Neil Patrick Harris stars as Count Olaf

Neil Patrick Harris stars as Count Olaf.

From a diabolical caretaker to a lake swarming with leeches, the Baudelaire children go on a journey that transcends viewers into a realm full of bleakness and ingenuity.  

Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes) and Sunny Baudelaire (Tara Strong), an infant, are enjoying a rather gray day at the beach, both literally and figuratively, which is explained by Warburton later in the show. There, they learn of the fire that engulfed their parents and their home. This tragic occasion creates a domino effect of rather unpredictable events they can’t seem to outrun. Now orphans, the Baudelaire children are passed along from one caretaker to the next, filled with unusual and gloomy circumstances.

“A Series of Unfortunate Events,” is a Netflix original series, released Jan. 13 (Friday the 13 … fitting if you ask me). This series is based off the books written by Lemony Snicket and stars Patrick Warburton who narrates the lives of three rather unlucky children, pausing to explain grammatical error, just like in the novels. 

Their first caretaker is Count Olaf played by Neil Patrick Harris. Count Olaf is a villainous man who disguises himself working alongside his heinous theater troupe. Throughout the series, he attempts to get his hands on the Baudelaires’ inheritance by finding a way into the orphan’s lives as the move from place to place. Having said that, Count Olaf becomes just as he would want, “the star of the show.” From witty remarks to outright outrageous scheming, Harris brings Count Olaf’s character to life in a way that keeps viewers both laughing and attentive.

As the children arrive at Count Olaf’s unkept, dilapidated mansion they are given a list a chores, including the task of making dinner for Count Olaf and his crooked theater troupe. Violet pulls up her hair with a ribbon and closes her eyes, just as described in the books, as she tries to come up with an innovative plan. Meanwhile, Klaus visits the library, which he often does, to research recipes to add to his vast array of knowledge. Sunny on the other hand, uses her teeth to sharpen tools, a recurring skill throughout the series used to escape the mishaps the orphans face.

However, as a staged marriage to his so-called niece Violet is unveiled, Count Olaf escapes leaving the children in the hands of their Uncle Monty (Aasif Mandvi). Uncle Monty is an endearing herpetologist but as fate would have it, his time as caretaker is swiftly punctured.

Next, the children are sent to live with their Aunt Josephine (Alfre Woodard). As the show’s pattern of misfortune continues, she becomes a sucker to bloodsuckers, all due to another one of Count Olaf’s innovative schemes.

In another attempt to escape Count Olaf’s clutch on their fortune, Violet, Klaus and Sunny landed themselves in yet another sticky situation. The Baudelaires find themselves in a “miserable mill” where they experience hypnotism and Count Olaf disguised as a woman, whom they are able to outsmart.

In the season finale, the Baudelaire children are sent to boarding school left with emptiness, unanswered questions and the uneasy feeling that they may see Count Olaf again.

The show is filled with unusual, wacky characters, which may take some getting use to if you have not read the books. Each episode has its own storyline,  leaving viewers to wonder what could possibly happen next but also a little confused at the level of weirdness of the show possesses. Yet, its bizarre cast and plot is entertaining for both elementary and college-aged students.

For those who have read the series, they are able to reminisce at their favorite chapters, due to the closeness and similarity between the books and the show. Not to mention, this show uses dark, strange humor similar to the show “The Addams Family.”  

Overall, “The Series of Unfortunate Events” attracts people of all ages, dues to its creative and educational aspects. Harris’s wacky, outrageous disguises and Warburton’s comical use of grammar entices and educates children in both elementary and middle school, in both the books and the show. While also allowing college students to relive their childhood favorite series and laugh at the witty, dark comments made by Harris which may be missed by younger generations. Due to the creativity, uniqueness, and binge-worthiness of the show, it gets four out of five stars from me.

Kate Formeller is a junior social work major. Contact Kate at forme2ka@dukes.jmu.edu.