Netflix Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 1)

Come on, Netflix, let this get another season! Or two…


I loved watching the 2004 Jim Carrey Series of Unfortunate Events film almost as much as I enjoyed reading the books, so when I heard that Netflix was doing a remake (of sorts) you can imagine my trepidation. Would they get it right, the tone, the humor, the casting, the sets? Would it be as good as the movie? Would they do (gasp!) the rest of the story?

And now, the verdict is in: The tone is good, the humor is good (some parts had me laughing out loud, and I was watching this late in the evening when other people were asleep…), the casting is good, the sets are spectacular. But there are two things I had trouble with: It’s not steampunk, and it’s not British.

<Cue ridiculous rant that has very little to do with my final thoughts about the show>

The first six episode of the eight episode season are, basically, a restatement of the Jim Carrey film. This is to be expected, of course, as the show is an entirely new undertaking, and does not pick up where the film left off, at the end of the third book in the series. Although there was plenty of extra details and scenes from the books which had not been included in the 2004 film, I was rather amused when some of the shots used in the episodes were composed in exactly the same way as shots from the film. This was probably a nice homage to the Jim Carrey film, but still a little bit odd and jarring, at least to someone who notices such things, like me. Other, normal people probably won’t care at all.

In fact, I’m sure they won’t.

#filmstudentproblems

Another thing that struck me was the casting. The acting is brilliant and well done, even the children and extras (and don’t get me started on the fact that the new Violet Baudelaire looks a lot like actress Emily Browning from the film). But nobody, I repeat, nobody had a British accent, not even Lemony Snicket who, while played  in a wonderfully deadpan manner by Patrick Warburton (who I am sure I must have seen in some other movie), began to annoy me with his non-British-ness. In the original film, Lemony had been portrayed as a mysterious British guy, always shown in silhouette, which was exactly right, and I had enjoyed his narration of parts of the movie. While Patrick Warburton’s narration was humorous and reminiscent of passages from the book, I found it to be slightly overused. And, for one thing, he’s definitely American. For another, I felt a bit cheated that he was just shown to us right away, without the mystery of the original film. Yes, there is mystery in the show (I, for one, am wondering what exactly they plan to do with the VFD) but in the film there had always been a sense of ‘Who is this mysterious narrator? Why doesn’t he show his face? Who is he hiding from?’ Patrick Warburton’s Snicket does not appear to be hiding from anyone.

And, about the steampunk…

The books had always struck me as being very British, as had the film, which also exuded an air of delightfully witty and whimsical steampunk. The show is not steampunk. It has been called steampunk, but probably by rather misinformed people. It is not steampunk. It is trying very, very hard to be steampunk, but it’s just not.

<End ridiculous rant>

By now, you probably think that I hate the show, and are wondering why I said I hope that it gets a second or third season. But I don’t hate the show. Netflix took a chance and revived an old story that, as far as I know, has kind become a little bit of a cult classic. And the result is very good. The casting, despite not being British in any way, shape or form, is amazing. I think I might even like Neil Patrick Harris’s performance as Count Olaf a bit more than Jim Carrey’s! It’s not steampunk. It’s definitely not. But it brings the world of the Baudelaires to life in a very new way. I think newcomers to the story, and old fans alike, will very much enjoy Netflix’s version

As I said, there are eight episodes in this season. And while the first six cover fairly old ground in a sort of remake of the Jim Carrey film, in the last two we get to see book four, The Miserable Mill, brought to the screen for the first time ever! Let me tell you, I was very excited for this. Yes, we’ve seen the first three books before, but the show and the film do a fairly equal job with them, so you can take your pick. But they did the fourth book. And then they left it on a cliffhanger! And, maybe, we’ll be getting a few more seasons!

I would love to see the rest of the story told on screen. It had always annoyed me that there was only ever one Jim Carrey film… Come on, Netflix, make it happen!


Final Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“Good, well made, funny, but not enough British-ness or steampunkary!”

(Can you tell I have a problem???)


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One thought on “Netflix Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 1)

  1. Nice review 🙂 In fairness to the remake, Lemony Snicket – a.k.a. Daniel Handler – is an American, and Jim Carrey is Canadian 😉 But, yes, Jude Law did make an intriguing Lemony Snicket in the 2004 film and his flawless British accent lent the right touch of mystery and intrigue.

    Like

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