Books have long served as inspiration for movies, almost always to the dismay of the books’ fans. Many times a movie is incapable of capturing the magic that is found in the text version of the story. I have found myself in a movie theater many times cringing because a movie has butchered a book I enjoyed. One of the best examples of this was the 2004 version of Lemony Snicket’s “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” The 13-book series had captured my attention in the fifth grade in 2006. I eagerly got the movie version to watch as I read the novels. For some reason, the 13 novels were smashed into one movie that lasted an hour and 48 minutes. To me, it was obvious that the movie was not a good representation of the book series.
Now, 13 years down the road, Lemony Snicket is back for redemption in the form of a Netflix series titled “A Series of Unfortunate Events.” Although Jim Carrey did an extraordinary job of bringing the villain, Count Olaf, to life in the movie version, Neil Patrick Harris has taken the role to another level entirely. Harris, an actor I grew up laughing at in “How I Met Your Mother” is now on the receiving end of disgusted and angry faces shot at my television screen as I watch the Netflix series. Harris manages to incorporate his witty humor into his role of the villain. The other choices of actors are also spot-on with the descriptions from the novel, which is key in the remaking of a novel.
Because it is being presented as a television series, the Netflix version of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is able to include the entire plot from the book set rather than squeezing it into a few short hours of film. As of right now, only season one has been released on Netflix. It includes the first four books: “The Bad Beginning,” “The Reptile Room,” “The Wide Window” and “The Miserable Mill.” There are roughly two episodes per book.
Each of the episodes captures the spirit of the novels and the constant cynicism expressed by the narrator Lemony Snicket. The Netflix series personifies Snicket in the form of actor, Patrick Warburton. Warburton appears in several scenes, going through passages of the secret organization or as an unnoticed entity in the scenes involving the orphans.
The series started off with Warburton warning the audience that the story they were about to watch was a dreadful one. It had no happy endings and would only make them feel bad, suggesting that the viewer find something else to watch that would have a happier ending. This beginning was immediately reminiscent of my childhood reading of those words from the first page of the first novel. Each of the episodes also includes the dedication to Beatrice, Snicket’s lost love, as was done in the book series. Those small details top off the excellent portrayal of the book series that is this Netflix series.
This Netflix series surpassed my expectations. I binge-watched all eight episodes in one day. Then, I proceeded to re-watch the series with my fiancé and loved it even more the second time around. I found that there were little clues I had missed when I watched the series the first time. Even though I know the story, I am eager for the next season to be released so I can continue the journey that is “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”
Book worms have been disappointed by the onscreen depiction of a novel many times, but season one of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” season one left me deeply satisfied as a fan of the book series.