A Series of Unfortunate Events – TV Review

Synopsis: When a mysterious fire kills their parents, the Baudelaire children are placed into the care of their distant relative Count Olaf, an actor who is determined to claim the family fortune for himself. Following Olaf’s failed attempt, the Baudelaires set out to elude Olaf and uncover the mystery behind a secret society from their parents’ past.

Review: ALL OF THE STARS. ALL OF THEM.

If there’s ever been a better book-to-video adaptation, I can’t think of it. I loved absolutely every second of watching this. (Even if every moment was miserable, melancholy, mournful, morbid and morose. Vile, Forlorn and Dismal.)

The whole season gave me the same feeling that watching classic or award-winning movies does. An appreciation for the fact that it seems that every detail was considered and perfected. The costumes were adorable, the casting was diverse and accurate to the books, AND THE SETS WERE STUNNING. Very Fine Displays. If there’s one reason you watch the show (and it can’t be your love for the books) let it be the sets. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Watching the show gives the exact same feeling that reading the books does. The universe is captured picture-perfectly. I’m thrilled Daniel Handler – er, Lemony Snicket – wrote the teleplay. (And he appeared as the fish vendor in The Wide Window, parts one and two!) It’s clear in every single word choice. This has the added benefit of making every addition or edit to the story covered in the books, y’know, canon. Because Snicket IS the universe.

Which is why it’s so fabulous the way they made Lemony part of the story. His incredible narration is what sets the books apart, and somehow the creators of this show were genius enough to capture that same effect. Patrick Warburton made an amazing Snicket – his voice, his performance, his somber attitude. (Also my mom was excited to see him, for some reason.)

NPH killed it. He captured Olaf’s essence sooo much better than Jim Carrey did in the movie. (I don’t want to talk about the movie.) I laughed every time I saw Stefano. EVERY. TIME.

The kids were great. At a certain point I became physically incapable of not saying “awwww” when Sunny came onscreen. The guardians – Uncle Monty (!), Aunt Josephine, the workers at Lucky Smells – plus the background characters – Olaf’s troupe, Justice Strauss…down to the waiter at the Anxious Clown – were all masterfully casted and performed. I just want to Vehemently, Factually Declare that THIS IS THE BEST SHOW OF ALL TIME.”

I don’t know if I loved the choice to make Mr. Poe a bigger part of the series, but I did appreciate that in general the adult characters were more nuanced. I don’t think equally black-and-white characters would have translated well to TV.

The choice to incorporate the mysteriousness and symbols of the universe early on worked VERY well. I am so obsessed with how A Series of Unfortunate Events acts as a puzzle to the reader as well as its characters. While I don’t feel it’s possible to have the same puzzle effect in a show – especially since not only readers watch it – I think the more obvious nature of VFD is done well here. GOD I HOPE THE SHOW GIVES US MORE ANSWERS THAN THE BOOKS DID.

I don’t think I have anything negative to say about this whole show. It’s impossible to put into words how much I loved it. And my expectations COULD NOT HAVE BEEN HIGHER. For one thing, this is my favorite series. I’ve been following the development of this show since its announcement. Snicket’s a favorite author of mine. I’ve watched for casting announcements, sneak peeks and shooting stills. I’ve viewed every trailer on the day it came out. AND YET THIS SHOW DEFIED THE HIGHEST EXPECTATIONS I’VE EVER HELD. It was amazing. Just amazing. I can’t even pick my Very Favorite, Dolls.

Bottom line: read the books – they’re compulsively readable so it won’t take long – and then WATCH. THIS. SERIES.

I don’t want to have to wait for the next season.

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