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So many time passed since I read "A Series of Unfortunate Events". Thirteen books, and I had to wait for the last two or three, just when things started to clarify and cliffhangers hurt most :) I never saw the movie released few years ago (the trailer was enough and seriously, Jim Carrey as Count Olaf?), but a Netflix tv series sounded promising. No big spoilers.


Fist things first, I was wondering if the books' atmosphere can be achieved with a television narrator. In the books, the narrator constantly comments the events, warns us, sometimes talks about himself, sometimes refuses to give us details etc, so we feel he's always with us, telling the story from his perspective. I couldn't imagine achieving the same effect with just a voiceover, and in the series, Lemony Snicket (the narrator) appears on screen, not seen by the characters, talking directly to the camera. It works very well. He's grim and depressed, and when he tells us to watch something else, it isn't annoying as it could be, but makes me smile and of course stay and watch. So - exactly like in the books.

As far as I remember, there aren't many changes in the plot. One book is two episodes and it feels like there's enough time for each story. Somehow the creators managed to make Sunny, an infant, feel like as important part of the siblings as Violet and Claus and I keep wondering how some scenes with her have been shot (in case you don't know the books - she's played with a giant snake, played poker and was in a cage outside a window. That sort of actions). She's subtitled, so the narrator doesn't have to explain what she said every time as he does in the books - very good idea. The events are often early announced so even when something good happens to the siblings, we know it's not going to last long - again, exactly like in the books where the atmosphere of misery is very important. My main complain is the secret organization subplot, which I think didn't appear in the first books, or was so subtle I can't remember it. We knew very little about it until the last few books, and I remember it was very exciting when we finally got some answers. In the series, we learn a very important fact in the first or second episode, and we get scenes and scenes about the subplot. I think it would be better if that story was in the background, barely noticeable, so it could come back and surprise viewers in the finale and next season. It changes the story's perspective from the very beginning.

I'm not entirely happy with actors who play Claus and Violet. The story is gothic, often absurd and unrealistic, but the two of them always act 100% serious and sometimes it just doesn't feel right to me. Count Olaf, on the other hand, gets better and better, and with every episode I like him more. I was sceptic about Neil Patrick Harris, but his Count Olaf is a great and a bad actor at the same time - or rather he's a great actor who doesn't have to give his best shot because people are stupid and fall for his lies anyway - and I found out I always look forward to that part of every story when he appears, playing another person (it's different person every book). It's not only Harris, it's also the lines he gets, often very funny. I guess he's the real star of the series. Oh, look at me, liking the bad guy again.

My favourite Harris' part so far - "Stefano"


I've only watched five episodes so far (three to go), but I thought I'd write about it now, while I don't read anyone else's opinions (I don't want spoilers). I think the books' fans should be satisfied, though, and I already cry internally when I think about waiting for the second season. The first one has eight episodes so it only covers four books, which means there are probably going to be three seasons. Maybe I'll reread some books in the meantime.

Comments

alumfelga
Feb. 12th, 2017 06:58 pm (UTC)
Er... it's a tv series based on a series of books. The movie just happened in between ;)
aletheiafelinea
Feb. 12th, 2017 07:20 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know, mental shortcut. All of those registered as 'novelties' to me at their time, so overall it stays valid. XD
alumfelga
Feb. 18th, 2017 06:44 pm (UTC)
Technically, it's not remake if it's different medium, right? But I get what you mean. If there's a Harry Potter tv series one day, it'd feel like a remake. I always wanted it - so much has been cut from the movies! - but I don't know if the audience'd accept Harry and other characters being played by other actors. The more time passes, the harder it gets.
Anyway, "A Series of Unfortunate Events" the movie was hardly a hit, hence the relatively fast second approach.