At the nimble age of nine, I was bewildered by the Baudelaires’ bravery and wit; clueless about the darker themes the story harboured about loss, greed, and the law, I barely took in Lemony Snicket’s somber themes and harrowing narrative undertones.
The series conjured in me the belief that as a child, I could do great things, go on vast adventures, and that conclusively, I could outwit the adults. Also, shattering doorknobs and deadly vipers anybody?
But let’s fix our eyes on the prize; one of this year’s most anticipated TV series, Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. With a star-studded cast featuring Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, and promising young talents, the dark-comedy drama is bound to recapture the magic, mystery and horror of the Victorian-era like Boston. And maybe even tinkle your senses a tad.
“…talk about having a fragment of the Baudelaires’ fortune and intelligence and how exciting it would be to uncover mysteries and conspiracies and secret societies that your parents never told you they were part of,”
We are all familiar with the Baudelaire siblings and their series of misfortunes. Perhaps one might even relate to their plight and the never-ending hounding from the sinister Count Olaf, like a black hound chasing a bone. Be warned, their story is a miserly affair for grim seekers.
If not for their misfortunes, I would have fancied being one of the three Baudelaire children. I could sit and read in Justice Strauss’s gargantuan library for days, explore Dr. Montgomery’s Reptile Room, dine at the Anxious Clown Restaurant and visit the optometrist at Lucky Smells Lumbermill. Not to mention, having a fragment of the Baudelaires’ fortune and intelligence; how exciting it would be to uncover mysteries and conspiracies and secret societies that your parents never told you they were part of; the ultimate game to play as an inquisitive child.
It’s almost uncanny how thirteen-year-old New Yorker Melissa Weissman manages to visually and emotionally carry on her formidable precedent, Emily Browning, who portrayed an amicable Violet Baudelaire in the fantasy film. Most of the secondary characters are fundamental in the progress of the narrative but I could always have Patrick Warburton narrate bedtime stories to me through an eternity and still not tire of that gruff, gravelly voice.
One of the more unpalatable parts of Netflix’s take on the popular children’s books would be the portrayal of irrationally feared Aunt Josephine. Perhaps I carry a personal bias towards Meryl Streep, but I couldn’t help but find Alfre Woodard’s wide-eyed, over-the-top characterisation slightly off-putting. Also, is it justifiable for a lawyer in charge of three orphans to be this ignorant and ludicrous for that long?
I am not quite sure how producers Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld intend to condense thirteen novels worth of storylines into three seasons – by the time we get to the last two chapters of the first, the story does flatline a little. That being said, do stick around if you want to catch Neil Patrick Harris in all his cross-dressing glory, and a tactful twist.
This show is a perpetual treasure hunt filled with misleading plots, condescending personalities and plenty of foreshadowing. Fans of dark comedies and Wes Anderson‘s iconic visual style are bound to enjoy Netflix’s adaptation of a Lemony Snicket classic.