TV Binge: A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 1, 2017)

We are in for some TV binge posts this week. I have been slacking off on writing them up. Let us start this week with something the most current: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. I was adamant on finishing the first four books before watching this series. If you missed the reviews, you can find here and here. On the record, I love the movie adaptation and the cast and I watched it without any knowledge of the source material. I still think it handles what it has well enough.

The question is how do they approach it as a TV series. Netflix has rarely disappointed in its series so I was incredibly excited for this one. Let’s check it out!

A Series of Unfortunate Events (Season 1, 2017)

A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS

A Series of Unfortunate Events has a fun and sinister premise. It is full of imagination and adventure. There are clever inventions and also an educational vocabulary adventure filled with colorful characters no matter how dark and grim of a situation the Baudelaire orphans get caught up in as they narrowly escape Count Olaf time and time again. In that sense, the TV series grasps the ton of the books incredibly well. They handle it with a great balance while stringing in some simultaneous events to keep us intrigued. While this may limit themselves in terms of how long the series can run, it is smart idea to take the books and split it into two episodes. Season 1 covers the first four books in the eight episodes. At the end of the fourth book, there is a change in events that should spring forth in the next season. I’ve only read till book 6 so I don’t know what goes on in books 7 and 8 but there is a new discovery and characters that will give it a fresh change to keep it interesting.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

The cast here does a fantastic job in capturing how these characters are. The Baudelaire Orphans are played by Malina Weissman as Violet, Louis Hynes as Klaus and Presley Smith as baby Sunny. These three are the focus of the story itself. They are the ones dealt with all the misfortune. In many ways, Violet, Klaus and Sunny are hold a wonderful connection to each other as siblings. There is a likeable factor to them because they are so intelligent and because they’ve lost so much and trapped with such either useless or evil adults. However, there is a question of how the character in the series actually pick up to fend for themselves (much quicker than in the books).

Talking about useless adults, we can’t dive into a talk about the series without talking about their absolutely useless and constantly coughing Mr. Poe, a man who is responsible for their future until Violet comes of age to inherit the Baudelaire fortune. Mr. Poe, played by K. Todd Freeman is portrayed so incredibly clueless and possibly self-absorbed that in fact, him and his family are quite funny to watch. This brings forth a dark comedy tone that works well to not only give us a grim situation but know when to inject some dark humor.

We can’t have a conversation about characters without talking about the master disguise villain, Count Olaf who will do absolutely anything to get his hands on the Baudelaire orphans. Neil Patrick Harris, for myself, is a hit and miss sort of actor. He has done great roles such as Mr. Horrible and Gone Girl. I’m not a fan of How I Met Your Mother so I never watched it much. However, he always carries a charm in taking on different roles. In many ways, Count Olaf is a perfect platform (much like Jim Carrey’s portrayal) where he can do all sorts of voice acting and show off a ton of his skill set to capture and bring this Count Olaf character to life and man, does he prove himself worthy! Just his facial expressions is irreplaceable.

A Series of unfortunate events

Perhaps one of the nicest touch is to keep our narrator, Lemony Snicket to pop up in the most random places as he continues on with the story. He gives us comparisons and sheds light on vocabulary, just like the books did. He adds a very serious tone to the story. In this case, Lemony Snicket is played by Patrick Warburton, a man with a unique voice. If you don’t know who he is, he’s done the voice of Kronk in Emperor’s New Grove. His voice is commanding and just amazing and fits his narrative so well. Especially adding in his background appearances to aid the progression of the story, it is possibly one of my absolute favorite parts of the series.

There is a lot of cameos here filled with familiar faces. Perhaps the most known would be Joan Cusack playing Justice Strauss, Catherine O’Hara as Dr. Orwell and Don Johnson (as Sir). Aunt Josephine and Uncle Monty are played by Alfre Woodard and Aasif Mandvi respectively and look incredibly familiar and yet I can’t pinpoint where I’ve seen them before. However, they all do really well in their roles. I’m a huge fan of Catherine O’Hara.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

The familiar faces don’t stop. In fact, this Netflix Originals adds in a little extra mystery with injecting Will Arnett and Cobie Smulders who plays parents who are locked up and escaping some interesting situations and trying to get home. Now, are they the Baudelaires? Are the Baudelaires orphans not actually orphans? These are questions that this invokes. Who are these two mystery couple? Aside from that, we also get a deeper knowledge of what that secret society and the telescopes that the Baudelaire orphans find from their parents including the recurring symbol as we get undercover roles from Sara Canning as Jaquelyn and Luke Camilleri as Gustav. This side of the story about the eye and the telescopes really bring out a different side of the story that we’ve never learned much before and it adds in a nice mysterious touch and something that unfolds a little in each episode and wonder how this will all pull together.

Overall, the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events is an intriguing one. It did take a while to build in the first few episodes but does a well job and captures a very suitably dark comedy tone. The cast captures its roles great whether it is our charming narrator to the evil villain to the resilient Baudelaire orphans. They add in a bit of mystery by showing a little more about the mysteries. Its a great way to keep the story intriguing and entertaining all at the same time. It is definitely one I am looking forward to Season 2 to see how it continues.

Have you seen Netflix Original A Series of Unfortunate Events? 

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 4-6 by Lemony Snicket

I’ve been caught in between A Series of Unfortunate Events and Gilmore Girls, I know. Here we are with Books 4 to 6 done in the Lemony Snicket series. I’m going to take a little break from Lemony Snicket as the point of this was to catch up with where the series ended and I’ll have something special very soon for it. As for this one, we’re doing a short review of each book in this collection, just like the last post on books 1-3 (review here)

Without further ado, let’s check out these three books!

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 4-6
by: Lemony Snicket

a series of unfortunate events collection

Summary of collection at Goodreads

Book 4: The Miserable Mill

After the unfortunate events in the The Wide Window, the children are sent to be under the care of the owner of Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Their new guardian, only referred to as Sir, sends them off to work, much against the will of his business partner who doesn’t really have much say, Charles. In Lucky Smells, Klaus is the most affected when his glasses are broken and sent to the optometrist, Dr. Orwell and comes back in a trance, only broken spontaneously. It doesn’t take them long to realize that he was hypnotized, while Violet and Sunny find a way to resolve this and happen to encounter Count Olaf in yet another disguise.

The Miserable Mill is one that took me a little longer to get invested in. It starts off with suspense as we watch the children get sent to work, even Sunny who can put use to her sharp teeth, of course. A little stretch of the imagination is how this series is intended. Skipping over that detail, we learn a little about hypnosis. Count Olaf’s disguise is ridiculous as he turns himself into a secretary. As always, the children attempt to save the day. Maybe a few limbs short and not a whole lot of innocent lives were taken in this one, which is a change of pace. There are whimsical characters here and the plot is rather intricate, somehow it lacks a certain pace to it. However, it still works well enough.

Book 5: The Austere Academy

After Sir takes them out of his care, the Baudelaire Orphans are sent off to boarding school, Prufrock Prep, run by a bad violin performing obsessed Vice Principal Nero. Before they even meet the useless VP Nero, they encounter the school bully, Carmelita Spats who calls them “Cakesniffers” (whatever that means). Prufrock Prep is a boarding school and they are discarded in the orphan house, run down and infested with dripping fungus and crawling crabs. The classes they are put in are with two teachers: one who loves to share her stories and one that loves to measure everything. Sunny doesn’t get to be in a class but rather sent to be an administrative assistant who has to make her own staples and staple paperwork all day. What helps is that they meet the Quagmire triplets who are only two right now and also had their family perish in a fire who help them invent and investigate.

Surprisingly, The Austere Academy is a pretty fun read. It is probably the one with a huge stretch of imagination but its also these very smart Baudelaire orphans are making use of Count Olaf’s stupidity and personality and hiding their suspicions until they feel like its the right moment. On top of that, now we also have the Quagmire triplets, Isadora and Duncan. Count Olaf’s disguise is a good one. The adults are still quite colorful with their various obsessions. There are some clever bits here and having some other characters similar to the Baudelaire orphans to team up with them is a welcome change.

Book 6: The Ersatz Elevator

After Count Olaf’s plans are foiled and he kidnaps the two Quagmire triplets, The Baudelaire orphans are sent out to Esme and Jerome Squalor at 667 Dark Avenue, a big condo complex. Esme is the 6th biggest financial advisor (or something around there) and they are actually back to only a few blocks away from their Baudelaire mansion that was burnt down. The Squalors live in a world that is obsessed with “ins” and “outs” from pinstripe suits to ocean decorations and especially the stopped use of the elevator. Everything falls into place as Count Olaf appears in another disguise with a big plan. The orphans need to figure out what is up with Count Olaf while also figuring out the mystery letters that the Quagmires told them before they were taken away and also, where are they if Count Olaf is scheming again.

Perhaps I’m a fan of far-fetched imaginative pieces, The Ersatz Elevator really kicks it up a little, putting all three children to use their abilities and finding a courage in them that we’ve seen but never to this extent. Its a little unbelievable story but full of incredibly fun characters and has lots of twists and surprises. Its suspense and a page turner. We’re pretty much halfway through the series at this point and a great time to kick up the fact that the orphans are in fact growing up and facing their new miserable reality with as much courage and intelligence as possible.

Overall…

This collection steps up the game a little. The Baudelaire orphans are getting smarter. Sunny is starting to say words that make sense although her teeth are still a thing of splendor in terms of what she can achieve. The stories are full of creativity and the scenarios they are thrown into while far-fetched are imaginative. It continues on with clever uses of words and throws us tons of vocabulary and description. I think the thing to remember here is that these books are meant for children and while we may what is going to happen and we can sit here thinking when they’ll be smarter the next time and that nothing really makes sense especially with the stupid adults, especially Mr. Poe, they are colorful in their own way and adds to the story itself, helping the children shine a little brighter.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 1-3 by Lemony Snicket

With the recent release of Netflix Originals series Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, I couldn’t help but feel really behind in not catching up with the books. In an effort to get the source material read before watching the series, here we go! I ended up getting the three book collection because it was a better deal. Plus, the first season of the TV show covers the first four books in the series.

Let’s check it out! 🙂

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection: Books 1-3
by: Lemony Snicket

A Series of Unfortunate Events Collection

Book 1: The Bad Beginning

The start of anything can be tough but what always made this series fun is its dark tone and constant reminder that nothing happy is coming out of this story of the Baudelaire orphans. The introduction of all our key characters are all in this first book. We have the Baudelaire orphans: Violet, Klaus and Sunny who are although young, actually quite talented. Our villain Count Olaf gets his entrance as their first guardian and the always coughing but rather useless Mr. Poe who is responsible for the orphans well-being. And of course, our author Lemony Snicket may be the fun parts with his pocket full definitions and comparisons to better understand the vocabulary here. Absolutely a clever way to introduce children to new words and how to use them along with a group of whimsical characters. This theme carries forward to the future books in the series as well.

The Bad Beginning itself is a fun and dark read. While it hangs on the point of the Baudelaire orphans misadventures after the death of their parents and the horrible Count Olaf after their immense fortune, it is quite the imaginative ride and a very dynamic read between both the recount of the story to the characters they’ve created. In many ways, Violet, Klaus and Sunny truly develop in the characters of them being incredibly smart kids even if they are still learning and doesn’t quite know everything but are quite the problem solver. As they work out their escape from the evil cluthes of Count Olaf, we grow to love each of these characters a little more.

Book 2: The Reptile Room

The second book, The Reptile Room, picks up after the first one as the orphans are sent off after Count Olaf’s plans are overturned. With him still on the loose, they head down Lousy Lane to Dr. Montgomery Montgomery’s care, a world renowned herpetologist. Mazes and reptiles and deadly snakes are lurk in this book. The Baudelaire orphans, despite all the bad, start to enjoy their stay with Uncle Monty as he lets them dive deep to build on their fortes. The Reptile Room is a fun one as well. The best parts usually go to the slightly eccentric characters that the books have created as the orphans’ guardians. However, the process of Count Olaf is also incredibly well thought out.

Book 3: The Wide Window

 No one quite beats Aunt Josephine as a little irrational and slightly nuts so far in the series. The Wide Window’s next stop is at Lake Lachrymose where the orphans stay with a very scared Aunt Josephine. In all her feat, she actually is a pretty colorful and entertaining character to read, especially with the Lake Lachrymose and the decoding. There’s quite a bit of mystery in this book and quite a bit of adventure and invention.

Overall, its hard to talk about these books. Each of these books are made up of thirteen chapters with a good pacing and some really fun characters. Count Olaf is a fairly sinister if not a little odd villain who is a master of disguise at least he is to everyone else but the orphans who usually sees through him right away. The narration is probably the best part of the novel. On top of that, the stories itself carry a great tone and dives in many educational things for the younger audience in a fun way like grammar (particularly in Aunt Josephine’s story), a lot of vocabulary and even anagrams (particularly  notice them for Count Olaf related characters either for his mischievous followers). The first three books are incredibly enjoyable. In fact, I pretty much read through them quickly. Although most of it was covered in the movie adaptation, it was nice to see the contrast of the two.

Have you read A Series of Unfortunate Events?