‘Strikes again’ is used here to mean returning to the limelight, but in a good way. If you understand that random explanation to express an obvious point, then chances are you are a fan of Lemony Snicket and his wicked series. First published in late 1999 and continued until 2006, this series dominated children’s literature. Parents were quick to buy the series and did not mind reading along as well. When the 2004 film was released with Jim Carey taking the helm as Count Olaf, it was success. However, the film was more tuned to the comedy in the books and missed out on the solemn-toned majority. Netflix succeeds where the movie failed. The quirky one liners and long winded, short-lived characters are brought to a new life we never thought we needed. I put this in the Watch It category because although fans will love this, I do not believe this to be a show or book that will connect to all audiences. While containing adult material the series is exaggerated for a certain audience to be watching. The advantage this show has is that most of its fans are now grown and more children are continuing to read. While I do think this is a binge-able show for those that love it, it will not have the same flare for those just welcomed to the hit. That being said, some of you will not understand and appreciate the style of Lemony Snicket and his work. I do welcome anyone who wishes to try the series out. I believe you will be pleasantly surprised. Keep in mind it is an extremely stylized work sort of like Wes Anderson films. Expect a certain type of humor, irony, and complex plot lines.
With just 8 episodes (as of yet), the series covers 4 separate stories of the children’s harrowing adventure so far. Set after the mysterious fire on their home that supposedly leaves them orphaned, Violet, Klaus, & Sunny are left in the hands of the bank and executor, Mr. Poe. What would seem to be a simple task of finding these children the closest relative to live with, it unravels to be as the title suggests, ‘a series of unfortunate events’. Of course it wouldn’t really be all that unfortunate if Count Olaf did not exist, but that’s the story. There is a lot more to it that cannot be seen at first glance. With the backdrop of a secret society these children are in for something they did not quite bargain for. Luckily for them they each have special capabilities and traits that save them from some of the stickiest situations. Each character provides a specific taste to the audience’s palate. If you ever feel lost, Lemony Snicket is not only the pen name of our author, but also a character that narrates and is actively part of the story. Patrick Warburton does a splendid job at enacting the wry humor of the work and fulfills his duties as the narrator. I was worried that his masculine voice and qualities would take away from the appeal of Lemony, but I watched corrected.
Neil Patrick Harris, with his Tony-loving stage capabilities, came with no shock in his casting. Count Olaf is a master-in-disguise always trying to swindle the orphan’s fortune and Neil Patrick Harris has no issue in playing one that is constantly scheming. Furthermore, his acting troupe/gang seems to be the perfect caricature of what is imagined in the book. Justice Strauss played by the talented Joan Cusack was one of my favorite characters and castings. I loved her role in SHOWTIME’s hit series Shameless and she will not disappoint as the lonely, but motherly judge. Uncle Monty & Aunt Josephine are also fitted to their descriptions. Played by Aasif Mandvi and Alfre Woodard respectively, they both fit the profiles. Mr. Poe, portrayed by K. Todd Freeman, is as annoying as ever, but don’t worry he’s supposed to be! Also be on the lookout for Don Johnson and Catherine O’Hara (who also played a role in the movie as Justice Stauss) who add to the well-rounded cast.
Overall, fans will be happy that the series is finally getting the adaptation it deserves even if it isn’t as expansive as the Harry Potter universe. For those who are not sure whether this show will do it for them, watch it to find out. The joy in streaming is that you can start and stop whenever you want and decisions are easier. If you enjoy the aspects certain children’s literature brings to the screen, be sure to add this to your list, as it will not disappoint.