Voracious Fan Dialogue~In Which All Three Seasons Of A Series Of Unfortunate Events Are Now Before My Eyeballs And I Am Dead (Figuratively)

Hello, friends!

The new year isn’t even through its first month, school is back in full swing, all sorts of obligations are beginning to pile up, and I find myself totally incapacitated. I am unable to focus on anything at all.

The truth is, folks, that I have been murdered.

And the murderer (a word which here means “a person who committed a murder”) is none other than…SUNNY BAUDELAIRE.

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And pretty much everything else that has to do with that show, actually.

It is entirely possible that I was watching ‘The Slippery Slope’ at one o’clock in the morning on New Year’s Day. Apt, I must say. That’s how this year is going to go.

It has indeed been a slippery slope (a term which here means “AAAAAAAAAAAAAH! I AM FIGURATIVELY SCREAMING BECAUSE OF TAXIS AND SALMON. THIS IS HEALTHY, RIGHT?”). Ever since the first season appeared on Netflix two years ago in January of 2017, I have been falling, and falling hard.

But this was supposed to be a review or something. And it’s spoiler free, which I never do. So let’s do this!

Season 1 (8 episodes)

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Based on the first four books of this ghastly series, (The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window, and The Miserable Mill) season 1 captures the wacky yet morbid essence of Lemony Snicket’s account of the Baudelaire orphans as they attempt to evade the wicked Count Olaf. The show follows the books faithfully, with some notable (andย  often welcome) changes that feel like a natural expansion, rather than an unnecessary add-on, to the story.

Some of these changes include the addition of characters Larry and Jacqueline, (a waiter and Mr. Poe’s secretary respectively) which gives us an early glimpse into a secret organization that isn’t introduced until the very end of book five. We are also introduced to a number of characters that never appear in the books, but are merely mentioned (such as Gustav, and the mysterious parents).

There are a few logistical changes as well, such as the way the climax of The Miserable Mill plays out. Trust me, what happens in the show makes so much more sense than what happens in the book. Not that most of the stuff that happens in this show is entirely believable, but it’s more believable.

Another great thing about television is that you can insert musical numbers!

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…Which is spectacular. If you like that sort of thing.

Then there’s casting. How can you go wrong with Patrick Warburton and Joan Cusack? I would not have envisioned Patrick Warburon as Lemony Snicket, but his delivery of the lines is so dry and melancholy that I fell in love with his portrayal almost instantly.

Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf took me longer to warm up to. At first he came across as plain goofy, like Jim Carrey, and I didn’t like that. But by the end I was picking up on some subtler attributes of his characterization. He’s different than the Count Olaf in the book, but he is effective in his own way.

The kids are lovable, if a bit stiff at times. And Klaus is too tall, but I can live with that. Sunny (Presley Smith) takes the cake in most scenes, though sometimes the computer animated baby stood out like a sore thumb. They should have just gotten an infant who could actually shuffle cards, come on.

The overall design of the show is fitting with the books: sort of outlandish and timeless and colorful and macabre, but a lot of it is weirdly similar to the 2004 movie, which encompassed the first three books. Since it felt like we’d seen a lot of this stuff before, I was excited to get to the next season, where we’d be in all new territory.

So of course I waited very patiently.

Season 2 (10 episodes)

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Season 2 adapts books five through nine of the series: The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital,ย andย The Carnivorous Carnival.

The most terrifying thing, of course, is that the children got old.

There was an awful gap between filming season 1 and seasons 2 and 3, and it really shows. If they’d only taken my advice and frozen the children in carbonite between seasons we wouldn’t have this problem.

But they faced this issue as gracefully as anyone could hope for. I won’t tell you what they did, but it was brilliant.

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Season 2 follows the pattern of season 1, keeping pretty much the same flavor, sticking close to the books and not trying to do anything too exciting and “new” because that’s not what bookworms like me want, okay?

Season 2 continues to introduce characters before they appear in the books, so that we get to know them better. One character that is introduced early on has been totally altered from the book, and I love what they did with her. Instead of a wishy-washy spineless human, Olivia Caliban is a kindhearted school librarian with an innate physical dexterity and a love for children.

The show also continues to flesh out secret organization stuff, with Larry and Jacqueline as well as new characters, and it brings in a taxi that isn’t supposed to show up until book twelve, which possibly made me geek out a little bit.

Also there are more musical numbers!

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And salmon. Did I mention the salmon? Overall this show has so much food in it, it’s glorious.

Season 3 (7 episodes)

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In a way, the last four books of the series (The Slippery Slope, The Grim Grotto, The Penultimate Peril, and The End) are the hardest to adapt. The tone of the last books gets considerably more serious than the first part of the series. Not totally serious of course, but comparatively there are fewer laugh-out-loud witty remarks in books ten though thirteen than there are in previous books. The formula gets broken. There aren’t new guardians. Count Olaf doesn’t have as many new and hilarious disguises.

Also these last books are notably longer than the ones preceding them. The episodes, however, do not get longer. In fact, the final book, The End, which happens to be the longest of them all, is only one episode, instead of the customary two. You can be sure that I was extremely nervous about this.

For me, season 3 was the most “disappointing” as well as the most brilliant. I’m not sure how those two things go together.

Midway through The Grim Grotto episodes I was feeling pretty wonky about the whole thing. There wasn’t enough wit to distract me from the awkward dialogue or the other little mistakes happening. Then in The Penultimate Peril they cut out one of my absolutely favorite scenes. Why.

There wasn’t nearly enough hugging and crying going on. Mushrooms weren’t mushrooms. Characters were randomly falling off the face of the planet (figuratively).

Larry and Jacqueline are hardly present in season 3 at all, which feels like a cheat considering how much time we’ve spent with them thus far. I was kind of starting to panic.

WHAT is going on here? It’s not like this is some OVERLY EXAGGERATED MELODRAMA.

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…Okay, so maybe it is.

When it really boils down to it, the problems with most of season 3 are small. I was just expecting absolute perfection. And the way everything got wrapped up in The End overcame all of my apprehensions.

The writers actually drew from another Lemony Snicket book, which was a wonderful and heart wrenching choice. It was really the perfect way to end it and I am so glad they though of it.

Also by this point I completely adore Neil Patrick Harris’ portrayal of Count Olaf and I can’t believe I ever doubted him.

In Conclusion

I’ve been talking for a long time now, and I haven’t even said everything that needs to be said. HOW CAN WORDS EXPRESS THIS SHOW?

Overall, it is an excellent, solid adaption of the series. It misses out on some details, particularly later on, but on the whole it creates a more cohesive structure than the books did, and fleshes out details that enhance the story. It is faithful to the books while also supplementing them in such an organic way that you feel like this is the way things were supposed to be all along.

This is how a proper book-to-film adaption is done, folks.

To adapt a series of this magnitude is no small feat. As far as long series adaptions go, this is one of the best ones I’ve seen. I like the Harry Potter adaptions, but the flaws in those are much bigger. The Narnia adaptions were never completed, and neither were the Percy Jackson adaptions (for painfully obvious reasons). Guys, just follow the books, seriously.

Have you seen ASOUE? Have you obsessed over this show as much as I have? (For your own sake, I kind of hope not?) What is a book to movie adaption that you absolutely love? What is one that you can’t stand? What was the first thing you did in 2019? I would love to hear from you!

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10 thoughts on “Voracious Fan Dialogue~In Which All Three Seasons Of A Series Of Unfortunate Events Are Now Before My Eyeballs And I Am Dead (Figuratively)

    1. Haha, well, Netflix can be something of a black hole at times. I still live with my parents so I can use theirs, and I am grateful for it, but sometimes I spend more time watching TV when I could be reading or getting something done. But it’s hard with shows like this that you can only watch if you have Netflix! Netflix is evil that way.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. AAAHHHHH YESSS!!! Great job with the review. I watched the series with my siblings (it was fun cause Mom saw the 1st two episodes w/ us), although we skipped the 2nd to the 4th books because initially it was too depressing for us. I loved the wittiness that appeared in the script through all the seasons, and how seeing the acting and emotion made the characters more human. In S1, I loved Klaus’ anger bc he was stepping up as the man of the house.
    Seeing family as a theme in S3 was thought-provoking. I used to hate Fiona, bc in the book I only saw her as a traitor, but on TV I understood her motives (Hooky is one of my faves ๐Ÿ˜ญ). The Squalor-Spatz relationship was sweet too.
    And when I saw the root of Olaf’s evil in S3, I stopped hating him too haha. Was that theatre flashback in the books? I haven’t read them all yet.
    And I LOVE the ending compared to the book one. It’s cool how Lemony entered the timeline of the story, finally ๐Ÿ˜†

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, I love watching stuff with my siblings! This show is so fun to watch as a family because of all the witty and ridiculous things- Laughing with my siblings and my parents is something I greatly enjoy.
      I love the family theme of the show. There are some themes that aren’t necessarily my favorite, but that one is really at the heart of what I like about the series as a whole. The idea of overcoming the cruelty of the world with the support of family, as well as protecting family from the wickedness out there. And not giving up, even when things are horrible. I love the sibling relationships throughout the story, as well as the sacrificial role of some of the parents!
      Yes, I love what they did with Hooky in the show! And they made Fiona a more sympathetic character as well.
      Olaf is such a well developed villain. He is definitely evil, but you can see why he is the way he is and that’s a really great balance that a lot of stories miss out on. The show actually develops him better in that way than the books do. The book doesn’t have the flashback to that night at the opera, but it does have the scene at the end with Kit.
      And I love Lemony! It’s amazing how he’s the narrator and then he actually comes into the story.
      There are so many delightful things about this show! I am glad to hear from someone else who enjoyed it as well! Thanks for commenting. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Like

  2. Not yet. I haven’t watched it yet. But yesterday I watched a performance of Newsies at a high school near me!!! It was really, really good. I loved Jack Kelly and Catherine(wait, I think that’s her name?) and Jack Kelly and his brother and Davy and his brother. The dance numbers were really good too. Hm, two book to movie adaptations that come to mind are To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. In this case, I prefer the movie to the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. NEWSIES. I love Newsies. Crutchie is my favorite. That’s awesome that the high school did a good job!
      I haven’t read or watched that one, but that is really interesting that you liked the movie better. That happens to me sometimes, but it’s kind of a rare occurrence. A Series of Unfortunate Events comes SO close- So close that I haven’t even decided yet but part of me really wants to say that I like the show better.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I have not seen this, because I haven’t read all the books and I’m one of “those” bookworms. Still, I’ll get to it one day (maybe).
    The only adaption I liked better than the book that comes to mind right now is the Sherlock TV series, which I like quite a lot more than the books and short stories ๐Ÿ˜›

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, that is good that you do things in the right order- I prefer to do things that way but that doesn’t always happen. I did do it with these though.
      Sherlock Holmes I did kind of backwards. I had only ever read an abridged children’s version of some of the stories before watching the TV show (which I liked a lot) and then I read some of the actual stories, which I didn’t like as much as the TV show, so I agree with you there.

      Liked by 1 person

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