Welcome witches and warlocks,

Today I will be reviewing the dark family series A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS currently available on Netflix.  To best describe the story, I will use my own plot summary:

After their parents die in a fire, three orphans attempt to uncover their family’s secrets, while also attempting to escape the clutches of their dastardly uncle, Count Olaf, who will murder anyone that stands in the way of him getting his hands on the family fortune. 

Reading that description it is hard not to think, “This is for families?” and while not every child will enjoy what transpires, I would hazard to guess that most will dig what happens.  My reasoning being, the way the events are presented is so amusing, it will keep most viewers coming back for more.  I mean, how many shows start off warning us that we would be better off watching something else, something more upbeat, and then keep that up throughout?  I can think of very few, this is more of a literary device, but here they are constantly reminding us in the most humorous of ways that nothing that we see is going to end up in happily ever after.

It is with this certainty that we watch the three Baudelaire orphans navigate their sad new circumstances.  It is amazing that, for the most part, the children manage to remain determined even as they bounce from dangerous episode to even more deadly circumstances.  This is where the young actors truly shine as they give wonderfully multifaceted performances in the face of the many different changes that happen along their journey.

As with most stories, the protagonists are only as good as their foil, and let me just say that Count Olaf manages to turn from goofy to imposing with the flick of a knife.  Watching Neil Patrick Harris wrap himself up in the many disguises that Count Olaf employs is a real treat as he manages to create such memorable characters.  Of course, none of the silliness of his roles ever detracts from his single minded quest to gain the Baudelaire fortune.

Along this journey, we the audience are treated to some incredibly stunning locales: from the decrepit mansion of Count Olaf himself to the lush splendor of the Reptile Room, there is a lot of visually stimulating sets.  Even some of the smaller things like a beach bound trolley or a clown themed restaurant have such pleasing color palettes or designs that they stick with they make an impression.  One of the things I particularly enjoyed about the style was that everything had such a fantastical feel while still looking as if it could have existed within our world at some point.

All in all, while this might be darker than the average family show, there is a buoyancy that keeps it very appropriate for all ages.  The solid tone combined with some stellar performances and eye popping visual flourishes make for an engrossing experience that will keep bringing the viewer back.  Fans of the book series, the works of Roald Dahl, The Addams Family (1991), or Harry Potter (2001-2011) would do well to spend some time in this glorious world.

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