On Friday, January 13, an auspiciously unlucky day, Netflix premiered its new adaptation of Lemony Snicket's bestselling books, A Series of Unfortunate Events. I went into this series with caution, knowing how often adaptations have let me down, fully expecting that the hype would be misplaced, that Neil Patrick Harris would be a mere gimmick and would be ludicrous and...well, remember the Jim Carrey version?
Holy crap, was I relieved. From the moment the opening credits started to the end of the first episode, "The Bad Beginning: Part One" was a thing of perfection. Neil Patrick Harris was perfectly cast as Count Olaf. He captured the character on film in a way that I am convinced no other actor could have. This role was a true testament to the versatility of Harris's acting abilities, and he was an absolute joy to watch. Wait. Did I say joy? NO! MISERY! IT WAS ABSOLUTE MISERY, TO WATCH WHAT HE DID TO THOSE POOR CHILDREN. Ahem. Where was I?
Patrick Warburton's portrayal of Lemony Snicket was sheer perfection as well. His voice captured the tone of the show so well. They found some truly talented kids to play the Baudelaires (holy cow is that baby cute! And oddly enough, the baby sounds are voiced by Tara Strong who also does the voice for Twilight Sparkle on My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic). Add to that the stellar performances of actors like Joan Cusack, Don Johnson, Catherine O'Hara, Will Arnett, Alfre Woodard, and more, and mix in some splendid writing and direction, and you have an absolute winner of a series. The quality of the show did not diminish with subsequent episodes. I binged the first season over the weekend and can't wait for season two.
The series can definitely be enjoyed by both readers of the series and newcomers. While glum and miserable and depressing, the show is also funny and light and I laughed out loud more than once. Yes. Somehow, it pulls this irony off, and does it well. Most school aged kids should be OK with it, though it does have themes of danger, and while death is a topic that comes up a lot, it's not dealt with in a gruesome way. Adults will have a lot of fun with it as well. The show's creators did an excellent job making this a show a wide range of audiences could enjoy. There is action, adventure, mystery, and fun.
So, why not spend your weekend seeing what sorts of unlucky, unfortunate, and unsavory things can happen to a set of three orphans who are pursued by an evil, mad actor who only has eyes for their fortune? Heck, it might even make your own miserable life look peachy!
Melanie R. Meadors is an author of fantasy where heroes don't always carry swords and knights in shining armor often lose to nerds who study their weaknesses. She is a blogger at The Once and Future Podcast, a professional author publicist, and a dabbling fiber artist. You can find her at her website, melaniermeadors.com, on Facebook, and Twitter, @melaniermeadors.