I don’t want to say that I loved it – but I loved it! This is the adaptation that fans were hoping for back when they released the disappointing movie adaptation in 2004!
Now, I’m not saying the movie was bad – but I’m saying this is better. With season 1 covering the first four books (out of 13), over two episodes per book, it allows the viewer time to immerse themselves within the world – something that the movie lacked.
The biggest issue with the movie was that there was never going to be a clear conclusion, an end, if you will, because the movie covered only a small fraction of the books (1-3), so it felt a little bit disjointed. It needed that ending but there was no ending to give because that’s not how the books are written. Count Olaf gets away every time, so essentially with the third book ending the same way at the first two, the movie has three endings spread throughout the movie. I know they tried to wind up the story in the movie but I never felt like it worked. I remember seeing it at the cinema and feeling unsure what I thought about the movie, even to this day, I’m confused if I enjoyed it or not. I guess I enjoyed elements but overall felt disappointed.
The issue in both the series and the movie is that the Baudelaire children are a little one dimensional. Apart from Violet (Malina Weissman) knack for inventing, Klaus (Louis Hynes) being a book worm and Sunny (Presley Smith) liking to bite things, there’s no real difference in their personalities. They’re just polite, nice kids who have bad things happen to them. It’s hard to create conflict between the characters if there’s little there to work with from the original material. While the series does it a little better, the characters to fall flat.
Saying that though, everyone is well cast. It was a little hard to re-imagine the characters after having watched the movie, but luckily those characters are killed off anyway so it doesn’t make much different – grim as it is. The last two episodes were perhaps my favourite because it was set somewhere we hadn’t seen before on screen.
The use of Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) is perhaps my favourite part of all. He felt unnecessary in the movie, but I love the way he comes in and out of scenes, in the present, the past and the future, in the series. I never did like how he’d spoil plot points, but that’s very representative of the books.
I was also a little skeptical of how I felt about Neil Patrick Harris playing Count Olaf, but his portrayal is brilliant and so clever! I also enjoyed the interjection of song and dance during the opening and closing episodes. Captain Sham, so far, has been my favourite!
The book series is complex, yet very simple, but the series goes into details of the books we weren’t privy to. As a reader of the books who knows where the story is ultimately going, these new parallel stories makes for unexpected plot points, which I like.
The television series is SO much better than the movie, and will delight fans. It’s hard to say how those will feel who haven’t read the books. It’s quite a strange story, and it gets more complex as the series goes on. The visuals, set and overall design is spectacular. It’s hard to pinpoint the time and place the story takes part so that adds to its mystery.
Season 1 is made up of eight episodes covering four books, so with 13 books in the collection. 13 books, 26 episodes – that’ll be three seasons. I hope they’re given the opportunity to finish it.