My dear readers, I try to always give you my best when I write a review. I also try to be as brutally honest as possible, no matter who I offend. With that said, I feel as though I have reached new ground when it comes to the new Netflix original series Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. What do I mean? Let me put it this way: after several weeks of pondering on what I’ve seen of this new series (that’s right—I did not watch the whole season) and discussing the show with my fellow Twin Cities Geek staffers and a few friends, my best response to the show is as follows: meh.
Allow me to describe what I am attempting to articulate. I may be asked to turn in my geek card when I admit that, as a child of the 1990s, I have never read a single book of the Unfortunate Events series, nor did I know it was a book series until after I saw the 2004 film starring Jim Carrey. Because of that, I cannot say the series was this or that in comparison to the book series. I could, hypothetically, compare what I’ve seen of the series and the movie, but seeing as it has been over 10 years since I’ve seen it, I think I’ll keep simple.
Before I bum everyone out with what didn’t work for me, let me talk about some positives regarding the series. I truly believe the physical inclusion of Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, rather than having an incorporeal narrator, was pure genius. It is reminiscent of the host of the Twilight Zone, and Warburton is able to be hilarious without so much as a facial expression change. What also worked for me was Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, who not only performed well in the very physical role but was able to pull off the humorous snide remarks that can be easily missed if one is not paying close enough attention to the dialogue. However, despite all my praise for Harris, in many ways his portrayal feels like a more devious version of Barney Stinson. But that may be overthinking on my part.
Now to what doesn’t work for this series. Actually, allow me to correct myself: it isn’t so much that something doesn’t work, but rather . . . I don’t get it. I watched a total of about three episodes of the series and called it quits. I didn’t love the show, nor did I dislike it, but it simply wasn’t for me. The best way I can explain my position is that I felt I was missing something when I watched it, as though there had been a big conversation prior to when I started watching and no one bothered to catch me up. So, there I was, watching and thinking, “This isn’t horrible, but I neither get the big deal nor do I care to continue.”
Let me compare it to something I truly love: Harry Potter. Harry Potter is a universe where you have to let go of the realistic and allow the whimsical to take over, and once that is done, you fall in love with it. I am betting Lemony Snicket’s world falls along the same lines in that you either fall for the magic or you don’t. In theory, this series has everything I would personally like—dark tones, comedy, a sense of fantasy—but for some reason, the whimsy one needs to find in such a show comes off as more stiff and awkward for me. I fully admit that I could easily be in the minority when it comes to the show, seeing as it has been praised, but it is simply how the cookie crumbled for me on this one.
To use the quote I so often use: all I’m saying is . . . I’m just saying.