Genre: Drama/Dark comedy
Directors: Barry Sonnenfeld, Mark Palansky, Bo Welch
Running Time: 42–64 minutes
Main Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, Presley Smith, K. Todd Freeman and Patrick Warburton
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is so terribly bad, that it is terribly good.
A Series of Unfortunate Events follows Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and Sunny (Presley Smith) Baudelaire after their parents are killed in a mysterious fire. They are then placed in the care of Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), who is hellbent on acquiring the inheritance left to the Baudelaire’s. Olaf tries everything to acquire this inheritance from the children starting an avalanche of bad situations.
The show is adapted from the children books of the same name with the first four books of that series making up the 8 episodes of this season, with each book being split over two episodes, with each episode being around 1 hour long. Mark Hudis (Cybill, That ’70s Show, Nurse Jackie and True Blood) and Barry Sonnenfel (Harry Met Sally, Addams Family and Misery) are the developers for the series with Sonnenfel directing 4 episodes in the series. The series is produced by Cindy Holland, Brian Wright, Ted Biaselli, Daniel Handler, Rose Lam, Sonnenfeld and Neil Patrick Harris.
Everything about A Series of Unfortunate Events is terrible. From the bad acting of much of the cast, to a script that is at times dark and at times cliche, to the cliche quirky set design and costumes, but in the end it just clicks for some unknown reason and it works perfectly. This terribleness is intentional and the way the producers make the show suits the type of content they are trying to portray, a terrible set of events, happening in a terrible town, with a terrible production makes A Series of Unfortunate Events such a wonderful and inventive show.
The star of the terribly bad actors is Neil Patrick Harris, who is so terrible he is great! Its wonderful to see the How I Met Your Mother star act terribly and still have a trademark Patrick Harris feel about him. He is a good actor playing a bad actor, who shifts from Count Olaf to his many disguises in Lab assistant Stefano, a sailor named Captain Sham, nurse “St. Ives”, with each one created through questionable disguises from a shaved head to a dress and wig and with questionable acting from Olaf. Each time Harris disappears you wonder what his next disguise will be.
Joining in the terrible acting is K. Todd Freeman (The Dark Knight) as Mulctuary Money Managements Mr Poe, who looks after the fortune until Violet comes of age and is responsible for finding them suitable guardians, failing 3 times in the process. Freeman is also great with his terrible acting as his Mr Poe is completely oblivious to some of the disguises Olaf uses and for not believing anything Klaus or Violet tell him. Combine Harris and Freeman in the same scene and que the head shaking and occasional laugh at the oblivious nature and terrible acting of both.
Louis Hynes, Malina Weissman and Presley Smith play the Baudelaire children and they develop wonderfully throughout the show, growing as their characters grow too, as they become more confident in themselves and with their ability to use their intelligence to survive all the terrible times. The interplay between them and Olaf is what keeps the show moving. The fights and disagreements between the two are childish, but it suits the aesthetic of the show and it’s where the humour from the show comes from. The chemistry between them is so good that you can feel the hate for each other from both the children and Count Olaf.
Patrick Warburton is Lemony Snicket, who acts as the narrator tasked with explaining the events during the lives of the Baudelaires. Every time Warburton appears you know you are in for a lot of melancholy chat and for a dark explanation of what’s to come. Is it terrible for me to enjoy every time he narrated, because every time he spoke it was only explaining terrible things that would happen? Just hearing Warburton’s voice in that tone felt pleasing in a way that made me enjoy the show much more. Its an outstanding performance from Warburton and each scene he is in, presents us with a new backdrop and a new set of actions that brings mystery to the man that is Lemony Snicket.
One negative to the show is the repetitive narrative. Each episode just feels like a copy of the others with just a little change applied to them. It follows the Baudelaire’s placed in a new situation by Mr Poe and then everything is going smoothly until Olaf arrives, Olaf makes things go terrible and then the children escape with no help from others only using their intelligence or exposing Olaf. By the 5th episode you can notice and begin to predict the sorts of things that will happen.
Overall Lemony Snickets A Series of Unfortunate Events is a terribly made and acted show, which actually works in a unique and interesting way. It has outstandingly terrible performances from Neil Patrick Harris and K. Todd Freeman. Combining the great performances by Louis Hynes, Malina Weissman, Patrick Warburton and Presley Smith. A terrible show that is a great watch, one to watch on Netflix.
The Front Row Opinion