Bringing the unfortunate events of our childhood back to life

IF THERE was anything I’ve done as sinister as Count Olaf’s schemes, it was hiding sequels of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” in the most unvisited parts of the library, burying the most borrowed books behind atlases, encyclopedias and other research references.
This was back in 2004, when library cards were still a thing and being on the frequent borrower’s list meant you were a cool kid. Foreign titles by Lemony Snicket and J.K. Rowling were also hard to come by because they were always sold out in bookstores.
The world introduced by Lemony Snicket in “A Series of Unfortunate Events” was the Upside Down equivalent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. It was a place that kids had nightmares about—a gothic universe that went according to Murphy’s Law that was both gloomy and sinister.
It wasn’t that misfortune purposely hunted down the Baudelaire orphans Violet, Klaus and Sunny. Misfortune was simply in their shadows, ready to snatch any glimmer of hope the very moment positivity presented itself.
The Baudelaires lost their parents to a terrible fire and had an evil legal guardian take their place. Count Olaf had his eyes set on the Baudelaire fortune, and planning to kill three scrawny orphans to get it made no chink in his conscience.
And just like how readers refused to shut the books—despite the periodic suggestion of the book’s narrator—the series’ charm would work its similar magic on viewers, making them refuse to turn their screens off as they watched “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Netflix.
The series format allowed the story and its characters to develop, while there is also enough time to explore the details that the books have provided, and watch its words leap off the pages to visually translate into a cinematic panel.
“We wanted to create our own world that was unique to these books,” director Barry Sonnenfeld said in an exclusive Netflix featurette.
Netflix had created a hyperreal world on TV—one that will also indulge fans with musical and theatrical scenes.
Now may be the time to reread Lemony Snicket’s books as familiar lines would definitely be used in the show, delighting its fans even more.
“I come into the set, and I’m like ‘we’re living inside the books,’” Malina Weissman, who plays Violet Baudelaire, said.
Neil Patrick Harris is also said to take about four hours to physically transform into Count Olaf. The actor will surely bring odd humor to the show and, hopefully, a convincing portrayal of the greedy and scheming antagonist.
Among his favorite Count Olaf disguises are Stephano, Shirley and Captain Sham. This gives us a solid clue that the first season would be covering not just the first book “The Bad Beginning.”
Starting Jan. 13—a Friday the 13th, nonetheless—the Netflix series is bound to transport us back to our childhood spent with the Baudelaire orphans. One that was filled with our imaginations of Justice Strauss’ library, Lousy Lan and the Reptile Room, among the many interesting places.
Nostalgia persists to be a powerful tool, especially for this series. Soon, the old elementary readings would be a sure phenomenal hit, all because our childhood favorites always have a way of sticking with us until the end.
A retired Inquirer editor once told me that the body ages, but the soul does not. Those that you’ve loved in your younger years will always stay with you, and your fondness for it will only grow, he added.
After all, a good story remains as it is—no matter what age you are.
How are you finding the series so far? The episodes of the fourth book "The Miserable Mill," are my favorites!
This post was first published on Inquirer Super on Dec. 11. Watch out for our #SUPERreview on Netflix's "A Series of Unfortunate Events" this coming Sunday!

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