The Daily Gamecock

Review: Netflix's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' better than 2004 movie adaptation

Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf in "A Series Of Unfortunate Events." (Joe Lederer/Netflix)
Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf in "A Series Of Unfortunate Events." (Joe Lederer/Netflix)

Show: "A Series of Unfortunate Events"

Number of episodes: 8 episodes

Release Date: Jan. 13

Rating: A-

We regret to inform you that the three Baudelaire orphans have been once again subjected to misfortune after misfortune in Netflix’ take on Lemony Snicket’s darkly humorous children’s books, “A Series of Unfortunate Events.”

The show is written in part by the author originally responsible for the orphans’ misfortunes, only this time he’s using his real name: Daniel Handler. Neil Patrick Harris stars as Count Olaf, joined by other stars such as Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket and Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss. Harris also performs the show's theme song, which changes slightly each episode and occasionally hints at what is to come.

Netflix released this eight-episode season on Friday the 13th, 13 years after the first on-screen adaptation of the series appeared in theaters to mediocre reviews.

Compared to the 2004 movie adaptation, the TV series seems to be doing much better. The movie told a lot of the series in a disorganized manner, jumping from plot to plot. The Netflix series takes two 45-minute episodes to cover one book; season one only goes as far as the fourth book. The narration by Warburton on the Netflix series is also much more in-character than Jude Law’s in the 2004 film. Warburton brings the passion into narration intended by the books, entering in the middle of episodes and scenes, speaking almost verbatim what Snicket wrote in the books.

Netflix stayed fairly true to the books with their new adaptation of the series. The only discrepancies are minor, such as Mr. Poe getting more character development than his minor role in the books, or Snicket’s character being involved with the plot right away. A larger difference is the new side-plot created in the TV series of the mother and father of the Baudelaire children being taken hostage because they were spies. More to come with the next season. Though these changes are not too drastic, die-hard fans might be upset with the new additions.

Renewed for a season two and planning for a season three, the much-anticipated series has already gotten hundreds of tweets, reviews, and comments, along with a 93 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Netflix’s spin on “A Series of Unfortunate Events” does much more justice to Lemony Snicket than the film did. The show is funny and witty, using language as an integral part of the aesthetic of the show, but it’s also loyal to the darkness of the plot. Even though many sinister elements are lost in the Netflix version because of the actors and humor, this only takes away slightly from the series.

As a fan of the books, I would give the show an overall rating of an A-. It’s definitely worth a watch from anyone who loved the books or the movie.