Much like the books that it is based on Netflix’s new original series “A Series of Unfortunate Events” is going to be one that massively divides opinion. By keeping close to the books in many aspects, the show is overly quirky, but it is done in a very self-aware manner which will come across as endearing to some, but annoying to others.
The first two episodes set up the short series well and are effectively the launch pad of what is to come through the remaining six episodes, setting up a number of storylines and character arcs along the way. Whilst this review shall remain non-spoiler, it is worth noting that there is a major twist in the first two episodes that majorly deviates from the direction taken in the books. Whether this is to differentiate it from the 2004 film of the same name or to simply expand upon the material already given in the books (Which is also executed earlier than it would otherwise have been in its literature form) is unclear.
The advertising of the series was mainly focussed on the performance of Neil Patrick-Harris as Count Olaf, and this was a smart thing to do, Patrick Harris is the biggest name in the show but he is also the stand out star of the first few episodes. However, Patrick Warburton who portrays the titular Lemony Snicket also deserves credit for delivering a very admirable performance in such a limited on-screen role. Besides the two mentioned, no character stands out from the rest of the crowd in the first two episodes. With that being said, no one is bad in these episodes, they are perhaps just let down by the fact that they have nothing of significance to sink their teeth into.
There are times that the special effects severely let the show down, even as early as the first time we are introduced to the protagonist orphans. Whilst this does detract from the show, if you are able to look past it then there is really nothing else production wise that requires specifically being mentioned as a negative.
Netflix clearly has ideas to turn this into a multi-season series, as with only six episodes left do not expect this season to go any further than the 2004 film did storyline wise (Except for where the series has deviated from the path laid out in the books).
So whilst the new Netflix Original has started out by telling a familiar story, for the most part, it is done well (Again, for the most part) and succeeds in setting up the mysteries and storylines moving forward.
We suggest that you definitely check out the first two episodes of this season, but if they fail to grab your attention then don’t proceed any further as the show is unlikely to do anything significant beyond what you have already seen that would change your mind.
Final score – 6.5/10
By Mitch Adams