A Series Of Unfortunate Events is one of the most off-kilter children book series from the past twenty years. Breaking out around the same time as Harry Potter, the thirteen books by Lemony Snicket (the in-universe pen-name of author Daniel Handler) are creepy, strange, yet ultimately affable stories that follow the typically miserable adventures of the Baudilare orphans: inventive Violet, book-worm Klaus and baby Sunny. It was turned into a Jim Carrey-starring movie in 2004; and now, over ten years since the books wrapped up, Netflix are making a brand new TV series.
The series was announced in late 2014 and since then has amassed an impressive collection of talent: creator Handler is writing all the scripts, while Men In Black‘s Barry Sonnenfeld (who was executive producer of the 2004 film) directs a cast led by Neil Patrick Harris as the snarling, greedy villain Count Olaf. We previously got a taste of what Harris is bringing to the role thanks to a teaser and some images, but now there’s a full trailer that shows the extent of his performance.
Following the release of two teasers – including the Olaf introduction and a brilliant one where Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) implores you not to watch the series – the above trailer is the first proper look at how the Netflix show handles the books’ tricky tone. There’s footage here from the first four books, including: the siblings’ initial run-in with Count Olaf in “The Bad Beginning”, their time with reptile-obsessed Uncle Monty in “The Reptile Room”, a brief stay with jittery Aunt Josephine in “The Wide Window” and hard labour under Sir in “The Miserable Mill”.
Harris previously confirmed that each of Handler’s books is being adapted into two, hour-long episodes. That’s more than enough content for a full season; and while some fans may wish Netflix had done the thirteen book series across a single season, this is a fair compromise.
So far, Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events appears to be a very faithful adaptation, balancing moody humour and ruthless sadism in a light package. Visually it’s very similar to the books’ illustrations, with a strange, anachronistic gothic feel to much of the world. In that way the show is similar to the 2004 movie, but that’s mostly because both draw inspiration heavily from Snicket’s original off-kilter designs. There are several updated elements to the Netflix series too, such as Olaf mentioning he bought a faulty sand-timer online, yet they’re still fitting of the wider world. And, yes, Harris is hamming things up brilliantly as Olaf in his many different disguises.
The trailer also highlights the suitability of the cast to their roles. In addition to Harris’ headlining turn, there’s Aasif Mandvi as Monty, Alfre Woodard as Josephine, Joan Cusack as oblivious Justice Strauss and K. Todd Freeman as even more oblivious guardian Mr. Poe. The central child stars (Malina Weissman as Violet and Louis Hynes as Klaus) are relative unknowns, but likewise seem to fit their parts well.
A Series of Unfortunate Events season 1 will be available to stream on Netflix starting Friday January 13th, 2017