The prospect of a TV iteration of the thrilling book series Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events was always going to be a welcome one.
After a movie that failed to kickstart a franchise due to diminished box office returns, it seemed as though there was absolutely no chance of ever witnessing the other books being adapted.
Then,Netflix ordered a TV series, and it's fantastic. Covering the first four of the 13 books in the first eight episodes was a very good idea.
The series is essentially comprised of four movies and proves that the stories are better told over a longer arc. All of the key plots from the first four books are very much present throughout the season.
There are a few meanders from the source material along the way, but they really do the story a lot of justice. These meanders make the whole series a must–see for any fans of the franchise who think they know every single plot point.
Neil Patrick Harris takes on the role of Count Olaf – the elusive first guardian the children are sent to live with. With a witty script and awesome makeup, he was a delight.
On top of that, we got to see him in three disguises that were all a huge contrast from the other. Playing Uncle Monty's assistant, Stephano was definitely the best one.
Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire are probably the brightest kids for their ages in the world. Every single time Olaf appeared in a disguise, they knew straight away, but it's sad that no one seemed to believe them until there was a huge path of destruction caused by the villain and his troupe.
One of the best characters is Justice Strauss. She's played by the amazing Joan Cusack, who has the best comedy timing in the industry. Based on how her story ends fairly early on, however, it seems like she's going to become an integral character down the line.
The kids definitely want her to be their guardian. Throughout the season, they contemplate many times how different their lives would have been if they just been sent to Justice Strauss straight off the bat.
It's sad because it's clear Justice wants to start a family, but instead, she is dragged into Olaf's horrific plan. To be fair, dragged is a bit of a stretch. She is ecstatic to be getting attention.
Count Olaf's theater troupe is the weirdest looking bunch of people on the history of TV. There is a scene with all of them in a car, threatening the children about not going out at night for the fear of bumping into someone scary, and it is bizarre.
One of the more problematic characters is Mr. Poe. Initially, he is great, but his constant lapses in judgment keep getting the kids in a lot of trouble and placing them with people who are not exactly mentally stable.
It's no wonder the kids feel the need to run off because of how terrible he is at his job. K. Todd Freeman turns in a solid performance, but it's a shame the character is so stupid.
All he seems to care about is his promotion at the bank.
His assistant, Jacquelyn, however, is pretty amazing. She is played by Sara Canning from The Vampire Diaries and becomes one of the most integral characters to the story.
Tonally, the series resembles the novels. There's a constant sense of dread because it's evident that nothing ever goes the Baudelaires' way.
The tone is drummed up by Patrick Warburton who takes on the role of Lemony Snicket. Lemony narrates the story to the viewer, and the level of detail he gives is astounding.
With that in mind, it can get a little cumbersome when there's a lot of action playing out for whichever drama the kids are in and he pauses the drama to give his two cents. That's purely because it's so intriguing to find out what the heck is going to happen next in this twisted tale.
You will probably be racking your brain trying to figure out where you've heard Patrick's voice before. That's because he voices Joe Swanson over on Family Guy.
Visually, the series is stunning. You can tell there is no expense spared in this TV adaptation. Netflix delivers on its promise to give the fans who were scorned by the movie a series that will serve the source material well.
All things considered, this is an excellent adaptation to the small screen. The writing, acting, directing and production values will surely solidify this as one of Netflix's best series to date.
A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 1 debuts in its entirety January 13, only on Netflix. We will have episodic reviews for you when the show debuts.
Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.