I was really looking forward to this adaptation because I have loved these books since elementary school. I had high hopes for the Netflix series 1) because I knew it would allow more time for each book as opposed to the original movie from 2004 and 2) because Netflix original shows clearly have big budgets. It’s evident in the sets, costumes, and overall production quality that Netflix is using our subscription money wisely and allotting their original shows with ample budgets.
I have heard mixed reviews of the adaptation because some people think the dialogue was aimed for children and treated the audience like idiots, as well as other critiques. I disagree. I thought, as a fan of the books, that they upheld the spirit of the books very well. I loved the direct quotes and precise details. I thought the writing was great, and the stories were spot on. This is probably the first adaptation I have ever seen that I can happily say follows the book material almost perfectly.
This first season goes through books 1-4 and gives each book 2 full episodes, about an hour and a half for each book. I was impressed by the cast of the show too, both the well know actors like Neil Patrick Harris and Joan Cusack and the young leads playing Violet and Klaus. Overall, I loved this first season and I am excited to see the next installment since it has already been renewed by Netflix.
If you really enjoyed Lemony Snicket’s books and have been contemplating watching the Netflix series, I recommend you give it a go! You won’t know that you dislike it unless you give it a chance. If you have watched the series already and would like to know what I thought about it, continue reading!
**There will be spoilers below, but if you’ve read the books they probably won’t spoil anything**
I really like the cast that was chosen for this adaptation! First of all, I am never disappointed with what Neil Patrick Harris can do with a character, and his theatre troupe is well cast as well. I thought the hook-handed man was particularly funny as well as the powder faced women (I think that’s what they’re called). I thought Mr. Poe was a good choice in actor as well, he did really well with the constant coughing and the aloofness that is Mr. Poe. His wife was funny in an I-hate-her way because I didn’t remember Mrs. Poe being quite as obnoxious and horrible as she is in this show. I seem to remember the Poe kids being super annoying, but perhaps Mrs. Poe was as well! Oh my favorite casting in The Bad Beginning was Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss! She has such a distinctive voice and I think Joan Cusack was the perfect choice to play the bubbly, caring judge.
The Baudelaire orphans are the main event, of course, and I really like those casting choices as well. I think the young actors chosen to play Violet and Klaus really look the part with their costuming, as does Sunny, but she’s a baby and is mostly edited with CGI to do stuff, but the baby is cute! More importantly, I think Louis Hynes (aka Klaus) is doing a great job with his role so far, portraying Klaus’ insane intelligence without seeming cheesy super human, that also may have to do with good script writing.
I really like the way these episodes were shot as well. I know this is something a bit technical, and I don’t have the time to go back through each episode and look at specifically impressive shots right now, but I’m studying film so I have started noticing things like cinematography and sound that really influence the overall film or show. Overall, I think this show was shot very cleverly and I hope to see more of that in the next season.
I loveeeeeedddd the screenwriting for this adaptation, I actually think it may be the best adaptation screenwriting I have ever experienced. There were times, especially during the Bad Beginning since I reread it so recently, where I knew a line had been taken directly from the book material and I flipped through my copy and found it! That really impressed me because I noticed that a large part of the script was written in that way because it could be. Having the narrator be a character in the show was a brilliant idea I think because it allows the narration of the book to be included in the show without having to be filled in with random lines by the main characters. I feel like that’s what usually annoys me about adaptations, because some things are either left out or supplemented by new things in the adaptations when they cannot be clearly spelled out for the audience on-screen (does that sentence make sense?). Either way, I thought the scripting for this show was clever and worked really well for me as a long-time fan of the book series. Some argued that Patrick Warburton’s character, the narrator (aka Lemony Snicket), was talking down to the audience and making them feel stupid. I completely disagree with this. Yes, I am much older now than when I read the books, and I know what those fancy words mean, but I feel as though the commentary was necessary to capture the essence of the story as it is in the books. Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree with this, I would love to hear other opinions!!
As with everything else, I thought the sets were really nice. I have said this already, but I can see through the way this show was made that Netflix puts a good amount of money into each of its original series and it amazes me that they are done so well! Count Olaf’s house was amazing, as was Uncle Monty’s, Justice Strauss’ library, and even Aunt Josephine’s rickety house on a cliff. I thought they were great renditions of the pictures I formed in my head while reading the books.
Overall rating: A
I’m super excited to see the next season, maybe I’ll reread the next few books while I wait for it as a refresher 😉
Comment with your thought on this show because I’m very curious to hear what you all thought!