If you are interested in TV shows with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other review. In this show, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle. Anyone that had a semblance of a childhood will know that A Series of Unfortunate Events tells of the woes of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who are orphaned after their parents die in a tragic house fire. They must then uncover the mysteries of said fire while avoiding the clutches of the evil mastermind and vastly untalented actor, Count Olaf. When the 2004 movie version came out, I remember being told ‘No, you’re too young to go and see such a horrible movie with such sad orphans’. Well Mum and Dad, try and stop me now!
Don’t get me wrong – when I was finally allowed to watch the movie I fell in love with the gothic world, Jim Carrey’s Count Olaf, and all of Violet’s inventions – you go girl! But as far as staying true to the books goes, the TV series runs laps around the movie. The first four books are split into eight episodes, two per book, and you can practically see the words jumping from the pages and into the show. From the narration of ‘Lemony Snicket, to the constant VFD hints (don’t know VFD? Get reading!), the series will have every book lover smiling. But if you think there’s nothing new for you, think again. The script writers provide a sub plot that will leave even the most faithful readers guessing until the last episode. However, if you were hoping for a similarly dark, gothic take on the story, you’ll be disappointed. This show takes a lighter, comedic approach, where you’ll feel bad about not feeling bad for the kids.
Neil Patrick Harris, who portrays Count Olaf, is really the star of the show. Honestly, just cut the kids out and I’d be happy to watch Harris have fun on screen. From his opening ‘Hello, hello, hello’ to his random musical number, his other random musical number, and his portrayal of a woman in a dress, Harris brings a spark to the show – while still being oh so evil. His entourage are spot on and each and every supporting adult character plays their blind and trusting roles perfectly. It is the main trio, the Baudelaires, that are the weakest link. Violet is ordinary – a word here which means ‘she’s a child actor, we’ll give her a second chance’ – Klaus is whiney, and Sunny, well she doesn’t get a single word in. Just kidding, Sunny’s bloody adorable.
So if you’re a horrible person in the mood for a TV show where all the adults are idiots, where pleasant featured orphans are forced to go through heinous ordeals, and where you’ll be weirdly attracted to a monobrowed man in a dress, then look no further. Did I mention Neil Patrick Harris in a dress?
I give this show four and a half Lachrymose leeches out of five.
Words by Hannah Adam