Posted January 29, 2017 by GP Manalo in Movies/TV

TV Review: Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 1

Disclaimer: I have never come to reading at least one of the books in my entire life and It has been ages since I watched the original film. If you are expecting me to say how faithful the show is to the books, then this isn’t it. Instead feel free to read my embarrassing new discoveries.


By the moment the show opens up you are welcomed by Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket uttering a warning “If you were interested in stories with a happy ending then you would be better off somewhere else. In this story there is not only no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle.” And it doesn’t sell itself short by that because that IS exactly what you are going in for.

ASOUE1The show is based on a series of books of the same name by Danny Handler (Lemony Snicket being a pen name). This mashes together the first four books into 8 episodes of two-parters as it tells the misadventures of the Baudelaire Children – Violet, Klaus, and Sunny – who have lost their parents in a terrible yet mysterious house fire. Because of this they must be put into the care of their closest relative and it is a dastardly figure named, Count Olaf. But this man is only hellbent on stealing the enormous fortune these children have inherited. Even if they escape from his clutches time after time, Count Olaf along with his theater troupe will not be too far behind to take their fortune.

I pretty much watched this show with fresh eyes. To my discovery there were so many new things to behold in this show and for a non-book reader like me would find this show addicting because of how much I want secrets to be uncovered right away. There’s an even bigger picture like a secret society, a hypnotic optometrist, how the Baudelaire’s parents aren’t what they seem after all and to my embarrassment, I’ve only discovered that Lemony Snicket wasn’t a real person all this time. Things that I cannot believe I was missing out on all this time.

It’s quite amazing how they got so much material done in two episodes of a whole book without it getting boring. It’s redundant of how it always follows the kids to a new guardian and have Count Olaf being steps ahead of them but they made it work through the show’s episodic storytelling. The show had many twists that are both intriguing and at some point heart wrenching, the theme song wasn’t really kidding that this show can only give its audience nothing but dismay.

ASOUE2One would describe this to be a melancholy of sorts but I believe that to perfectly describe the entirety of the show this is “Tim Burton and Wes Anderson’s lovechild”. Think Tim Burton’s gothic and demented visuals masked with an innocent nature to them and the booming Danny Elman-y music, but in the mix of it you also have the subtle quirkiness, and the intricately done set designs, Wes Anderson is known for.

The visuals they had here may come off a bit cartoony to some, there are times where you could tell that certain things and backgrounds were CG or it was recorded on a sound studio. Somehow they made it work really well as a stylistic choice on how over-the-top everything is. However, I could not say the same for the distracting CG floating face of Sunny (gave me flashbacks of that baby in Twilight all over again).

I do find it admirable how the show explores themes such as dealing with loss and how these kids are exposed to such deception as they are going around the world on their own. It’s relevant considering that how deception is everywhere these days and it doesn’t matter if we see it or not. That even despite how smart you are or your own titles you can still fail to be challenged against someone like Count Olaf as they exploits your weaknesses or vulnerabilities.

“I prefer long-form television to the movies. It’s so much more convenient to consume entertainment from the comfort of your own home.” - if that ain't the best meta humor in ASOUE I don't know what is.

“I prefer long-form television to the movies. It’s so much more convenient to consume entertainment from the comfort of your own home.” – if that ain’t the best meta humor in ASOUE I don’t know what is.

The cast is a total romp! The Baudelaire children – Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, and Presley Smith – were delightful. I found it admirable how despite these kids are super geniuses they are still portrayed as children who struggle with trying to prove themselves to the adults on showing what they’re capable of in terms of. But what you’re really here for is Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf; what makes him distinct from his predecessor, Jim Carrey is the fact that the lines he say and the things he do are not as improvised as Carrey’s. However, what Harris offers to the table is great either way and show’s how talented of an actor he really is. He mostly gets the most laughs through some playful banter and he as a slew of roles as the Count, a tiny man with a weird voice, a sea captain, and even a receptionist in drag to show off his hammy range. But it’s really his darker scenes where we have not seen before that truly shows how much of an cruel and despicable person this man whether it is by manipulating somebody to do as he says or physically hurting somebody.

But I believe that the best performance of the whole is Patrick Warburton as the narrator, Lemony Snicket. With his deadpan and sarcastic narrative style really does enhance the storytelling of the entire show. I never thought I would enjoy watching him cut the scene to explain plot devices and vocabulary from time to time. The rest of the cast like the adults being K. Todd Freeman’s Mr. Poe, Joan Cusack’s Justice Strauss, Aasif Mandvi’s Monty, Alfre Woodard’s Aunt Josephine and most of the adults were portrayed as the oblivious and prideful adults but they do have layers and a certain charm to each of them that makes more than a one-dimensional quirky character.


In the end, Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is an enjoyable 8-hour binge from start to finish. It has enough laughs by its dark humor, intrigue, some weighty topics like accepting loss, trust, and perseverance and it is nice that they do not shy away from explaining such themes to a targeted +7 audience. You will definitely not regret taking Lemony Snicket’s advices from looking away despite its unhappy endings or criminally unfair situations these children put themselves into.



GP Manalo

G.P. Manalo is a student by day, and a resident tortured writer by night. Writing to keep him sane from all the Business School papers and presentations piling up each week.