Megan looks at the Unfortunate Events Netflix reboot starring Neil Patrick Harris
This review originally appeared on AwardsDaily TV by Megan McLachlan.
In 2004, Jim Carrey starred in the film A Series of Unfortunate Events, based on the children’s novel by the same name written by Daniel Handler (under the pen name Lemony Snicket, of course). Now, 12 years later, Netflix is rebooting the film as a television series, with all eight episodes dropping Friday, January 13.
This time around, Neil Patrick Harris is playing Count Olaf, a role originally made famous by Carrey. And while Carrey brought a bit of zaniness to the character, similar to the way he portrayed The Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge, Harris brings a bit more darkness to him. He’s intimidating and scary. But if you’re going to do a TV series based on Unfortunate Events, Harris is the perfect man for the job.
The title isn’t kidding. The unfortunate events that take place are pretty dire, opening with the three Baudelaire children learning from Arthur Poe (K. Todd Freeman) that their parents have died in a fire. The children’s next of kin and “closest” relative (literally within a three-mile radius) is Count Olaf, who soon becomes the children’s guardian, something the actor extraordinaire finagled on his own in order to secure money from the children’s wills.
There are some seriously dark jokes in this series, that almost make you wince. Like when Count Olaf says of the Baudelaire children’s mother: “Remarkable woman. Flammable.” But that’s what makes this kids show unique, that it’s addressing truly devastating issues with a macabre sense of humor. (After all, these future Tim Burton fans have to start somewhere, right?)
The way this series is filmed is more Pushing Daisies, less Edward Scissorhands, which makes sense considering that Barry Sonnenfield is the executive producer (and he also was E.P. of the ABC cult classic that aired form 2007 to 2009).
The cast includes Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire, and Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss, plus some surprise appearances that shouldn’t be ruined (especially at the end of the first episode).
One casting mishap, though, is Patrick Warburton as narrator Lemony Snicket. In the film series, Jude Law embodied this role, with his British accent and flowery delivery. Warburton, who most television audiences may know as David Puddy from Seinfeld, feels out of place. While he does a fine job narrating, he almost seems like he’s in a Farmers Insurance commercial. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.