uninspired and poor mans attempt at recreating these terrific stories. So the plans for a franchise were scrapped, and that was the end of that.
Cut to 10 years later, and Netflix announce plans to re-imagine the story in an 8-part television series. The announcements excited fans around the world, and as the series was starting production, it drew in stars like Neil Patrick Harris, Joan Cusack and Catherine O'Hara (who starred in the 2004 film).
Yesterday saw the entire series hit Netflix in one miserable go; and the series is a triumph. Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Presley Smith portray Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, the three orphans. They are savvy, quick thinking and humble in their performances. Each child brings a special quality to their character, and you are with them every step of the way.
|Will Arnett & Colbie Smulders|
Patrick Warburton portrays Lemony Snicket, acting as the narrator, and constantly persuading the audience to switch off, away from the melancholy. His narration is exactly how I remember the book being written, and is just one of the qualities that makes the TV series pop; it's gloomy in a knowing and funny way.
The show has many cameos and short-lived characters throughout, including reptile obsessed Uncle Monty (Mandvi), grammar loving Aunt Josephine (Woodard), cunning and villainous Dr. Georgina Orwell (O'Hara) and gentle, yet dim Justice Strauss (Cusack). It is a stellar cast, who bring their own special qualities and quirky traits to their respective characters. The show is kooky, dark and mesmerising, and the actors have embraced that wholeheartedly.
Of course the star of the books, the film and now the series is Count Olaf; here portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris. It's absolutely fair to say that his experience in the theatre is what helps his performance the most. Olaf has to portray a different character in each story; and though he does it badly, playing a character that plays characters baldy is quite the challenge in itself, and Harris isn't scared to make himself look silly along the way. His performance elevates everyone else's and makes the entire season fly by.
|Neil Patrick Harris|
Netflix's series is eight episodes long, with two episodes dedicated to one book; taking us through The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window and The Miserable Mill. This goes each story enough time to be full of detail, nods to the book, and even a few new twists. It also helps the series to have author Daniel handler along for the journey, even writing some of the episodes himself. The film tried to rush three films into a 2 hour film, where as here each book get 2 hours to itself.
A Series of Unfortunate Events is perfect for the whole family, not too childish, not too grown up. It balances the line perfectly, and has something for absolutely everyone within it.
A Series of Unfortunate Events - Promo