A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning
Well that title is an ironic way to start the New Year. But anyways Happy New Year! My New Year’s resolution is to be more consistent on the blog. Yesterday I put up a post about what you could expect to see here on thevikingswife.com and so far I am 1 for 1! Today I will be doing a comparison of A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning.
When the Netflix Original Series titled A Series of Unfortunate Events came out in 2017 the Viking and I were very excited about it. I remember reading the first several books by Lemony Snicket as a teen but I don’t think I ever finished the series. The Viking and I are also big fans of Neil Patrick Harris who plays Count Olaf in the series. Since we started watching the series I’ve been wanting to read the books start to finish. For Christmas my parents gave me the entire series. So for the next couple months on Tuesdays you can expect a review on the books for the entire series because the final season premiered today!
Every book in the series is broken down into two episodes. For example, the first book, The Bad Beginning, is broken down into The Bad Beginning Parts 1 and 2. Before I get into the similarities and differences I wanted to talk about the story. While the books are written for children I feel like the show can easily be enjoyed by adults too. As the Viking said while describing the show to a friend, “It’s an entertaining little show.”
In the first installment we are introduced to the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. It starts out alright and the kids are sent to the beach by their parents. While there, Mr. Poe, a man that works at the bank approaches them and tells them that their parents are dead as a result of a fire that also destroyed their home and all of their belongings.
After a brief stay with Mr. Poe’s family they are sent to live with Count Olaf, an actor who claims to be the nearest living relative but is actually after their fortune. Olaf makes the children cook and clean for himself and his theater troupe. The Baudelaire’s also meet Justice Strauss, one of Count Olaf’s neighbors. She takes an instant liking to the children and does what she can to help them, which is not much.
After Olaf tries to make Violet marry him, Mr. Poe sees what a horrible guardian he is and the children are taken out of his care.
The entire series in either form is narrated by the author, Lemony Snicket. Remember this is a children series so there is lots of explanation of words that might have multiple meanings or words they may not have encountered.
Most of the time when a book is made into a movie or show so much information and small details are lost. But that is not the case here. Everything that happens to the Baudelaire children in the book also happens on the show. I think that is because each book is represented over the course of two episodes giving plenty of time to tell the story. I give it a 10/10 conversion because I think it is done perfectly.
The first difference is one that is to be expected. In the book Snicket tells the reader to “stop reading” and “put the book down.” On the show the viewer is told to “turn away” and “stop watching.” This difference is obviously because of the difference in formats.
The second difference is the story is the show expands the world. In the books we only see what goes on with the Baudelaire children and Snickets little asides explaining words or giving us more information. But on the show we see plenty of scenes where only the adults are present. These scenes allow for better character development of side characters and even new ones that are not present, at least thus far, in the story. It is very well done and until I read the book I did not notice it.
The third and final difference I noticed was where the children end up at the end of the installment. After Count Olaf makes his escape Mr. Poe tells them that they cannot be adopted by Justice Strauss but have to go on to their next guardian. This is true in both versions. However, in the book they return to Mr. Poe’s house and in the show Mr. Poe’s assistant, Jacquelyn, informs Mr. Poe that the children are to go to live with their Uncle Monty and he is actually the first on the list to take care of the children, not Count Olaf. This difference really goes with the second one because in the first book we don’t see any assistant to Mr. Poe.
Both versions do a good job of establishing the main characters. While the story is mostly the same there are a few differences, and as far as the show goes I believe them to be improvements. In a lot of ways it is almost like an additional round of edits. It is all well done.
I am so glad to start 2019 off with such a great story and hope you will join me next week when we see the next installment of the Baudelaire’s story in The Reptile Room.