Five ways Netflix’s ‘Lemony Snicket’ looks to have improved on the 2004 film

A new trailer for Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events hit the web late last week (December 6), and it’s looking good. The miserable series of children’s books about the travails of three orphans-with-a-fortune has a long history: the first novel was published in 1999; the first three books received a film adaptation in 2004, never receiving a sequel; the 13th and final novel was published in 2006. The Netflix version arrives on the service early next year on the appropriate date of January 13 – here’s five ways it looks like the adaptation we’ve been waiting for.

Neil Patrick Harris > Jim Carrey

In the 2004 film A Series of Unfortunate Events, Jim Carrey played Count Olaf, the miserly first guardian of Violet, Klaus and Sunny; latterly Olaf becomes a disguise-donning villain following their every move in an attempt to swindle the vast wealth awaiting them on Violet’s 18th birthday. Here Olaf is played by Neil Patrick Harris, who seems to be avoiding Carreyisms and has brought a new kind of mania to the character.

Neil Patrick Harris in A Series Of Unfortunate EventsJoe Lederer/Netflix

It feels like a storybook

The books may be pretty miserable things, but they’re full of Dahl-style contraptions and weird phenomena, and these deserve a strong visual treatment. It’s good to see the trailer bringing out a madcap, colourful side in the story.

A Series Of Unfortunate EventsJoe Lederer / Netflix

The supporting cast isn’t show-offy

The 2004 film had high-profile supporting actors including Billy Connolly, Jude Law and Meryl Streep. Though it was fun to see Streep in that kind of role, it seems the actors in Netflix’s supporting cast have sunk into their parts more smoothly. Alfre Woodard, recently seen fucking shit up in Luke Cage, plays the pantophobic Aunt Josephine; Joan Cusack will appear as the oblivious Justice Strauss; Patrick Warburton (whose voice you’ll recognise from Family Guy) is our dour Lemony Snicket here.

Alfre Woodard and Neil Patrick Harris in A Series Of Unfortunate EventsJoe Lederer/Netflix

Klaus and Violet are better cast

The cast of the first film wasn’t bad at all, but the actors playing Violet and Klaus (Emily Browning and Liam Aiken) were both two years older than their book counterparts at the time. This series’ actors are cast closer to their characters’ age, making the dangers facing the children an even more horrifying prospect.

A Series Of Unfortunate EventsJoe Lederer / Netflix

It’s not just the first three books being adapted

The film was a slight disappointment to fans because it only covered the first three of Lemony Snicket’s 13 books. The first season of Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events will contain eight episodes, with each two telling half of a novel. This means we’ll see The Bad BeginningThe Reptile RoomThe Wide Window, and The Miserable Mill in the first series, and unless the first series absolutely bombs, there’ll probably two more seasons to finish off the story.

Joan Cusack in A Series Of Unfortunate EventsJoe Lederer / Netflix

Take a look at the trailer for A Series of Unfortunate Events below: