The three Baudelaire children (Malina, Louis and baby Sunny) become orphaned when their parents perish in a mysterious fire. Too young to take care of themselves, the bank that manages their fortune puts them into the care of distant relative Count Olaf; an eccentric failed actor who is penniless. What becomes apparent to the children is that Olaf will stop at nothing to get his hands on their significant inheritance via a series of increasingly complicated and erratic schemes.
When Netflix announced that they would be ‘reimagining’ the Lemony Snicket books into a television series this felt like a more apt format because of the depth required and the good news is that this is a vast improvement on the film. However, the most important aspect that they needed to get right would be the visuals and Barry Sonnenfeld has achieved this with aplomb. If you were ever interested in a television show that was created in a world by the lovechild of Wes Anderson and Tim Burton you’d be in luck because it’s finally here. However, I do get the feeling that this is a marmite show and if you aren’t a fan of either, don’t waste your time. It’s not for you.
Although the season consists of only eight episodes, every two episodes cover a book in the Lemony Snicket series with a clear beginning and end with the story consisting of another Olaf caper to gain access to the children. It makes this show so unique although there is a clear transition between each story, which typically consists of the children going to live with another of the Baudelaire with the overarching storyline of them attempting to find out what happened to their parents.
Although the actors that play the Baudelaire’s are sufficient (and occasionally spookily similar to their feature film predecessors), it is hard at times to maintain sympathy with Malina, Louis and Sunny throughout the entire season. Often, I found myself rooting for Olaf instead of the heroes of the show, which signifies how extraordinary Neil Patrick Harris is in the role. He not only equals what Jim Carrey did in the film version but uses the expansive canvas of a long-form TV series to magnify the malevolent Count to new heights. It’s clear he’s been given free licence to do what he likes with the character and it’s to our benefit.
Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket is also very good, playing the part of narrator and foreboder with aplomb without trampling on the background performances too much. There are some cracking cameo performances regarding the Baudelaire many custodians, but I don’t want to spoil them for you. In summary, if you like a dark gothic fable this is definitely worth your attention. However, a kids’ show this is not and is probably too darkly sardonic for younger children to appreciate.
Watch this if you liked: “Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events”, “Edward Scissorhands”, “Moonrise Kingdom”