Monday, January 16, 2017

A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 1 Netflix Series Review

A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017-)
Season 1 - 8 episodes (2017)

Watch A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix
Created by: Mark Hudis, Lemony Snicket (based on the novel by)
Starring: Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Joan Cusack, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes
Rated: TV-Y7

Based on Lemony Snicket's children's books, three orphaned children are pursued by Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), their murderous relative who wants their inheritance.

The style, witty dialog, and colorful characters make this a lot of fun. It's a show in which you can tell the actors are having a lot of fun, doing something different from the standard. It's one of the few seasons of television I want to watch again just to see which clues I missed and to hear the sharp dialog.
My only complaint is that this season is one long teaser, urging us to keep watching. Watch another episode, watch another season. By the end we're no closer to answers, though there are many clues provoking additional questions.
There's certainly a lot of story, but it gets repetitive. It never develops past the kids on the run from Olaf. While I like this season, I wanted a bit more from the story. What is the ultimate goal? Providing the kids with a definite destination would have given the events more impact.
Watch it.

I haven't read the books or seen the 2004 movie with Jim Carrey. This is my introduction into this unique franchise. Even the marketing is subversive, with Patrick Warburton telling us not to watch. It's reverse psychology that compels you  to at least check this out when you're told the experience is so unpleasant you won't enjoy it.

While adults will find this a lot of fun, it's aimed at teens. Adults talk down to the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, and adults are frequently useless. No one is genuinely interested in the kids. The show embodies the worst of adults, at least from a kids view. Adults are well meaning but impotent.
The show is self aware and sarcastic. While it doesn't break the fourth wall, it often nudges it making references to streaming entertainment, movies, and much more.
Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris).
It's not a show made for rapid viewing as that causes it to become repetitive. Time in between episodes would also give fans that don't know the series the ability to begin speculating about the mysteries.
Throughout I kept wondering about the end goal. For season one, there isn't one. What do the kids want? In the short term, it's to escape Olaf, but this series needs an overarching goal. This is setup, though I'm sure with additional seasons, the season will become retroactively better. This is an introduction that doesn't get both feet into the plot. We only ever get hints of the deeper mysteries.
Two episodes are devoted to each book as the mystery keeps getting deeper. The theme song updates after each pair of episodes to remain current with the children's plight. The plan is for three total seasons, covering five books in season two, and the last four in the third season.
Klaus, Sunny, and Violet Baudelaire.
Despite the lack of help, the Baudelaire children are able to repel the evil Count Olaf and his cronies. It's a wacky tale with colorful characters that's quite dark as the children bounce from one guardian to another. As the title implies, they experience a series of unfortunate events.
The world is full of extremes, from a quirky judge with an extensive library to leeches with razor sharp teeth. It's a stylized world that feels like something from a child's imagination.
Count Olaf as Captain Sham.
Count Olaf is a theater actor that wants the inheritance the children received when their parents died in a house fire. It's hinted that Olaf may have had a part in that fire.
Tasked with finding Olaf is the banker Poe, who muses that, "He's an actor, so you know his excitement is genuine."
While the children are initially placed in Olaf's charge, his schemes are the reason they are removed from his care. Olaf chases the children throughout season one, employing costumes and tricks to get close to them. While it's obvious to us and the kids when Olaf is in disguise, the adults are painfully dim about Olaf's intentions. Poe is quick to disbelief the kids, dismissing their assertions as imagination.
Sir (Don Johnson), the boss of the sawmill.
The children are then sent to live with Monty Montgomery followed by Josephine. Josephine is severely preoccupied with grammar, failing to do what's needed because she's scared of the world. Each character is a different satire of an adult. Poe the banker is always preoccupied with paperwork and following the rules. Adults frequently fail to see what's right in from of them because they aren't looking. Later at the Sawmill, Sir (Don Johnson) is only preoccupied with profits.
Father (Will Arnett).
Recurring scenes feature father and mother (Will Arnett and Colbie Smulders). That arc took a surprising turn.

The symbol of a stylized eye is a frequently recurring symbol that links the Baudelaire's parents, their frequently changing caregivers, and Olaf. It's the mark of a secret society. While we don't know much, and the kids know even less, I'm guessing that mystery will expand in season two.
Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton), the narrator.
While Lemony Snicket is the narrator, he has a link to both Olaf and the Baudelaire's parents. I don't know from what point of time he is narrating the story, but I'm guessing he'll become a part of it eventually.

Sharp dialog and dry wit is one of the reasons I want to watch this again. This is a show not afraid to make fun of itself or the characters.
A photograph of the Baudelaire parents and others.
While the children bounce around, by season's end they're heading to boarding school. Looks like that will be the setting for season two.

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