A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV series)
|A Series of Unfortunate Events|
|Based on||A Series of Unfortunate Events
by Lemony Snicket
|Theme music composer||
|Opening theme||"Look Away" by Neil Patrick Harris|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Producer(s)||Neil Patrick Harris|
|Running time||42–64 minutes|
|Original release||January 13, 2017– present|
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, or simply A Series of Unfortunate Events, is an American black comedy-drama television series from Netflix, and developed by Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld, based on the children's novel series of the same name by Lemony Snicket. It stars Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman and Presley Smith.
The first season, which premiered on January 13, 2017, consists of eight episodes and adapts the first four books of the series. The series was renewed for a second season in March 2017, intended to consist of ten episodes that adapt books five through nine of the novel series, and was renewed for a third season a month later, which is expected to adapt the remaining four books.
When a mysterious fire kills their parents, the Baudelaire children are placed into the care of their distant relative Count Olaf, an actor who is determined to claim the family fortune for himself. Following Olaf's failed attempt, the Baudelaires set out to elude Olaf and uncover the mystery behind a secret society from their parents' past.
- Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, an actor determined to claim the Baudelaire fortune for himself. He possesses a spyglass with the structure of an eye similar to his tattoo on his left ankle.
- Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, the narrator tasked with explaining the events during the lives of the Baudelaires.
- Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, the eldest Baudelaire sibling and inventor talented in mechanics.
- Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire, the middle child interested in literature and books.
- K. Todd Freeman as Arthur Poe, the family banker of the Baudelaire parents, who is in charge of placing the Baudelaires in the care of a suitable guardian.
- Presley Smith as Sunny Baudelaire, the infant child of the Baudelaires with unnaturally strong teeth. Tara Strong provides the quasi-nonsensical lines of Sunny.
- Will Arnett as Father, a man who is trying to return home to his three children.
- Cobie Smulders as Mother, a woman who is trying to return home to her three children.
- Usman Ally as the Hook-Handed Man, a member of Count Olaf's theatre troupe.
- Matty Cardarople as the Henchperson Of Indeterminate Gender, another member of Count Olaf's theatre troupe.
- Cleo King as Eleanora Poe, Arthur Poe's wife and the editor-in-chief of The Daily Punctilio.
- John DeSantis as the Bald Man, large bald-headed man who is another member of Count Olaf's theatre troupe.
- Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins as the White-Faced Women, two elderly twins who are members of Count Olaf's theatre troupe.
- Sara Canning as Jacquelyn, Mr. Poe's standoffish assistant and a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society. She possesses a spyglass.
- Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss, a judge and Count Olaf's neighbor who helps the Baudelaires and is hopeful to adopt them.
- Luke Camilleri as Gustav Sebald, a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society and Monty's former assistant.
- Aasif Mandvi as Montgomery "Uncle Monty" Montgomery, a distant relative of the Baudelaires and enthusiastic herpetologist who claims to have spent his childhood with their late parents. He is a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society and possesses a spyglass.
- Patrick Keating as Town Father, an actor in various films displayed within the series.
- Alfre Woodard as Aunt Josephine Anwhistle, a distant relative of the Baudelaires who has many rational and irrational fears and a love of grammar, and is a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society.
- Patrick Breen as Larry, a waiter at the Anxious Clown restaurant who is a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society.
- Rob Labelle as a taxi driver in Lake Lachrymose
- Keith Blackman Dallas as Evander, a truck driver for Lucky Smells Lumbermill
- Don Johnson as Sir, the owner of Lucky Smells Lumbermill.
- Catherine O'Hara as Georgina Orwell, an optometrist and Count Olaf's ex-girlfriend who hypnotizes the Lucky Smells Lumbermill workers so they never leave, also causing them to believe the Baudelaire parents set fire to Paltryville. Catherine O'Hara previously portrayed Justice Strauss in the 2004 film adaptation.
- Rhys Darby as Charles, Sir's partner.
- Dylan Kingwell as Duncan and Quigley Quagmire
- Avi Lake as Isadora Quagmire
- Timothy Webber as Jimmy, a worker at Lucky Smells Lumbermill.
- Chris Gauthier as Phil, an optimistic worker who befriends the Baudelaires during their stay at the Lucky Smells Lumbermill.
- Loretta Walsh as Norma Rae, a worker at Lucky Smells Lumbermill.
- Trent Redekop as Cesar, a worker at Lucky Smells Lumbermill.
Daniel Handler cameos as a fish head salesperson in Lake Lachrymose.
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"The Bad Beginning: Part One"[a]||Barry Sonnenfeld||Daniel Handler||January 13, 2017|
|Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire receive the news that their parents have perished in a house fire. While exploring the ruins, Klaus finds a broken spyglass with an insignia of an eye embedded on the front. Shortly afterwards, they are sent to live with their distant relative Count Olaf, who forces them into servitude. One night, the siblings prepare puttanesca for Olaf's theatre troupe only for him to demand roast beef upon arriving home. The children state that they were never asked to prepare roast beef, angering Olaf and prompting him to slap Klaus across the face when he protests about the sleeping arrangements. Meanwhile, a mother and father are held against their will by a mysterious captor.|
|2||"The Bad Beginning: Part Two"[a]||Barry Sonnenfeld||Daniel Handler||January 13, 2017|
|The Baudelaires attempt to convince family banker Mr. Poe of Olaf's actions only to be sent away when Poe dismisses their claims. When Olaf gives Violet the starring role in his latest theatrical production, which ends with the two main characters being married, the siblings realize that Olaf intends to acquire their fortune by marrying Violet, which is legal. Klaus confronts Olaf, who threatens to kill Sunny if Violet doesn't follow through with his plans. At the very last minute, however, Violet signs the marriage certificate with her left hand, invalidating the proceedings due to the fact that she is right-handed. Mr. Poe's mysterious secretary Jacquelyn reveals they were intended to be put in the care of their distant relative Montgomery. Meanwhile, Jacquelyn's ally Gustav is mysteriously drowned, after being hit by a dart...|
|3||"The Reptile Room: Part One"||Mark Palansky||Daniel Handler||January 13, 2017|
|The Baudelaires are sent to live with their herpetologist uncle Monty Montgomery, who has recently come across a reptile he calls the "Incredibly Deadly Viper". While attempting to learn more about Montgomery, Klaus discovers that the hedge maze in Montgomery's garden is the exact same shape as the tattoo on Olaf's ankle. Olaf poses as Montgomery's new assistant Stephano and attempts to kidnap the Baudelaires, but Monty assures the Baudelaires that he recognizes Stephano as a threat. The four arrive at a movie theatre, where Monty deciphers a code sent for him through the subtitles of the film, using a spyglass identical to Klaus' - the message instructs him to bring the children to Peru. He fires Stephano shortly afterwards, believing him to be a spy sent to steal his research.|
|4||"The Reptile Room: Part Two"||Mark Palansky||Emily Fox||January 13, 2017|
|Immediately after dismissing "Stephano", Montgomery notices that the door to his Reptile Room is ajar and investigates only to be attacked by an unseen figure. The next day, the Baudelaires discover Olaf standing next to Montgomery's corpse. Olaf threatens to kill Sunny unless the siblings accompany him to Peru, but is prevented from carrying out his plan when Mr. Poe arrives at the last minute. Olaf's theatre troupe arrive disguised as police, and claim Monty's death was committed by the Incredibly Deadly Viper, despite Monty's claim of it being 'the most friendly reptile in the entire animal kingdom'. While searching for proof of the snake's innocence, Klaus discovers a statue in Monty's hedgemaze, and a photograph of Monty, both of them carrying spyglasses identical to Klaus'. Violet proves Olaf to be the murderer - however, he escapes via the hedge maze with Klaus' spyglass. While pursuing him, the Baudelaires are encountered by Jacquelyn, who was posing as the statue. She tells them to seek answers on the spyglasses from their Aunt Josephine while she hunts down Olaf via underground passageways.|
|5||"The Wide Window: Part One"||Barry Sonnenfeld||Daniel Handler||January 13, 2017|
|Mr. Poe takes the Baudelaires to live with their Aunt Josephine, an irrationally afraid woman who lives in a dilapidated house overlooking Lake Lachrymose and refuses to speak about their parents. As Josephine doesn't answer their questions on the spyglasses, they pursue answers themselves around her house, and discover their parents were members of a secret organization, with the spyglasses being used as useful devices - they are also shocked to find out that Josephine was once fierce and formidable, but lapsed into fear after the death of her husband. Olaf, who has followed the Baudelaires, disguises himself as a sailor named Captain Sham before pretending to fall in love with Josephine. Despite the siblings' warnings, Josephine accepts his invitation. Later that night, the siblings discover that Josephine has jumped out the library's bay window and left a note informing them that "Captain Sham" is their new guardian.|
|6||"The Wide Window: Part Two"||Barry Sonnenfeld||Daniel Handler||January 13, 2017|
|As Mr. Poe prepares to hand the Baudelaires over to "Captain Sham", the siblings discover the note has several grammatical errors, something Josephine would never do since she was obsessed with proper grammar. Mr. Poe takes the children to a restaurant and prepares to complete the transfer, but allows the siblings to leave after Larry, a waiter secretly a member of their parents' organization, triggers their allergy to peppermint. After returning to the house, the siblings decipher Josephine's suicide note and discover she is still alive moments before a hurricane sends the house teetering over the cliff. Escaping with a photograph of their parents standing in front of a lumber mill, the siblings find Josephine at a nearby cave only to be confronted by Olaf, who abandons Josephine to be eaten alive by the leeches that inhabit Lake Lachrymose. Upon returning to shore, Olaf escapes after being unmasked in front of Mr. Poe while the Baudelaires sneak away and set out to find the lumber mill in the photograph.|
|7||"The Miserable Mill: Part One"||Bo Welch||Joe Tracz||January 13, 2017|
|Upon arriving at the Lucky Smells Lumber Mill, the Baudelaires are forced to work by the owner Sir, who blames their parents for starting a fire that destroyed the entire town. While investigating the workers' unnaturally happy behavior, Klaus' glasses are broken by the Hook-Handed Man posing as Foreman Flacutono and he visits optometrist Georgina Orwell, who puts him into a hypnotic trance. Later that day, the siblings learn that two visitors are waiting to see them. Believing that their parents are still alive, the three are shocked to instead find Orwell and her receptionist "Shirley St. Ives", who is a poorly-disguised Olaf. Meanwhile, the mother and father who were previously held captive are revealed to be the parents of the Quagmire siblings, with whom they are reunited - they have also mysteriously appeared in the photograph of the lumbermill.|
|8||"The Miserable Mill: Part Two"||Bo Welch||Tatiana Suarez-Pico||January 13, 2017|
|When Klaus mishandles one of the mill machines due to his hypnosis, Sir threatens to send the Baudelaires to "Shirley". The three investigate Orwell and 'Shirley' and discover the entire mill is under hypnotic trance to never leave, prompting the Baudelaires to return to the mill and save them. Orwell then orders Klaus to tie Sir's aide Charles to a log and send it through a buzz saw as she watches. At the last minute, Violet frees the mill workers from Orwell's hypnotic spell. Klaus snaps out of his trance, stopping him from harming Charles. The workers storm the mill, causing Orwell to fall into the furnace and die. Sir takes his leave amongst the worker riot while Count Olaf and the Hook-Handed Man get away. Charles reveals the truth about the Baudelaires' role in the town where they actually helped to fight the fire. The three siblings are reunited with Mr. Poe, and Jacquelyn sends Klaus the broken spyglass that Olaf stole from him. Poe sends the three siblings to boarding school which two of the three Quagmire siblings are also sent to. The Quagmires' parents are revealed to be members of the organization. The final scene shows the Baudelaires, Lemony Snicket, Count Olaf, and Mr. Poe singing the song "That's Not How the Story Goes."|
The thirteen A Series of Unfortunate Events novels, written by Daniel Handler under the pen name Lemony Snicket from 1999 to 2006, achieved success in young adult fiction around the same time as the Harry Potter novels. As such, the Snicket books had been optioned to be filmed before they were published. This led to the development of a 2004 feature film, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, which covered the narratives of the first three novels in the series. Barry Sonnenfeld, who has expressed his love for the series, was originally slated to direct the feature film, and had hired Handler to write the screenplay. About 10 months into production, shortly after the casting of Jim Carrey as Olaf, there was a "big crisis", according to Handler, which caused producer Scott Rudin to walk away and Sonnenfeld left the production under unclear terms. With the film's completion in flux, its producing studios Paramount Pictures and DreamWorks fired Handler. While the film was eventually completed and released, sequels which would adapt the other novels in the series became unlikely due to "corporate shakeups" within DreamWorks, according to Handler, and the child actors that portrayed the Baudelaire children grew too old to star in a sequel.
In November 2014, Netflix, in association with Paramount Television, announced its plans to adapt the novels into an original television series, with the author of the series, Daniel Handler, serving as executive producer.
In September 2015, it was announced that Barry Sonnenfeld and Mark Hudis had agreed to helm the series. Hudis would serve as showrunner, Sonnenfeld as director, and both as executive producers, with Handler writing some of the scripts along with working with the series' writing team. However, in January 2016, Netflix announced that Hudis had left the project, with a replacement showrunner not named at the time.
The first season consists of eight episodes, with two episodes adapting each of the first four books of the series. Handler considered this more in line with how he had written the books in the manner of a serialized melodrama, citing The Perils of Pauline as one of his influences in writing the book series. In January 2017, Handler revealed that he was writing the series' second season, to consist of ten episodes adapting the fifth through ninth books of the series. A third season would adapt the remaining novels of the series, which Handler hoped "to get the go-ahead to do" since "given how quickly young actors age and change, we're trying to film everything as quickly as possible." In March 2017, Netflix revealed the series had been renewed for a second season by releasing a video on their social media pointing to a viral marketing website, where a letter written by Snicket revealed the decision. A month later, the series was "quietly" renewed for a third season.
On December 3, 2015, an open casting call was announced for the roles of Violet and Klaus Baudelaire. In January 2016, Netflix announced that Neil Patrick Harris had been cast as Count Olaf and Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes were cast as Violet and Klaus. Handler had first considered Harris for the role of Olaf after seeing him perform the opening number "It's Not Just for Gays Anymore", at the 65th Tony Awards in 2011, noting "I just immediately saw someone who could pull off a million things at once" as was necessary for the character of Olaf, who utilizes various disguises and accents in his quest to steal the Baudelaire fortune.
In March 2016, K. Todd Freeman was cast as Mr. Poe, followed shortly after by the casting of Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket, and Aasif Mandvi as Uncle Monty. In September 2016, it was revealed that Dylan Kingwell and Avi Lake were cast as the Quagmire siblings, Duncan and Isadora, respectively. In November 2016, Handler revealed Catherine O'Hara, Don Johnson, and Alfre Woodard had been cast as Dr. Georgina Orwell, Sir, and Aunt Josephine, respectively; O'Hara had previously portrayed Justice Strauss in the 2004 film adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events. It was also revealed that Presley Smith would play Sunny Baudelaire, whose quasi-nonsensical lines are voiced by Tara Strong, and Rhys Darby would play Charles, Sir's partner.
One aspect of the series of books that the production team wanted to be captured in the series was the notion of a lack of specific time period or geography for the settings; Handler stated that he wrote enough for establishing set pieces, but purposely left more specific details vague "in order for young readers to fill in the blanks themselves". Sonnenfeld wanted to capture that same sense of ambiguous time and place, and he and his team worked to try to define a set of subjective rules of what elements could be included. Sonnenfeld brought on Bo Welch, production designer for Edward Scissorhands, which Handler considered to capture the same sense of a "familiar but completely imaginary" suburban setting he had in mind for his books. While the production team used computer-generated imagery where needed, they attempted to avoid this use where possible, such as by using large painted backdrops, by key scenic artist John E. Wilcox, rather than employing green screen filming.
In April 2016, Nick Urata was initially reported to be composing music for the series. Once the series was released, it was revealed that Urata collaborated with Daniel Handler to compose the main title theme, as well as various original songs that appear throughout the series, with Handler contributing the lyrics. The original score was composed by James Newton Howard, with his frequent collaborators Sven Faulconer and Chris Bacon filling in to score certain episodes.
On July 5, 2015 a video titled "An Unfortunate Teaser" was uploaded to YouTube by a user named "Eleanora Poe". Netflix quickly released a statement saying "This was not released from Netflix." Media outlets were almost unanimous in agreement that the trailer was fan-made. However, Caitlin Petrakovitz of CNET argued that the trailer may be real and that Netflix's carefully worded denial was a marketing campaign, noting the user name "Eleanora Poe" being the same as a character from the series, and that a vinyl record seen in the trailer was of The Gothic Archies, a band who provided the theme music for the audio books of A Series of Unfortunate Events. The trailer was later revealed to be a spec promo, similar to a spec script, by an independent commercial director, whom Netflix contracted to make a title sequence for the series after the video's popularity, though they did not go ahead with the concept.
In October 2016, Netflix released the first teaser trailer for A Series of Unfortunate Events, where Warburton narrates the events of the series as Lemony Snicket. A trailer, featuring footage from the series and Neil Patrick Harris's character, Count Olaf, was released by Netflix in November 2016, followed shortly by the first full trailer. The second trailer was released in December 2016, followed by a "holiday-themed" trailer from Count Olaf leading fans to a viral marketing website for the fictional Valorous Farms Dairy, which featured four holiday e-cards for download.
As Netflix does not reveal subscriber viewership numbers for any of their original series, Symphony Technology Group compiled data for the first season based on people using software on their devices that measure television viewing by detecting a program's sound. According to Symphony, 3.755 million viewers age 18-49 were watching an episode of A Series of Unfortunate Events over the average minute in its first weekend of release.
The first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events received critical acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the season an approval rating of 94% based on 50 reviews, with an average rating of 8.16/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Enjoyably dark, A Series of Unfortunate Events matches the source material's narrative as well as its tone, leaving viewers with a wonderfully weird, dry, gothic comedy." On Metacritic the season has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".
Erik Adams of The A.V. Club awarded the season a B and praised it for treating "mature themes like grief, loss, and disappointment with sardonic honesty." Adams compared the program positively to the Adam West Batman series, calling it "kids stuff with adult sophistication, driven by two-part stories, outrageous visuals, and the scenery-chewing of big-name guest stars". Ben Travers of Indiewire gave the series an A-, saying that it "proves as inspirational and endearing as it claims to be forlorn and heartbreaking". Brian Lowry of CNN praised the showrunners for "infusing the show with a lemony-fresh feel, conjuring a series similar to the fantastical tone of Pushing Daisies. Lowry wrote that "the show proves a good deal of fun" and that "Harris dives into his over-the-top character with considerable gusto". He also argued that the series improved upon the 2004 film.
Several critics praised the television series as a better adaptation of the books than the 2004 feature film, which starred Jim Carrey as Count Olaf. Kelly Lawler of USA Today felt the television format gave the stories more room to develop, the addition of Warburton as the fourth wall-breaking Snicket helped to convey some of the wordplay humor used in the books, and Harris' portrayal of Olaf was "much more dynamic, and creepier" than Carrey's version. The Verge's Chaim Gartenburg said that the show follows the books much more faithfully than the film, and "nails down the tone that made the stories so special". Los Angeles Times writer Robert Lloyd felt that the backgrounds of Sonnenfeld and Welch made them "the right people for this job, set in a milieu that is hard to fix in time, except to say it is not now", in capturing the tones of the book compared to the feature film.
Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com, on the other hand, gave the series a negative review, calling it "an unfunny parody of sadness" that is "never as clever as it wants to be" and would only appeal to fans of the books. Caroline Framke of Vox Media praised the series for its unique and weird visuals, but found the show's tone, pacing and performances to be haphazard and considered the show to be "literally, a series of unfortunate events".
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