Back in 2004, Paramount decided to adapt the work of author Lemony Snicket (aka Daniel Handler) into the feature-length film A Series of Unfortunate Events. Based on the thirteen volume children’s book series of the same name, Handler’s macabre and bizarre tales of three recently orphaned children placed in the care of the scheming (and vicious) Count Olaf aimed to score big at the box office – especially with Jim Carrey playing Olaf.
Unfortunately for Paramount, the film – though not a total disaster – didn't perform well enough to get a sequel (or more). Now over a decade later, Lemony Snicket’s tales are being given another chance – this time as a series on Netflix. Aside from plans to adapt all thirteen novels into episodes, this time around Daniel Handler is much more involved in the creative process. The author is scripting the episodes - and judging by the first initial glimpses we’ve had of the upcoming series, things seem to be shaping up into something much more in line with the books.
Netflix latest trailer for A Series of Unfortunate Events (above) is shorter than the first one we saw less than a month ago, but it’s this one that really seems to round out the tone and depth of the series a little more. Whereas the first trailer focuses more on explaining the overall story of the series, the second trailer serves to highlight the world that the orphaned children – Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire - must navigate in the wake of their parent’s deaths. As a result, there’s more attention to detail and the dark charm of Handler’s world.
Netflix has managed to line up an impressive cast for A Series of Unfortunate Events, with the always-popular Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) in the role of Count Olaf, Oscar-nominee Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage) as Aunt Josephine, Oscar-nominee Joan Cusack (Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping) as Justice Strauss, Emmy-winner Catherine O’Hara as Dr. Georgina Orwell and Usman Ally (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) as the Hook-Handed Man. Klaus and Violet Baudelaire will be played by newcomers Louis Hynes and Malina Weissman (Supergirl). The first season of the series will contain 8 episodes, with some being split up into two-parts.
If the first trailer didn’t catch your attention, then this second look at things might hold a little more appeal. The series comes off almost like something that could be envisioned by a director such as Wes Anderson – complete with the sort of oddball attention to detail and quirky dialog that adds an alluring appeal. The material plays off as tongue in cheek as is intended, but at the same time it avoids the trap of falling too far into hammy schtick – unlike the 2004 Jim Carrey-led effort. Though it’s far too early to make a decision on A Series of Unfortunate Events, Netflix might have another hit on its hands – if not a cult favorite.
Fans of Lemony Snicket will certainly be hopeful that this series delivers everything the books did. With Netflix’s decision to stay true to the novels by adapting all thirteen into episodes and allowing Daniel Handler to write them, this adaption might be as good as it gets. From the look of things so far, that prospect doesn’t seem like such an unfortunate one at all.
A Series of Unfortunate Events season 1 will be available to stream on Netflix starting Friday January 13th, 2017