A Series of Unfortunate Events (TV Series)
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A Series of Unfortunate Events TV Series

A Series of Unfortunate Events
A Series of Unfortunate Events TV titlecard.jpg
Genre
Based on A Series of Unfortunate Events
by Lemony Snicket
Developed by
Starring
Theme music composer
  • Nick Urata
  • Daniel Handler
Opening theme "Look Away"
by Neil Patrick Harris
Composer(s)
Country of origin United States
Original English
No. of seasons 2
No. of episodes 18
Production
Executive
Neil Patrick Harris
Production location(s) Vancouver, British Columbia
Cinematography Bernard Couture
Editor(s)
  • Stuart Bass
  • Skip MacDonald
Running time 40-64 minutes
Production
Distributor Netflix
Release
Original network Netflix
Picture format
Original release January 13, 2017 (2017-01-13) - present (present)

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, or simply A Series of Unfortunate Events, is an American black comedy-drama[3] web television series from Netflix, developed by Mark Hudis and Barry Sonnenfeld,[2] based on Lemony Snicket's children's novel series of the same name. It stars Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, and Presley Smith with Lucy Punch, Avi Lake, and Dylan Kingwell joining the cast in the second season.

The first season, which premiered on January 13, 2017, consists of eight episodes and adapts the first four books of the series. The second season was ordered in March 2017 and released on March 30, 2018. A Series of Unfortunate Events was renewed for a third season in April 2017, which will consist of seven episodes and adapt the remaining four books.

Premise

When a mysterious fire kills their parents, the Baudelaire children are informed of this terrible news by their executor Arthur Poe and 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 and his plot being exposed, the Baudelaires set out to elude Olaf and his followers while uncovering the mystery behind a secret society from their parents' past as they are placed in the custody of different guardians.

Cast and characters

Main

  • Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf,[4] an actor determined to claim the Baudelaire fortune for himself. He has one eyebrow and a tattoo resembling an eye on his left ankle, which is frequently used to identify him when he is disguised.
  • Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket,[5] the narrator tasked with explaining the events during the lives of the Baudelaires.
  • Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire,[6] the eldest Baudelaire sibling and an inventor talented in mechanics.
  • Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire,[6] the middle Baudelaire child, interested in literature and books.
  • K. Todd Freeman as Arthur Poe,[7] the family banker at Mulctuary Money Management and executor of the Baudelaire parents who is in charge of placing the Baudelaires in the care of a suitable guardian.
  • Presley Smith as Sunny Baudelaire,[8] the infant child of the Baudelaires with unnaturally strong teeth. Tara Strong provides Sunny's babbling sound effects, the meaning of which is often translated in subtitles.[9]
  • Lucy Punch as Esmé Squalor, a wealthy financial advisor, who becomes an ally and love interest for Count Olaf.[10]
  • Avi Lake as Isadora Quagmire,[11] Duncan and Quigley's sister who loves writing poetry.
  • Dylan Kingwell as Duncan Quagmire, Isadora's brother. Duncan is a keen journalist.[11]

Recurring

  • Will Arnett as Father,[12][13] a man who is trying to return home to his three children.
  • Cobie Smulders as Mother,[13] a woman who is trying to return home to her three children.
  • Usman Ally as the Hook-Handed Man,[14] a member of Count Olaf's theatre troupe with hooks instead of hands.
  • Matty Cardarople as the Henchperson of Indeterminate Gender,[14] a member of Count Olaf's theatre troupe who doesn't have a specific gender.
  • Cleo King as Eleanora Poe, Arthur Poe's wife and the editor-in-chief of The Daily Punctilio who loves pursuing sensationalist headlines.
  • John DeSantis as the Bald Man,[15] a tall bald-headed man who is another member of Count Olaf's theatre troupe.
  • Jacqueline and Joyce Robbins as the White-Faced Women,[14] 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.
  • Patrick Breen as Larry Your-Waiter, a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society who is seen working as a waiter at various establishments the Baudelaires visit including the Anxious Clown, Prufrock Preparatory's cafeteria, and Café Salmonella.
  • Sara Rue as Olivia Caliban, a librarian at Prufrock Preparatory School who later enlists as a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society when she becomes invested in the Baudelaires' plight and even becomes the latest Madame Lulu.[10][16][17]
  • Nathan Fillion as Jacques Snicket, the dashing adventurer brother of Lemony Snicket who enlists Olivia Caliban to help the Baudelaires.[10]

Guest

Introduced in season 1

  • Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss,[18] a judge and Count Olaf's neighbor who helps the Baudelaires and is hopeful to adopt them.
  • Luke Camilleri as Gustav Sebald,[14] a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society and Monty's former assistant who made some films that had certain codes in it.
  • Aasif Mandvi as Montgomery "Uncle Monty" Montgomery,[19] 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.
  • Matthew Walker as the Ticket Seller, an unnamed Ticket Seller at Tedia's movie theater who is a friend of Montgomery and a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society. Mark Kandborg portrays him in a flashback seen in "The Carnivorous Carnival" Pt. 1.
  • Alfre Woodard as Aunt Josephine Anwhistle,[20] a distant relative of the Baudelaires at Lake Lachrymose who has many rational and irrational fears since the loss of her husband Ike and a love of grammar. She is a member of the Baudelaire family's secret society.
  • Don Johnson as Sir,[21] the cigar-smoking owner of Lucky Smells Lumbermill.
  • Catherine O'Hara as Georgina Orwell,[22] 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. O'Hara previously portrayed Justice Strauss in the 2004 film adaptation.
  • Rhys Darby as Charles,[12] Sir's partner who is friendly towards the Baudelaires.
  • 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 at Lake Lachrymose. Barry Sonnenfeld does a picture cameo as the late Ike Anwhistle in "The Wide Window" and appears as him in a flashback scene in "The Carnivorous Carnival" Pt. 1.[]

Introduced in season 2

  • Barry Sonnenfeld as the voice of Mr. Tammerlane, a person that Arthur Poe talks to on the phone.
  • Roger Bart as Nero Feint, the violin-playing vice-principal of Prufrock Preparatory School and struggling musician with an egotistic personality, a talent for mimicking what someone says in a high voice, and a love for excessive punishments.[10]
  • Kitana Turnbull as Carmelita Spats, an obnoxious, tutu-wearing student at Prufrock Preparatory School.[23]
  • Bronwen Smith as Miss Tench, Prufrock Preparatory School's gym teacher who is replaced in the post by a disguised Count Olaf while on her way back to Prufrock Preparatory School with the pep squad and the sports team.[17]
  • Malcolm Stewart as Mr. Remora, a teacher at Prufrock Preparatory School who specializes in teaching his personal anecdotes and is always seen eating a banana.[17]
  • BJ Harrison as Mrs. Bass, a teacher at Prufrock Preparatory School who specializes in measuring objects. She later becomes a bank robber.[17]
  • Tony Hale as Jerome Squalor, the timid husband of Esmé Squalor.[10]
  • Sage Brocklebank as Doorman, an unnamed doorman who works at 667 Dark Avenue.
  • Ithamar Enriquez as Hector, a skittish handyman and citizen of the Village of Fowl Devotees who befriends the Baudelaires.[16]
  • Mindy Sterling as Elder Anabelle, a member of the Village of Fowl Devotees' Council of Elders who often quotes "silence" when a non-police officer and/or a non-banker consultant attempts to violate the "No one may talk while on the platform" rule.[17]
  • Carol Mansell as Elder Jemma, a soft-spoken member of the Village of Fowl Devotees' Council of Elders.[17]
  • Ken Jenkins as Elder Sam, a gruff-speaking member of the Village of Fowl Devotees' Council of Elders.[17]
  • Lossen Chambers as Mrs. Morrow, an inhabitant of the Village of Fowl Devotees that wears a pink robe.
  • Kevin Chamberlin as Mr. Lesko, an inhabitant of the Village of Fowl Devotees that wears plaid pants.
  • Serge Houde as Milt, the shopkeeper of the Last Chance General Store in the Hinterlands.
  • Gabe Khouth as Lou, the newspaper delivery boy who brings the Daily Punctilio's newspapers to the Last Chance General Store.
  • John Bobek as the bearded leader of the Volunteers Fighting Disease.[17]
  • Lauren McGibbon as the perky member of the Volunteers Fighting Disease.
  • Kerri Kenney-Silver as Babs, the Head of Human Resources and Hospital Administration at Heimlich Hospital.[17]
  • David Alan Grier as Hal, a visually-disabled file clerk who is employed in the Library of Records at Heimlich Hospital.[24]
  • Robbie Amell as Kevin, an ambidextrous "freak" who works at Caligari Carnival.[25]
  • Kevin Cahoon as Hugo, a hunchbacked "freak" who works at Caligari Carnival.[17]
  • Bonnie Morgan as Colette, a contortionist "freak" who works at Caligari Carnival.[17]
  • David Burtka as Mr. Willums, a heckler with a pimpled chin who attends Caligari Carnival. He is based on The Man With Pimples On His Chin from "The Carnivorous Carnival" book.[26]
  • Jill Morrison as Mrs. Willums, the wife of Mr. Willums.
  • Harper and Gideon Burtka-Harris as Trixie and Skip Willums, the children of Mr. Willums.[27]
  • Allison Williams as an as-yet-unidentified woman who arrives to see the Caligari Carnival engulfed in flames.[28]

Episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally released
18January 13, 2017 (2017-01-13)
210March 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)

Season 1 (2017)

The first season adapts the first four books of the novel series: The Bad Beginning, The Reptile Room, The Wide Window and The Miserable Mill.[29]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
11"The Bad Beginning: Part One"[a]Barry SonnenfeldDaniel HandlerJanuary 13, 2017 (2017-01-13)
Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire receive the news that their parents have perished in a house fire from well-meaning but inept banker Arthur Poe. 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, a cruel and vain amateur actor, 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.
22"The Bad Beginning: Part Two"[a]Barry SonnenfeldDaniel HandlerJanuary 13, 2017 (2017-01-13)
The Baudelaires attempt to convince 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 for real. 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 Montgomery. Meanwhile, Jacquelyn's ally Gustav is mysteriously drowned, after being hit by a poisoned dart.
33"The Reptile Room: Part One"Mark PalanskyDaniel HandlerJanuary 13, 2017 (2017-01-13)
The Baudelaires are sent to live with their herpetologist uncle Montgomery 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 exactly the 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.
44"The Reptile Room: Part Two"Mark PalanskyEmily FoxJanuary 13, 2017 (2017-01-13)
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 accidentally crashes into their car when they are trying to leave. Olaf's theatre troupe then arrives disguised as police and nurses, and claim Monty was killed by the Incredibly Deadly Viper, despite Monty's claim of it being completely harmless. While searching for proof of the snake's innocence, Klaus discovers a statue in Monty's hedge maze, 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 meet Jacquelyn, who is posing as a statue. She tells them to seek answers on the spyglasses from their Aunt Josephine while she hunts down Olaf via underground passageways.
55"The Wide Window: Part One"Barry SonnenfeldDaniel HandlerJanuary 13, 2017 (2017-01-13)
Mr. Poe takes the Baudelaires to live with their Aunt Josephine, an irrationally frightened woman who lives in a dilapidated house overlooking Lake Lachrymose. She refuses to answer questions about their parents, so the siblings pursue answers themselves around her house, and discover their parents were members of a secret organization, with spyglasses being used as useful devices. They are also shocked to find out that Josephine was once fierce and formidable, and developed her phobias 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 to take her out for a fried egg sandwich. 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.
66"The Wide Window: Part Two"Barry SonnenfeldDaniel HandlerJanuary 13, 2017 (2017-01-13)
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.
77"The Miserable Mill: Part One"Bo WelchJoe TraczJanuary 13, 2017 (2017-01-13)
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 local 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 triplets, with whom they are reunited.
88"The Miserable Mill: Part Two"Bo WelchTatiana Suarez-PicoJanuary 13, 2017 (2017-01-13)
The Baudelaires discover the entire mill is under a hypnotic trance, ensuring they do not leave their jobs. Orwell and Olaf use a still-hypnotized Klaus to murder Sir's aide Charles, but Violet figures out how to break everyone's trance in the nick of time. The workers then storm the mill, causing Orwell to fall into the furnace and die. Sir escapes in the chaos 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 then sends the three siblings to a dreary boarding school, which two of the three Quagmire siblings are also sent to, due to their house being burnt down by an unknown woman. The Quagmires' parents are revealed to be members of the organization. In the final scene, Lemony Snicket, Count Olaf, the Baudelaires and Mr. Poe sing the song "That's Not How the Story Goes."

Season 2 (2018)

The second season adapts books five through nine of the novel series: The Austere Academy, The Ersatz Elevator, The Vile Village, The Hostile Hospital, and The Carnivorous Carnival.[32]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title [b]Directed byWritten byOriginal release date
91"The Austere Academy: Part 1"Barry SonnenfeldDaniel HandlerMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
The Baudelaires are introduced to life at Prufrock Preparatory School, an unpleasant institution run by an unpleasant vice-principal named Nero and terrorized by an equally unpleasant student named Carmelita Spats. The school's only redeeming qualities are its friendly librarian Olivia Caliban and the surviving Quagmire triplets Duncan and Isadora. During a lunch break, Klaus and Isadora discover that they are holding two halves of the same spyglass. The newfound friends quickly realize that they must track down a book on secret organizations to find the answers they seek--a book Jacquelyn sent Larry to give them, but which he carelessly misplaced. Meanwhile, Count Olaf and his troupe lurk around the grounds of the school, unable to enter the front doors due to an advanced computer system programmed by Nero to detect Olaf's presence. However, with Carmelita's help, Olaf finally gains entry and locks Larry in the cafeteria's walk-in refrigerator. He then dons his latest disguise: the school's new turban-wearing gym teacher named Coach Genghis.
102"The Austere Academy: Part 2"Barry SonnenfeldJoe TraczMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
Olaf is able to convince Nero to put the Baudelaires under a grueling exercise program, making the siblings run endless laps at night to prevent them from scheming against him, while also causing them to perform poorly in class from lack of sleep. Due to their slumping grades, Nero threatens to expel the Baudelaires if they fail a comprehensive exam to be given in front of the entire school, but because they must still exercise under Olaf's program, they know they will likely fail. The Quagmires offer to help, and that night take their place during exercises; however, their identity is discovered, and while hiding in the library, they find the copy of the book on secret organizations and read up on the purpose of the spyglass before they are caught by the Hook-Handed Man. The next day, with Mr. Poe in attendance, the Baudelaires readily pass the exam, and through it reveal Olaf's identity. Olaf and his gang then escape with the Quagmires, who try to shout the initials "V.F.D." from the backseat of Olaf's car. Meanwhile, Larry is rescued from the refrigerator with the help of Lemony's brother, Jacques, while Olivia walks off with the book on secret organizations that the Quagmires left behind.
113"The Ersatz Elevator: Part 1"Bo WelchDaniel HandlerMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
While a citywide manhunt for Count Olaf is underway, Mr. Poe takes the Baudelaires to the penthouse of Jerome Squalor and his trendy financial advisor wife Esmé. While being introduced to the Squalors, they find Olaf has already arrived, posing as a foreign auctioneer named Gunther. The Baudelaires theorize that Olaf is trying to kill Jerome so that he can marry Esmé and become their legal guardian again. They search the penthouse for the Quagmires to no avail, but Klaus becomes suspicious of an extra elevator that only seems to serve the penthouse. Meanwhile, Olivia tries to convince Mr. Poe about Olaf's scheme, which leads Jacquelyn to contact Jacques, who enlists her into their society. Esmé suggests they go out for lunch at a fashionable salmon-themed restaurant Cafe Salmonella, where Larry works to prolong their visit, giving Jacques and Olivia time to search the Squalor's building for the Quagmires. When the Baudelaires manage to sneak away and examine the second elevator, they learn that it is merely an empty shaft. With a makeshift parachute, they descend it to find the Quagmires locked in a cage at its bottom.
124"The Ersatz Elevator: Part 2"Bo WelchDaniel HandlerMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
The Baudelaires do not have the tools to free the Quagmires, so they ascend the shaft by turning the parachute into a hot-air balloon. They try to warn Esmé of Olaf's scheme, but learn too late that she is in cahoots with him and that they are planning to smuggle the Quagmires out of the city. Esmé pushes them down the elevator shaft, where they are caught in a net midway down. Sunny helps them to escape safely, and afterwards they find a secret passage that leads to the ashen ruins of their home. At the auction in Veblen Hall, the Baudelaires start a bidding war on a box labeled "V.F.D.", which they believe contains the Quagmires. Though they win the item, they find the box contains only doilies. In the aftermath, Olaf and his troupe escape with the Quagmires, who are hidden inside a red herring statue. The Baudelaires ask Jerome to help track down Olaf, but he is far too timid to do so, and gives up his guardianship of them. Mr. Poe tells the children that a village with the initials "V.F.D." is willing to raise them.
135"The Vile Village: Part 1"Barry SonnenfeldSigrid GilmerMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
Mr. Poe drops the Baudelaires off at the Village of Fowl Devotees, where the whole community will care for them collectively. The Baudelaires take up residence with Hector, a kindly handyman prone to fainting spells who is secretly building a self-sustaining hot-air mobile home. The Baudelaires soon begin finding clues written by the Quagmires themselves. Olaf, Esmé, and the troupe also arrive at the village, with Esmé disguising herself as the town's new chief of police. Jacques and Olivia also arrive and detain Olaf at the local jailhouse; the next day, the villagers learn of Olaf's capture and hold a town hall meeting, where Olaf appears in the disguise of Detective Dupin, tricking everyone into believing Jacques is Olaf. Jacques is sentenced to death, but Olivia convinces Esmé to free her and Jacques in exchange for the location of the Sugar Bowl, an object with ties to Esmé's past. Jacques stays behind to confront Olaf; however, the villain is unfazed by Jacques' offer of a truce, and he and Esmé incapacitate and kill him. The next morning, as the Baudelaires try to break into the jail to rescue Jacques, they are informed that "Olaf" has been murdered.
146"The Vile Village: Part 2"Barry SonnenfeldSigrid GilmerMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
The disguised Olaf and Esmé quickly convince Mr. Poe and the town that the Baudelaires murdered Jacques/"Olaf," and they are promptly condemned to be burned at the stake. While in jail, the children instruct Hector to prepare his hot-air mobile home to help them escape. While Violet creates a battering ram to weaken the jail wall, Klaus deduces from their clues that the Quagmires are hidden inside a crow fountain in the village square. Larry and Jacquelyn arrive on the scene to distract the villagers long enough for the children to escape via a fire truck and follow Hector. The Baudelaires cover for the Quagmires as they use the truck's ladder to climb aboard the mobile home. As they do so, Olaf, Esmé, and the villagers arrive, and Esmé begins damaging Hector's home with a harpoon gun. Realizing their danger, the Baudelaires tell Hector to escape with the Quagmires. In thanks, the Quagmires try to throw their friends their notes about the secrets of V.F.D., but Esmé shoots them with a harpoon, scattering the pages and harming a crow. While the villagers accost the disguised villains over the injured bird, the Baudelaires collect as many of the ruined pages as they can and make their escape.
157"The Hostile Hospital: Part 1"Allan ArkushJoshua ConkelMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
The Baudelaires hitch a ride with volunteer singing candy stripers heading to Heimlich Hospital. They learn that there is a Library of Records that collects and stores esoterica. After sneaking past the hospital's administrator Babs, they meet Hal, the man who runs the library. He welcomes their help, but forbids them to read material in storage. While Hal shows them the ropes, a film reel labeled "Snicket" arrives and catches the children's attention. Meanwhile, believing the Sugar Bowl to be in the hospital, Olaf and his troupe infiltrate the building. Desperate for answers, the children are forced to steal Hal's keys to access the library, where they find the film. It contains a debriefing of Jacques by a V.F.D. volunteer, with Jacques informing the interviewer that someone has survived a fire, which may or may not be the one that killed the Baudelaire's parents. However, before they can watch any further, they are interrupted by Esmé; as they try to escape, the library is ruined. Violet is captured by Olaf while Klaus and Sunny hide in a chute, in possession of the film.
168"The Hostile Hospital: Part 2"Allan ArkushJoshua ConkelMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
Olaf and Esmé hide Violet under a false name; to find her, Klaus disguises himself as "Dr. Faustus," with Sunny hidden in a sling underneath his coat. They eventually deduce which room Violet is in, but this is a trap laid by Olaf, who forces Klaus to operate on Violet inside an operating theater. Esmé promises to call off the scheme if Klaus can give her what he stole from the Library of Records, and he does so--only, it's not the Sugar Bowl that she has been searching for. Olaf, however, is interested in the Snicket film, and dashes off to watch it to learn its secret. Furious at its revelations, he burns the film, which also starts a fire in the hospital. The Baudelaires successfully evacuate the hospital and realize that their only chance to escape safely is in the trunk of Olaf's car. Hal is left depressed over the loss of the Library of Records. Elsewhere, an unknown person recovers the Sugar Bowl from the burning hospital.
179"Carnivorous Carnival: Part 1"[c]Loni PeristereJoe TraczMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
A flashback to a masked ball at the V.F.D. headquarters shows Lemony trying to warn Beatrice about Olaf. In the present, Olaf and his troupe arrive at the Caligari Carnival to speak with its fortune-teller, Madame Lulu, about the fire's survivor. Lulu, who is really Olivia in disguise, tells them to wait for the answer in the morning. The Baudelaires overhear this, and hoping to speak to Lulu as well, assume the identities of circus freaks, with Violet and Klaus as a two-headed person and Sunny as a wolf child. After calling V.F.D., Olivia is able to tell Olaf the next day that one of the Baudelaire parents did indeed survive the fire. Olaf then presents a freak show that proves disastrous, so he sets off to find a pack of roaming lions to help attract a larger crowd. This gives an opportunity for the children to sneak into Lulu's tent, where they discover films, books, and disguises belonging to the Volunteer Fire Department--the secret organization their parents and guardians belonged to. Olivia then appears and reveals her true identity to them.
1810"Carnivorous Carnival: Part 2"[c]Loni PeristereJoe TraczMarch 30, 2018 (2018-03-30)
Olivia explains to the Baudelaires that "Madame Lulu" is an alias used by V.F.D. agents to gather information. While Olivia admits she had to lie to Olaf about one of the children's parents surviving the fire, Jacques had asserted that there was a survivor, and they should head to the V.F.D. headquarters in the Mortmain Mountains to find them. Meanwhile, Olaf plans to throw one of the freaks into a pit filled with the hungry lions he has corralled, while Esmé connives to have Lulu killed. The next day, Olaf selects Violet and Klaus for the pit. When Olivia is told to push the children to the lions, she instead pushes them to safety, and is sent tumbling into the pit by Olaf for her troubles. As the children try to collect the V.F.D. materials from Lulu's tent, Olaf arrives and forces them to burn the tent down. Then, after placing Violet and Klaus in a towed caravan and taking Sunny in his car, Olaf has the other freaks cut the towing rope on a steep mountain path. At the same time, the last operative to pose as Madame Lulu arrives at the burning carnival as Lemony Snicket claims that she is someone he knows.

Season 3

The third season will adapt the final four books of the novel series[32] in seven episodes: The Slippery Slope, The Grim Grotto and The Penultimate Peril will be adapted into two episodes each, and The End will conclude the series with a longer single episode.[35]Barry Sonnenfeld will direct the episodes for The Penultimate Peril.[35]Liza Johnson and Jonathan Teplitzky will also direct episodes in the season.[36][37][38]

Production

Development

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.[39] 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.[40] 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.[39] 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.[40]

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.[41]

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,[42] with Handler writing some of the scripts along with working with the series' writing team.[32] However, in January 2016, Netflix announced that Hudis had left the project, with a replacement showrunner not named at the time.[4]

The first season consists of eight episodes,[5] with two episodes adapting each of the first four books of the series.[29] 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.[43] 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."[32] 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.[44] A month later, the series was "quietly" renewed for a third season,[45] which Harris confirmed would be the final one for the series.[46]

Casting

Neil Patrick Harris portrays Count Olaf in the series and serves as a producer.[4]

On December 3, 2015, an open casting call was announced for the roles of Violet and Klaus Baudelaire.[47] 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.[4][6] 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.[48]

In March 2016, K. Todd Freeman was cast as Mr. Poe,[7] followed shortly after by the casting of Patrick Warburton as Lemony Snicket,[5] and Aasif Mandvi as Uncle Monty.[19] In September 2016, it was revealed that Dylan Kingwell and Avi Lake were cast as the Quagmire siblings, Duncan and Isadora, respectively.[11] In November 2016, Handler revealed Catherine O'Hara, Don Johnson, and Alfre Woodard had been cast as Dr. Georgina Orwell,[22] Sir,[21] and Aunt Josephine, respectively;[20] O'Hara had previously portrayed Justice Strauss in the 2004 film adaptation of A Series of Unfortunate Events.[22] It was also revealed that Presley Smith would play Sunny Baudelaire,[8] whose quasi-nonsensical lines are voiced by Tara Strong,[9] and Rhys Darby would play Charles, Sir's partner.[12]

Filming

Production began in May 2016 in Vancouver, British Columbia,[49][50] and in August 2016 several cast members expressed through social media that filming had finished.[51] Filming for the second season began in April 2017.[52] The third season began filming on January 5, 2018.[53]

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.[43]

Music

In April 2016, Nick Urata was initially reported to be composing music for the series.[54] Once the first season was released, it was revealed that Urata collaborated with Daniel Handler to compose the main title theme, "Look Away", as well as various original songs that appear throughout the series, with Handler contributing the lyrics. The first season's original score was composed by James Newton Howard, with his frequent collaborators Sven Faulconer and Chris Bacon filling in to score certain episodes.[55] In the second season, Jim Dooley joined the production as composer and subsequently wrote the music for all ten episodes.[56]

"Look Away", the theme song for the opening titles of the series, is performed by Neil Patrick Harris.[55] In keeping with the tone of the book series, the song warns the viewer against continuing to watch the unpleasant story any further.[57] The lyrics of one verse of the song change for each pair of episodes, comprising a brief synopsis of those episodes' premise. [58]

Visual effects

Zoic Studios created visual effects for the series, including the effects for many of Sunny Baudelaire's actions.[59]Tippett Studio also did work on the series, including the effects for the destruction of Josephine's house, landscape shots of Lake Lachrymose and some of the more movement heavy Sunny Baudelaire shots.[60]

Release

All eight episodes of the first season of A Series of Unfortunate Events were released worldwide on Netflix on January 13, 2017,[18] in Ultra HD 4K.[61] The second season was released on March 30, 2018.[62]

Marketing

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.[63][64][65][66] 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.[67] 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.[68]

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.[18] A trailer, featuring footage from the series and Neil Patrick Harris's character, Count Olaf, was released by Netflix in November 2016,[69] followed shortly by the first full trailer.[8] The second trailer was released in December 2016,[70] 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.[71]

Reception

Audience viewership

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.[72]

Critical response

Season 1

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 62 reviews, with an average rating of 8.1/10. 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."[73] On Metacritic the season has a score of 81 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "universal acclaim".[74]

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".[75] 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.[76]

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's portrayal of Olaf was "much more dynamic, and creepier" than Carrey's version.[77]The Verge 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".[78]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.[79]

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.[80] 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".[81]

Season 2

As with the first season, the second season received critical acclaim. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes gives the second season an approval rating of 100% based on 13 reviews, with an average rating of 7.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads: "Season two of A Series of Unfortunate Events is as gothic, twisted and absurd as the first, to the delight of moody tweens of all ages."[82] Clarisse Loughrey of The Independent praised the show as one that "essentially deals with thoughtful, intelligent young people battling to speak up against an illogical world." While observing that the "show may revel in the miserable", she opined "that the purpose of its own morbidity is to offer the assurance that hope lives in even the darkest of places." Loughrey also credited the show's expanded storyline for the Baudelaires' adult allies for "plumping up" the episodes' narrative arcs and deepening the show's emotional impact.[83]

Tristram Fane Saunders of The Telegraph awarded the second season four out of five stars. He described the show as a "gothic treat [that] also offers a wicked line in absurdist humour, and the most gorgeously toybox-like set designs you'll find anywhere outside a Wes Anderson film."[84]Radio Times reviewer Huw Fullerton praised the series for its faithfulness to the original novels. While praising the improved CGI used to make Presley Smith's character Sunny Baudelaire react better to situations, he criticized the addition of supporting "good" characters such as Nathan Fillion's Jacques Snicket and Sara Canning's Jacquelyn for "undercutting the bleakness and loneliness that characterized the novels."[85]

Rohan Naahar of the Hindustan Times described A Series of Unfortunate Events as "one of the most lavish originals in Netflix's bottomless catalogue, created by fans, for fans." He also praised Neil Patrick Harris' performance as Count Olaf.[86] The Den of Geek reviewer Michael Ahr praised tortoise-shell 'amphibiophones' and stone marimbas score for giving the television series its primal sound.[87]IGN reviewer Jonathon Dornbush criticized the second season's formulaic plot structure and lack of the insightful observations compared to the first season. He also praised several of the second season's episodes particularly "The Ersatz Elevator", "The Hostile Hospital", and "The Carnivorous Carnival" for smartly twisting the story formula and deepening the novel series' mythology. Dornbush also praised the performance of guest stars such as Lucy Punch and Patrick Warburton and awarded the second season 7.2 stars.[88]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominee Result Ref
2017 Leo Awards Best Visual Effects in a Dramatic Series Luis Alejandro Guevara, Bob Habros, Cale Jacox, Ron Simonson, Jeffrey De Guzman Nominated [89]
Best Make-Up in a Dramatic Series Rita Ciccozzi, Krista Seller, Tanya Hudson, Gitte Axen Won
Best Hairstyling in a Dramatic Series Julie Mchaffie, Dianne Holme, Jenine Lehfeldt Won
Best Guest Performance by a Female in a Dramatic Series Sara Canning Nominated
Saturn Awards Best New Media Television Series A Series of Unfortunate Events Nominated [90]
Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Music Composition for a Series James Newton Howard Nominated [91]
Gold Derby TV Awards Comedy Actor Neil Patrick Harris Nominated [92]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards Main Title Theme - TV Show/Limited Series Nick Urata and Daniel Handler Won [93]
Peabody Awards Children's & Youth Programming A Series of Unfortunate Events Won [94]
69th Primetime Emmy Awards Music Composition For A Series (Original Dramatic Score) James Newton Howard Nominated [95]
2018 Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Series - Comedy or Musical Neil Patrick Harris Nominated [96]
70th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Children's Program A Series of Unfortunate Events Nominated [97]
70th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes "The Vile Village: Part 1" Nominated [98]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Netflix and critics name the first two episodes as "The Bad Beginning", following the title of the book, while the episode itself displays the name of "A Bad Beginning" after the opening credits.[30][31]
  2. ^ Netflix names the episodes of the second season as Part 1 and Part 2, while the episodes themselves display the names as Part One and Part Two after the opening credits, following the format of the first season.
  3. ^ a b Netflix names the ninth and tenth episodes as "Carnivorous Carnival", while the episodes themselves display the name of "The Carnivorous Carnival" after the opening credits, following the title of the book.[33][34]

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