When Netflix announced last year that they would be producing a show of the beloved Lemony Snicket books A Series of Unfortunate Events, many fans of the books were delighted. Netflix does have a track record of getting it right with their original series. While Netflix definitely gave the on screen adaption of A Series of Unfortunate Events their golden touch, they didn’t get it all right.
Something Netflix didn’t get quite right is their choice of actors for the Baudelaire orphans. Unlike the film adaptation of the book series, the actors are actually close to the age of the characters they are portraying. The young actors, Malina Weissman (Violet) and Louis Hynes (Klaus) don’t really have what it takes to play these roles. The character identities ask a lot of the young actors, from cleverness to miserableness. This requires a certain amount of maturity and skill that unfortunately they do not possess.
One of the most unfortunate parts of the show is Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Count Olaf, the show’s villain. I know he’s great and all, but he wasn’t the best choice. He sings the show’s title sequence as well which was too reminiscent of one of Harris’s previous acting credits Doctor Horrible’s Sing Along Blog. The premiere season also ends with a song, which is just all around strange. And while watching the series, one can’t help but feel like Harris’s performance just isn’t evil enough.
Perhaps the best part of the adaptation is the constant narration of Lemony Snicket, played by Patrick Warburton. His character adds depth to the story and frankly a majority of the comedy. His character helps remind the audience what is so great about the books and keeps a high standard for the importance of the author’s voice.
The best part about this book series being turned into a television series is the chapter-like format gives the original storyline the proper time it deserves. That’s where the movie adaptation failed; it tried to stuff three books into a mere two hours. By giving each book two episodes, each storyline remains true to the books and gives each plot point the time it deserves. Instead of glancing over important parts the show fully develops points in the books the movie glanced over or just ignored completely.
The important thing to remember is that the show, just like the books, is meant for children. Under genre, Netflix lists it as Kids TV. So to put it simply, A Series of Unfortunate Events isn’t meant for an older audience. Maybe that explains why Neil Patrick Harris isn’t as evil as Count Olaf should be and why the title sequence is a little hokey. Unfortunately, we have grown up a little since immersing ourselves in the books.