Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Now on Netflix: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 2 (2018)

A Series of Unfortunate Events, Season 2 (2018) - Written by Daniel Handler as Lemony Snicket; Directed by Allan Arkush; Starring Neil Patrick Harris, Patrick Warburton, Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes, K. Todd Freeman, Presley Smith, Lucy Punch, Nathan Fillion, David Alan Grier, Kerri Kenney.

By Emily Haile

In its second season, Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events makes the book series come alive in a perfect mix of old and new elements. The show keeps the backbone of the books intact while adding new characters and subplots that are integrated seamlessly.

Neil Patrick Harris continues to be a chameleon in his portrayal of Count Olaf and his many aliases. Each character Olaf disguises himself as is clearly different than the next. Making Olaf come alive is a feat itself, and playing Olaf in disguise is even more commendable. Harris also proves himself to be a triple threat in episode 9 in the House of Freaks musical number.

Daniel Handler's writing as Lemony Snicket is distinctive and unique. He does a great job of adding one-liners and other new comedic elements that would have fit perfectly into the books. For instance, at the Prufrock Preparatory School pep rally it's revealed that the mascot is a dead horse. You can't beat a dead horse.

The major difference between the books and Netflix series is the prominence of adult characters. Book readers don't get an in-depth look at V.F.D. until later in the series, but this addition in the show is a nice change that doesn't interrupt the flow of the series. The scene at V.F.D. Headquarters in the Mortmain Mountains tugs at the viewer's heartstrings because we're given a glimpse into the volunteers' lives before they were sabotaged.

My favorite character to come to life in season 2 is Carmelita Spats, played by Kitana Turnbull. Turnbull captures the essence of Carmelita as if she jumped straight out of the books. There's a fine line between going overboard and being just annoying enough with Carmelita, and Turnbull does a great job keeping her right where she needs to be.

Another excellent new character is Esme Squalor, played by Lucy Punch. Punch's adaptation of Esme is perfectly villainous with a hint of comedy. Esme is first seen opposite Tony Hale, who plays husband Jerome Squalor, in the third episode. She begins as a supporting character but outshines nearly everyone else by the end of the season. Esme is particularly frightening at Heimlich Hospital.

The set design is exceptional as well. Anyone familiar with the books will recognize the locations immediately. From the tombstone-shaped buildings at Prufrock Prep to the staircase at 667 Dark Avenue, each location is designed exactly as it should be. Netflix brings the books alive in the best possibly way.

The first two seasons of A Series of Unfortunate Events are now on Netflix.

Rating: ***1/2

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