It’s been years since the successful books from the Unfortunate Events series were made into a film starring Jim Carrey. The sequels to this film were never made, as it failed to impress at the box office. Now this miserable story has a new reboot as a Netflix series starring Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf. So how does the story of despair and misery translate to the small screen? I decided to compile a list of thoughts I had while watching the first episode.
In short, the unfortunate story is about the Baudelaire children, who become orphans after their parents perished (that means died) in a fire which destroyed their home. They left behind a large fortune, which will become available the moment Violet Baudelaire, the eldest of the children, comes of age. The children are placed under the care of Count Olaf, who is not quite interested in caring for the children. He is after their fortune and will stop at nothing to acquire it. Luckily, the children are quite intelligent, a feature which helps them escape from Count Olaf’s wicked plans.
The episode starts with a theme song in which Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris) sings that you should look away. I try to look away, but the visuals are too stunning and I am too intrigued by this miserable tale. The episode is narrated by Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) who tells us about the awful things the Baudelaire children are about to face. The narration is very much in line with the books, but it takes some getting used to on film. However, it is a very powerful means of bringing the story to alive and sticking close to the books. The narration brings some comedy relief to this awful story, especially because the lines are delivered with such solemn sincerity that it hurts to even write this now. Of course, the story which he tells is by no means a laughing matter.
Neil Patrick Harris
Another noteworthy thing to mention is Neil Patrick Harris’ performance of Count Olaf. Count Olaf is a terrible actor and at times consultant, who takes in the Baudelaire children for all the wrong reasons. While Patrick Harris performs his part with grandeur and excellent comedic timing, he is not quite menacing. Perhaps that will come in the next few episodes, but it feels like Count Olaf is not meant to be the truly evil guy. Nevertheless, NPH does the job well and is truly the star of the show, while the Baudelaire children merely feel like plot devices to keep things moving forward.
Despite the story being truly awful, the actors are so far amazing. Not only Neil Patrick Harris shines, but also Joan Cusack as judge Justice Strauss and K. Todd Freeman as Mr. Poe do an excellent job. It makes this horrible first episode a pleasure to watch.
Another thing to mention is that it is filmed in an almost fairy tale-esque way. It is very dream-like, if your dreams resemble your worst nightmares. It is a very promising start for the worst series ever. I strongly advise you not to watch it, for there are many happier things you could do with your time.
>> Read our complete Unfortunate Events review here