19 January 2017

Response to Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events

Some months ago, there was a show that premiered that seemingly everybody on the internet got excited about. It was some sort of reunion based on what I believe is called Gilmore Girls, which appears to be a show that aired on TV sometime in the past. After this exciting reunion aired, I stumbled across a number of bloggers' reaction posts in honor of the reunion series. These were extremely confusing to read, considering I've never seen anything of either the original show or the reunion.

However, those posts gave me a brilliant idea of what, as a blogger, I should do when a show came out that I was passionately excited about.

I am a fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events. You know how most kids my age were Harry Potter fans? Similar to that sort of passion, just not a series that managed to get quite as much fame as the Harry Potter series did. I have always loved the use of the English language in this series, and have read all of the off-shoots such as the Unauthorized Autobiography and The Beatrice Letters. I have even read the other Lemony Snicket books, including The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming, which has become one of my family's favorite not-Christmas stories and has inspired us to make latkes on a number of occasions. I will say, I've never read anything by Daniel Handler that I actually liked--his adult fiction is too dark and gory for my tastes, but when he writes as Lemony Snicket, I love his work for children and regularly recommend the books to any parents trying to get their middle-schooler to read something, anything at all.

So, it's not a surprise that I was watching the first episode of A Series of  Unfortunate Events within an hour of finding out that the episodes were now available. I wanted to collect and record my impressions of the series for any other Snicket-fans. And the rest can just be as confused as I was when you are were all discussing Gilmore Girls. Payback time!

*There might be spoilers in this list. I'm not sure. I don't think so, but then, the first book came out in 1999, and I started reading it shortly all of this seems like common knowledge to me.

> I like Lemony Snicket as narrator, and his signature defining of words "a word which here means"...but it was a bit jarring at first that you could see his face out in the open like that. Never actually seeing Lemony Snicket's face is a consistent move throughout the books. I got used to it, though, and enjoyed scenes with him, particularly the hotel scenes.

> The overall bizarre, surrealistic feel of the show fits the stories very well, and feels more appropriate than trying to set Unfortunate Events into a more realistic world setting. This story wouldn't quite work in a realistic world. The real world has CPS. And yet...anyone who's ever had to deal with people in power over them who simply cannot use their brains can find something to relate to in this series.

> I liked that it was rather accurate to the books--often to the exact lines said and exact scenes that happen, and yet sometimes there were other added scenes or little surprises that were fun, and kept it from being too predictable for die-hard fans who know the books precisely. (i.e. the little scene where the hook handed man makes three different kinds of buttercream frosting for the wedding cake for Count Olaf to taste--one vanilla, one with a hint of nutmeg, and one that's a bit...lemony. There are a few intriguing side plot angles--referencing mysteries that aren't don't get mentioned till later in the book series--and regarding one significant change...perhaps they thought that the original manner of Dr. Orwell's death was too gory/traumatizing for TV.

> The look of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny was perfect for their characters. Their acting sometimes felt a bit overly stiff and awkward. But they're still endearing.

> I loved detailed references that are caught by those who know the books: the missing sugar bowl...."The world is quiet here."....etc.

> I was worried about Uncle Monty, since I wasn't sure there could be as perfect of a portrayal of Uncle Monty as the way he was in the 2004 movie...but if anything, I like this Uncle Monty ever so slightly more than the one from the movie. And now I wish I had an Uncle Monty, of course.

> Those parents? They were just trying to traumatize us or what??

>As an English teacher I find Aunt Josephine's philosophy that grammar provides all the answers you need admirable. I still don't really like her as a person, though.

> Count Olaf's associates are SO creepy.

> I appreciated the greater diversity in casting of characters as compared to the previous film.

> Normally, I'm drawn to more of the 'bad guys' in books and movies. However, the bad guys in this series are so rotten there is nothing to love. Phil, on the other hand, is awesome. I want a friend like Phil. I think my four favorite characters from the show are Phil, Uncle Monty, Gustav, and Sunny.

> In high school, I wrote poems (mostly limericks, for some reason) about every character in the series. In Count Olaf's poem, I rhymed his name with 'rice pilaf.' In the show, they rhyme Count Olaf's name with 'rice pilaf' in a song they write about him. High school me feels very proud.


Have you seen the show yet? Read the books? What do you love/not love about it?

If you haven't seen it--have you no sense or humor or appreciation for the immense vocabulary contained between the covers of a Verified Functional Dictionary of the English language?
Ashley said...

i haven't read or watched...but it sounds interesting!
blessings to you!

Elizabeth Doren said...

High school you should be very proud. I liked Lemony Snicket growing up and it's great there's a reboot. Also I can't believe i didn't know there was a reboot. I'll need to watch this weekend. I just hope it has my favorite line of all time..."everyone should be able to do one card trick, tell two jokes, and recite three poems, in case they are ever trapped in an elevator."

Unknown said...

I have never acutually read the books (probably mostly because I grew up on a different continent) but it sounds intriguing! If not the books, I'll definitely check out the series!

Trish said...

I haven't read this series, but I want to. It sounds like a great series - and I would like to see the new Netflix series as well!

Unknown said...

I've seen the movie but haven't seen the series. It does sound interesting to see how the series goes. I have to check it out!

Belle | One Awesome Momma

The Bookish Alix said...

I like the show sooooo much better than the movie! I'm so glad they decided to redo it.

Alix |

Moonofsilver said...

We are on episode six of the Netflix series and I like it very much...for only having read maybe the first two books. My sister read them all I remember, maybe one day I will :)

kanderson13 said...

I have a bunch of mixed feelings about the show.

I too grew up reading ASOUE instead of Harry Potter, and was completely obsessed. I really like how closely they followed each book, but you know what really got to me?

The fact that Mr. Poe IS NOT FAT AT ALL. He is TOO slim. That man needs to resemble a beach ball.
Uncle Monty is my favorite of the guardians, and so I was happy with how he was portrayed (Billy Connolly was brilliant though, and is the better Monty, IMHO).

I LOVED the twist with the parents - well, once I understood where they were going with it. At first I threw a fit, but no one I was watching it with knew why because they hadn't read the books.

I hope they make a second season! And now I have even more reason to re-read the books. :)

p.s. This is Kelly from We Are The Andersons - EVERY time I try and comment on your blog, it blocks me. Sad day. :(

kanderson13 said...

I guess I have to comment through a weird blogger account, and not my Wordpress one? BOO. Oh well. At least my comments will show up now.

Brita Long said...

My younger brother read these books, and I borrowed maybe the first six? I intended to read them all, but life happened. I should read them all this year and then watch this series.

Joscelyn said...

Ooh, I was wondering how it was...It looked really interesting from the previews! I've never read the books or watched the movie so I wouldn't have anything to compare it to.

Unknown said...

I have read the books and saw the movies but I kinda like the Netflix reboot directed by Neal Patrick Harris and esp love Sunny! :)