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May 14, 2018 | by  | in Arts TV | [ssba]

A Series of Unfortunate Events

Hey, I’m Emma, I’m here on a holiday from the film section for this issue. You’ll find your usual commentators across in the film section, and your regular scheduled programming will return next week.

“This show will wreck your evening, your home life, and your day. Every single episode is nothing but dismay. Look away.”

Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is a welcome absurdist respite in a world of shows that just make far too much temporal sense.

Lemony Snicket’s mad oeuvre has finally been given the remake it deserves and I am loving it. The three Baudelaire children — Violet, Klaus, and Sunny — lose their parents in a house fire. As they’re passed around from guardian to guardian, an evil actor called Count Olaf tries to trick their caretakers into giving him the children, so he can murder them and steal their fortune.

It’s a dark premise for what is, in all accounts, a pretty funny show.

What time period are we in? Who knows! Sometimes there are horse-drawn carriages, but Count Olaf also talks about Netflix, so it could be far in the future, or in a past where we invented streaming television many years too early.

The novels of ASOUE are a damn good read — a tad tangential, a tad lovelorn — but the television show finds the perfect balance between comedy and tragedy, making us feel bad for the orphans but also wanting to see more of Count Olaf’s maniacal plots.

Count Olaf, a failing actor, is played by the wonderful Neil Patrick Harris, who brings a bizarre joy to the piece, spending a ton of time singing and dancing, as well as dressing up in absurd costumes. His troupe of actors also delight, with the Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender and the Hook-Handed Man being a couple of my favourites.

Our child stars also do not disappoint. Malina Weissman (Violet) and Louis Hynes (Klaus) are incredibly strong in their roles, considering how long they’ve been in the game. They’re endearing and inquisitive, and you can’t help but feel sorry for them.

This show has eight episodes per season and every two episodes is used to cover one of the books. I think this is a great decision, as it allows us to get entrenched in these new, weird locales, and it stops the writers from cutting too much from each book to fit it into one episode. My favourite episode(/s) so far have been The Miserable Mill (Part One and Two). The Baudelaires get taken to a mill and put to work. Count Olaf reunites with his ex-girlfriend, Georgina Orwell, who is the town’s optometrist, and then masquerades as her secretary, Shirley (yes, Neil Patrick Harris does full drag and it is phenomenal), to try and steal the Baudelaires’ fortune.

There’s hypnotism, a well-known Kiwi actor with a particularly heavy accent, lots of foe-yay, and far too many situations that children shouldn’t be put into. Seriously, any health and safety professional would have a coronary.

A Series of Unfortunate Events might be utterly bonkers, but it is definitely worth watching. Seasons one and two are airing on Netflix currently, with a final season or two coming in the next year.


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