The average reader of A Series of Unfortunate Events will feel nostalgic, perhaps even protective, over the franchise for many reasons. Firstly, there were approximately 247 books in the series, meaning you spent roughly four to five years reading them. They played a large part in your life and you rightly feel some sense of ownership.
Secondly, the Jim Carey cinematic interpretation of the books back in 2004 has given you severe trust issues that they will be treated properly again. (Very little needs to be said other than who tries to put three books in one film?! Can you imagine three Harry Potter books in one film?)
And lastly, you had to endure years of your parents worrying over your mental health when they read the blurb on the back of every book which went something along the lines of: ‘here is a tale of utter misery where the Baudelaire’s will be more miserable and experience more misery than anyone in the world. Ever. And it doesn’t end well. FYI’. That’s right – Lemony Snicket (real name Daniel Handler) was the original emo-kid.
So this Friday, when A Series of Unfortunate Events hits Netflix there is a lot riding on it for fans. And if you were in the small percentage of the population who didn’t read these books (presumably because you couldn’t find the opening to your secluded rabbit-burrow) then you should still give it a watch – because chances are you will never have seen anything like it.
Yes – it has been a shame that up until now no one has known how to approach Snicket’s weird world, steeped in sombre tones and yet clashing quirky and humorous undercurrents. In a weird and wonderful world which always seems to be insisting on it’s own laborious inadequacy, it must be an impossible challenge to portray the dark humour and perpetually nonsensical atmosphere of the novels whilst remaining watchable.
However, there have been some increasingly good signs that Netflix may have just pulled it off. For starters, it is fronted by the extremely talented Neil Patrick Harris who may just be the multi-talented individual to encapsulate the evil, but stupid, terrifying, but equally clumsy and melodramatic Count Olaf. If there is one man who knows how to play an evil, scheming drama-queen, it feels like he may be it.
Moreover, early reviews released this week have suggested that Lemony Snicket’s narrative voice – a strangely smoothing, familiar, foreboding omnipresent voice in the books – carries the viewer in much the same way through the series. Most importantly however, each book will span across two 50-minute long episodes, meaning each weird corner of the plot is explored thoroughly (rather than the jerking, relentless pace of the film which shattered through each book in around 30 minutes).
We’re hoping these premonitions are correct and the series is a hit. Then it will finally be OK to say ‘I used to read books about 3 newly orphaned kids, with a stalker-ish old man who kept trying to adopt them / kill them for their money and it always ended miserably’ without sounding damaged.
Oh and because it’s Netflix, all episodes are out on Friday 13th of January – so you can binge watch the whole thing this weekend.