A Series of Unfortunate Events (2018)
In life, we are presented with different challenges and, sometimes, great difficulties. We are forced to deal with and learn from them, so as to avoid them in the future. This happens with the hope of success and happiness. However, when it comes to the Baudelaire Orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, it seems that everything that could go wrong does go wrong. The story of these orphans is as grim a tale as you could imagine, and once you start to follow their dark journey, there is no turning back.
On March 30th, Netflix released the second season to A Series of Unfortunate Events, a continuation of the Baudelaire’s epic adventures, and misgivings, from the series’ initial release in early 2017. Unfortunate Events stars Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, and Presley Smith as the main protagonists, and they’re joined by Neil Patrick Harris as the menacing Count Olaf, Patrick Warburton as the narrating Lemony Snicket, and K. Todd Freeman as the oblivious Mr. Poe. The series is also packed with a slate of supporting characters and guest stars throughout each episode.
In the second season, the Baudelaire Orphans are continuing their escape from Count Olaf, who is chasing the fortune their parents left behind after perishing in a fire. His aspirations for wealth and fame means he will stop at nothing and will let nobody get in his way. With a history in theater, or the theatre,and his unknown involvement with the mysterious V.F.D., Olaf is eccentric and dons various disguises and costumes to get close to the children. And, as with the first season, he gets close, but never quite finds success.
Lemony Snicket remains present as the somber and foreboding narrator, often warning the audience and encouraging them to stop watching the show. As the on-screen narrator, though, he has no direct involvement with the Baudelaires. Despite this, there are two points in which Snicket is found within the actual story, but only for a moment. Lemony Snicket is clearly an important character, but like Olaf, his cards are being kept close to the vest.
Mr. Poe, the banker charged with overseeing the Baudelaire estate until Violet, the oldest sibling, comes of age, is as unaware as ever. Of course, he isn’t alone in his cluelessness. It seems that every adult, with the exception of a handful of key supporting characters, is totally ignorant of what is happening around them. Despite the Baudelaire’s warnings and constant urging, they don’t realize that Olaf is in their midst until a dramatic reveal at the conclusion of each chapter. Because of this unhelpfulness, the children are never safe.
The silver lining in this season is the Baudelaire children’s chance meeting with a pair of orphans, the Quagmires, and they quickly become friends. Their parents, along with a third sibling, were lost in a fire under strange circumstances. Much like the Baudelaires. As with anything in the series, the Quagmires’ fate is not hopeful and they, too, find themselves in a series of unfortunate events.
Much like the first season, A Series of Unfortunate Events is campy, over-the-top, and, at times, in your face. The absurd humor can come across as a garish display to the casual viewer and that would be perfectly understandable. But it is this absurdism, and the show’s tight embrace of it, that drives the story and makes it enjoyable. The series also takes pleasure in breaking the fourth wall in its pursuit of entertainment.
The inspiration for this show comes from Daniel Handler and his series of thirteen books by the same name, which were released between 1999 and 2006. The Netflix version of this story is not an exact adaption of Handler’s original work but remains a faithful interpretation that captures the spirit of his writing. In 2004, a condensed film version of the series’ first three books was released, also titled A Series of Unfortunate Events, and starred Jim Carrey as Count Olaf. The film failed to gain traction and any plans for sequels were abandoned.
As Netflix prepares for the series’ third, and final season, the Baudelaire children are getting closer to a conclusion. The season two finale left viewers with a cliff-hanger, but it is obvious that the show’s protagonists will finally be getting some answers in 2019. Until then, A Series of Unfortunate Events has plenty to offer in granting viewers a fun and not-so-serious streaming experience.
This review originally appeared on Salt Lake Film Review