There’s a real art to making a TV show that appeals to children and adults alike. It’s much more difficult than making a show that’s only designed to appeal to adults, because adults are silly. Kids demand more from their TV shows – and they won’t wait for seven hours for a series to “get good” as many adults do.
I’ve never read a Lemony Snicket book, but if they’re as smart as this TV show, I might have to start. I can honestly say, having watched the first couple of episodes of this series (covering the events that transpire in the first of the books), that I haven’t had so much fun watching a TV show in a long time.
The show is about three unlucky kids who end up orphaned, homeless, but only a few years away from a huge inheritance. And this enormous wealth, and the evil Count Olaf’s efforts to claim it, form the basis for this series’ early going. There are many more mysteries unfolding, it seems – but the focal performance of Count Olaf, by the always-excellent Neil Patrick Harris, is enough to keep any viewer occupied.
Seriously, this is a real dream performance from Harris – his every twitch and aside is perfectly measured. You can’t keep your eyes off him, as he sings and struts and scowls his way through some fantastic dialogue. His Count Olaf looks like an unfinished sketch of a coathanger, and the whole show hangs from him like the comfiest, fanciest robe.
Oh, and this show is fancy. So fancy. There’s a real air of confidence about the whole affair. It’s great – it knows it’s great – and the cast are clearly having a great deal of fun playing these big characters in their delicious costumes on some of the most delicious sets.
Lemony Snicket, the narrator of the story, is on-screen throughout. He warns us that we shouldn’t watch, that there are no happy endings, that he cries himself to sleep every night – and you’re delighted every time he pops up, as the brilliant Patrick Warburton channels the dark charisma of Rod Serling. When you’re enjoying a story, and a character off to the side has you thinking – “Well, what’s his story?” – you know you’re watching something special. From the first beat of the show, where you’re told to look away, you’re hooked.
Glorious, funny, dark, stupid, mature stuff. For kids, and adults alike.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events is on NETFLIX now.
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