A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning

Sunday 22 January 2017

This Netflix Original series kicks off with a fantastic opening theme that manages to capture the mysterious steampunk vibe of the books and previous film. From the glimpse we get from the title credits, the casting looks outstandingly close to the first set of actors, and the aesthetic appears almost identical.

The show follows the same opening and introduction as the film, however the visual effects are noticeably lacking in finesse and often look very off and obviously fake. Another glaring issue I had with it was Sunny. Not the child herself, but the voice over used for her and how her 'speech' was played out. It's very clearly not real and sounds more like an adult going goo goo ga ga than an actual baby babbling and learning to talk. Snicket's voice, as well, didn't sit right with me as it was much too deep and fast - but also maybe because I couldn't shake him voicing Kronk in The Emperor's New School and Jude Law had the perfect sad voice for narrating this particular story. 

I also didn't get a sense of things being steampunk or even slightly Victorian after the title sequence. Violet wears a (cute) pink whale printed dress and Converse, and everything just feels much more retro than anything else. Which is a bit of a shame, as the steampunk aesthetic was so well done in both the books and the film and it felt like an integral part of the story.

Count Olaf, however, was definitely the star of the premiere episode. Off the bat he's much worse than Jim Carrey's version and there's no false kindness or thinly veiled sarcastic threats - he's just plain mean. The rest of the characterisation and acting was very good and I really liked how the script seemed to stick very heavily to the first book. It's just a shame that I'm not quite sure if I do actually like it or not...

Episode one - The Bad Beginning: Part One - ended in such a way that I do want to continue with the series, as there was a very big mysterious element about the two people in handcuffs. Episode two starts with - what I felt was - a very unnecessary recap of what just happened.

The mysteries surrounding the VFD, Beatrice Baudelaire, and the sugar bowl are touched upon in part two, making me wonder at the direction the show will take. Hopefully everything will be explained well as the books left me extremely confused and with nowhere near as much information as I would have liked. Another thing that's left me confused is the time period this is set in. It's originally quite steampunk, but there are retro furnishings, and now there are references to modern things such as takeout food and the Internet? What?

While part two did end on another cliffhanger surrounding the Baudelaire parents and led up to the events of The Reptile Room, I didn't actually find it too enjoyable. The adults were just as useless as in the books - but instead of it being funny it was just frustrating, and I found myself bored a mere fifteen minutes in.

I don't know... I'm willing to give this series another chance, but it's just not what I expected and I'm just... disappointed by it.


  1. Yeah idk if I want to start this. I haven't even finished the book series but I love Neil and would watch anything he's in, but I've found a lot of mixed reviews.

    1. The books are so much fun and surprisingly lighthearted considering the title. The show, however, has gone down the darker path and while yeah, it's not a happy thing, the hope and kindness the children show in the books is the whole point? Not the creepiness? I don't know. I've only seen glowing reviews for the show and it makes me feel like I'm wrong or missing out on something because it's just not that great for me :(


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