A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 2 Review

I have had the distinct displeasure of cataloguing the multiple tragedies that have befallen the Baudelaire orphans for quite some time.  These poor, heroic orphans can hardly go four steps without walking headfirst into some new catastrophic cacophony created by the calculating and cromulent Count Olaf.  Last I wrote, the streaming company Netflix had decided to portray a dramatization of my first four tomes, in hopes of inciting anybody who may have information on the orphans to come forward, much like a fire may be incited upon being given a guzzle of a few gallons of gasoline by a greedy Grendel if it resides in the happy house of three soon-to-be orphans.  Their ploy must have been successful, for they have now continued on to show the next five of my books in their second season, and I must say that their craft has improved immeasurably in this incipient installment.


 For those who are as of yet unfamiliar with the plight of the Baudelaires, allow me to elucidate.  They are orphans, a word here which means “children whose parents were killed in a horrible fire set by a villainous failed actor and his troupe who now work to steal their family’s fortune and sabotage every one of the Baudelaire’s attempts at happiness.”  Their story is a miserable one, and every new location they go to, from a millionaire’s penthouse suite to a dreary carnival, only serves to further mire them in their misfortune.


One of the complaints I held from the first season of Netflix’s adaptation was the set design.  It seemed too obviously derived from Mr. Tim Burton’s work, an affront to the seriousness and the originality of the Baudelaire’s situation.  I often couldn’t tell that what I was looking at was the account of the Baudelaires rather than, say, a new “Edward Scissorhands”.  But Season 2 has alleviated these fears.  Perhaps it is due to the locales in this second season being more diverse and original than a simple reptile house or a lumber mill.  I was certainly more invested in the story, and nearly forgot the horrible tragedy surrounding it for a few moments, in awe of the impressive set design, the Ersatz Elevator in particular being a favorite of mine.


Everything else has largely improved from its already impressive inception.  Count Olaf, portrayed in all his villainousness by a presumably reluctant but duty-bound Neil Patrick Harris, is the splitting image of his real-life counterpart, from his propensity for pratfall humor to his demonic methodology.  His acting troupe often steals whatever scene they’re in, much as they attempt to steal the Baudelaire’s fortunes.  In particular, the Hook-Handed Man, were he not such a despicable human being, might be something of a fan favorite.


The second season of this cursed chronicle takes all the good things from the first season and keeps them while fixing what was broken, resulting in a show that has no option but to encourage viewers to get sucked into the Baudelaire’s tragic story.  Again, I hope the improvements made end up encouraging people with ANY information to call it in to the police.  The Baudelaire’s suffering may make for excellent televisual entertainment, but, much like the books upon which they are based, cannot be viewed by any rational, humane being without stirring in them a sense of injustice and a moral need to provide aide.  Perhaps this review may encourage such thoughts in you, reader.  I pray you act upon them, for the sake of the still-missing Baudelaires.


Devin Marcus