‘Series Of Unfortunate Events’ On Netflix Will Charm And Delight

Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes play the older Baudelaire children, and Presley Smith is their baby sister in The Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix.

I don’t want to oversell this new version of A Series of Unfortunate Events, but I don’t know how not to. Everything that the movie version got wrong, this TV adaptation gets right. And not just right, but brilliantly.

The difference is as stark, and as significant, as the difference between the movie and TV versions of Buffy the Vampire Slayer — where the writer of that story, Joss Whedon, took the reins and made a television version much truer to his original vision.

Daniel Handler, who wrote the original series of Lemony Snicket books, has done the same thing here. And he’s enlisted, as his key co-conspirators, two pitch-perfect collaborators: Barry Sonnenfeld, of Pushing Daisies and The Addams Family fame, as the director of many of the episodes, and an executive producer. And as another producer, and the show’s central star, Neil Patrick Harris.

This new 8-episode Netflix version, which is written by Handler, is inspiringly faithful to the original books, with two episodes devoted to each of the first handful of stories.

The look, which comes from Sonnenfeld, is full-out fairy-tale fright mode — occasionally bright colors against oppressively grey backgrounds, aptly reflecting the mood of the stories.

And these are sad, sad stories indeed. The narrative begins with three children being told their parents have died in a fire that burned down the family home — and goes downhill from there.

These stories are cracklingly intelligent, and delightfully droll, and occasionally, surprisingly, laugh-out-loud funny. They’re also…