Or Nah? is a feature where we watch and review the first episode of a new TV show. We’ll let you know if it’s worth checking out. As always, these reviews are the opinion of the reviewer, but we’ll try to adequately explain why you should or shouldn’t give the show a chance and provide shows for comparison.
What’s it about?
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (LSAoUE) is the newest addition to the Netflix programming arsenal. As with most of their original programming the entire 8-episode season was released at once, on January 13, 2017, ready for bingeing. The show is based on the first four books in the A Series of Unfortunate Events series, which was previously adapted into a mildly received feature film starring Jim Carrey. LSAoUE follows the story of the recently orphaned Baudelaire children: Violet (Melina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny (Presley Smith), heirs to the Baudelaire fortune and the target of one Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris). The Baudelaire’s work to escape their new life with Count Olaf and discover their parents’ secrets.
I was not completely sold after the first episode, but that isn’t a knock at the show itself; I truly wasn’t engaging myself in the material. Neil Patrick Harris is perfectly cast; his ability to take on the persona of the bombastic Count Olaf sets the tone for this quirky show. He takes a character that is utterly ridiculous in his efforts to get the Baudelaire fortune and makes him more than palatable, unlike Jim Carrey’s version of the same character. The writing is witty and wry, even poking fun at the show itself. Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket was a pleasant surprise, his iconic voice and presence in the show are pitch perfect. One of standout characters in the show is one of Count Olaf’s theater troupe, Hook-Handed Man portrayed by Usman Ally. He has great comedic timing and chemistry with the child actors. ProFan James will be writing a review of the first season so I’ll let him handle the nitty gritty. What’s good about this show is really good and what’s bad well…
The older child actors - they have too much screen time to feel like so much window dressing. I understand the focus of this show is ultimately Count Olaf and his hijinks, but there are no hijinks if there aren’t any children.
Joan Cusack. Look, I love Joan Cusack, she is someone I look forward to seeing on TV and in movies. In this instance, I barely tolerated her character. But I’m hesitant to place blame squarely on her shoulders.
The complete ineptitude of the adults charged with the care of the children - I really had to push aside the idea that Count Olaf’s costumes and terrible acting foiled countless adults.
The limited use of some major characters - I am book naïve so I am not sure as to their roles during the first four books, but I hope they were better used than they are here or that they will play a larger role in the seasons to come.
I watched 7 out of 8 episodes and thoroughly enjoyed each of them. I only stopped watching because it was time to go to bed. It’s funny and dark, and at times touching and generally well-acted. Obviously I’m all in and you should be too. The show has already been renewed for a second season, which will cover books 5-9, and the anticipated third season set to cover books 10-13.
Watch This if You Like
If you like, love, or miss Pushing Daisies, A Series of Unfortunate Events can fill a small space in your TV-loving heart.