A Bad Beginning Review

Has Netflix started its own series of unfortunate events by giving new life to the franchise?


A Series of Unfortunate Events is based on the books of the same name, with the story of each book spanning two episodes of the show. This is the second attempt at adapting the books to screen, the first being the 2004 movie starring Jim Carrey as Count Olaf and Emily Browning and Liam Aiken as Violet and Klaus Baudelaire respectively.

Despite being well received and becoming the highest grossing film produced by Nickelodeon, it has since slipped to fourth place, studio delays caused the actors to age out of the roles and eventually any plans for a sequel were dropped. Then, a full ten years later, in 2014 Netflix announced plans to bring it back as a TV series. A TV series which, as of 13th January 2017 is available to stream, but is this a series of unfortunate events worth going through?


The Bad Beginning tells the story of how the three Baudelaire orphans first meet Olaf, now played by Neil Patrick Harris, when they are put into his care after the unfortunate death of both of their parents. Except that isn’t the case. In this version we know from the end of the first episode that Violet, Klaus and Sonny are not orphans at all.

The Baudelaire parents have been kidnapped. Having read the first eight books years ago, it was surprising to see this happen so early on, However, since this was never revealed in those eight books, it may be original to the series though that seems unlikely considering the rest of the show, so far, is very loyal to the source material.


Olaf makes the kids do chores, treats them terribly and plots to steal their fortune by literally marrying Violet during a play. It’s all there and Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes, Violet and Klaus, are easy to empathise with, but some of the best bits are the fleshing out of smaller characters like Justice Strauss and Gustav.

Joan Cusack gets to explore Strauss’ loneliness and desire to have a family of her own much deeper than her book counterpart and Gustav never actually appears in the books having died before the children reach their uncle Monty’s, but here Luke Camilleri gets to play him as an active member of the same secret organisation as the Baudelaire’s parents.


It wouldn’t be A Series of Unfortunate Events without Lemony Snicket. Patrick Warburton and his powerful voice fill the role nicely adding an extra level of intrigue to the outcome of the story. The world of the show is beautiful trading realism for style. This gamble pays off and helps hide some of the obvious CGI on Sonny, the youngest Baudelaire.

The first chapter was anything but bad and if the show continues to be as strong this could be yet another success story for Netflix.


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