The first line of Lemony Snicket’s international bestselling children’s tale cautions, “If you are interested in stories with happy endings, you would be better off reading some other book.” However, January, with all of its cold and bluster, seems like the perfect month to dwell on Unfortunate things while on the couch under a warm fuzzy blanket sipping hot chocolate.

And Netflix is all to happy to oblige.

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Instead of another Jim Carrey flick, the next chapter in the A Series of Unfortunate Events saga is a Netflix series starring none other than the multi-talented Neil Patrick Harris as the infamous super-villain, Count Olaf. Beginning January 13, 2017, the unfortunate and entertaining woes of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire need no longer confine themselves to the limited scope of 107 minutes.

The series is a series now.

Prepared another adaptation rife with misfortune, misery, and despair? Let’s find out:

What They Will Do:

The producers of the Netflix adaptation are going to pull a Count Olaf and cash in on the fame and talents of Neil Patrick Harris.

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The actor has quite a following from his previous endeavors, (How I Met Your Mother, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, Gone Girl), and there is no way the new series is not going to take advantage of that. After all, the vile Count Olaf, as the antagonist is the real mover and shaker in the books. Without someone to fight, the Baudelaire children are just goody-two-shoes who are too boring for television.

Considering their casting choice, expect some references to Neil Patrick Harris’s other work designed to catch viewers who haven’t previously read Snicket’s tale of woe.

What They Won’t Do:

Make a line-for-line copy of the 2004 film.

The 2004 adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events took the traditional route in order to timelessly adapt Lemony Snicket’s first three books into classic movie form. This grossed the creators a comfortable $209 million without adding too much “dreadful nonsense.” To emphasize the timeless element of the story, the costuming was done in some sort of Steampunk that encouraged viewers to focus on the story instead of the timeline.

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Granted, they did choose to make the actors look rather similar…

But the creative minds behind the Netflix adaptation will have to work harder than that to keep viewers engaged and differentiate from the earlier movie. Sure, for the first part of the series the plot will need to be similar, but the Netflix series has the opportunity to delve much deeper into stories and carry on far beyond the where we last saw the Baudelaire siblings.

 

What They Should Do:

They should make the role of Lemony Snicket more prominent.

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Jude Law did a fine job providing us with the profile of the mysterious Lemony Snicket way back in ’04. But the author/character in/of the Unfortunate book series forms a bond with the reader as you move through the 13 books. Snicket warns you of the sadness ahead, encourages you to sympathize with plight of the Baudelaire siblings, and infuriates you by interrupting the story with bits and pieces of his social calendar! (Gah! Still mad about that one.)

He’s a narrator that cannot be ignored.

So, the new series should embrace the broken episode format and put Lemony Snicket himself front and center. Maybe the series could even dip into all of those mysterious messages to Beatrice in the epigraphs.

 

What They Should UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES DO:

Allow humor to ruin the unfortunate misery.

A Series of Unfortunate Events must walk a fine, fine line between absolute misery and over-the-top hilarity. That’s a taller order than interpreting Sunny’s garbled baby talk. And this new series, judging from the trailer, appears to be separating itself from the movie by erring on the side of over-the-top hilarity.

Yet even hilarity has its limits. By inserting lines such as, “I bought it online,” the new series snatches a laugh at the expense of looking dated in a decade or so. But, depending on how many laughs the show generates at the start, the laughs might be worth future scorn.

Ultimately, conflict drives the story of the Baudelaire children and without the Unfortunate Events A Series of Unfortunate Events is just another series.

 

Wish List Item:

That sentence in “The Reptile Room” about never ever, ever, (insert enough ever’s to cover two pages of text) fiddling with electronic devices because you are not Violet Baudelaire. Don’t know how to properly translate that to screen, but it’s a cool moment.

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Chances of this happening: I’d give it 3 fortunate events out of 100 unfortunate ones!


A Series of Unfortunate Events surfaces on Netflix on January 13, 2017. All media was obtained from Netflix.