Netflix delivers series of fortunate decisions


Netflix has produced a television version of Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events” seemingly custom-made to impress my inner 14 year old.

Having grown up reading Snicket’s marvelously macabre and depressing novels about the misadventures of three children stalked by an evil actor hell-bent on stealing their fortune, I’ve waited quite some time for a good visual version to come along.

The last time a studio took a shot at adapting the series the end result was a sloppy mess of a film that attempted to cover three books in the span of an hour and a half.

This 2017 television version learns from the mistakes of its failed cousin, stretching each book into multiple full length episodes.

While all three of the Baudelaire children bear a great deal of acting burden (and carry it quite well), Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) absolutely steals the show with his horrible acting, sly disguises and penchant for misusing words.

While I never would have chosen Patrick Warburton to play a live action Snicket, I find myself coming back to each episode excited to see how Snicket will be worked into the plot.

Instead of Snicket simply being the narrator of the books who occasionally drops hints of personally visiting the locations described, he’s a tragic figure who regularly breaks the fourth wall to warn audiences of upcoming events.

In book form “A Series of Unfortunate Events” was basically a grammar lesson in disguise. I’m thrilled to report those lessons are still present, including Snicket’s trademark “a word which in this case means” explanation scenes.

The Netflix version escalates this even further by having unreliable characters snootily define commonplace words or wrongly define a complicated word while refusing to be corrected by a child.

At its heart the series is an imaginative romp through a world of depressing things happening to good people. There will be no happy ending to this show, but then again Snicket’s warned me about that every single book and every episode and I’m still watching.

This is everything I’ve ever wanted out of a book adaptation.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)