Netflix’s imagining of the “Series of Unfortunate Events” books by Daniel Handler (under the pen name Lemony Snicket) is a visual feast full of quirky, fun performances. But on top of that, it provides some seemingly huge twists for book readers that was a very clever way to adapt a beloved series in a fresh new way.
Warning: Light spoilers ahead for the first season of “Unfortunate Events.” If you haven’t watched in its entirety, you have been warned.
In the first few episodes of the TV adaptation, “A Series of Unfortunate Events” throws readers for a loop — by revealing that the Baudelaire siblings’ parents are still alive, and being held captive in Peru.
Not only that, but Sara Canning is revealed to be playing Jacqueline — Mr. Poe’s (K. Todd Freeman) secretary, who obviously knows about the secret VFD organization and is trying to help the Baudelaire children escape Count Olaf’s (Neil Patrick Harris) evil clutches.
It’s a terrific way to adapt the show, so book readers are still in for a few twists and turns, since usually the fans of books turned into movies or TV shows know the plot going in. It also doesn’t fly in the face of the books, because the real fate of the Baudelaire parents is left up in the air in the original source material. It is never outright said that they didn’t die in the fire, but it’s implied several times.
However, there’s another big twist that sets the “Unfortunate Events” world back in line with the books — and frankly, we’re a little disappointed by it …
Suffice to say, it’s a case of mistaken identities and mixups once the Quagmires enter the story — by the end of episode 7, “The Miserable Mill: Part Two,” viewers find out that Mother (Cobie Smulders) and Father (Will Arnett) are not all they appear. It’s quite the clever plot device: For nearly seven episodes, book readers think the show is that diverging significantly from the books, then put at ease… Only to have the rug yanked out from under them again.
Our response is mixed, but it’s an intriguing expansion of the original books. For now, we’re going to focus on Jacqueline — the change from the books we can’t wait to find out more about. So far she does not appear to be a book character, although there could certainly be a twist coming in that regard as well.
But overall, Season 1 was immensely faithful to the books and subsequent seasons — a second season has already been greenlit at Netflix — should be a lot of fun. We hope there are more surprises in store for book readers.
“A Series of Unfortunate Events” is streaming now on Netflix.