In a series of most fortunate events Neil Patrick Harris and Patrick Warburton have signed on to the Netflix adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events. Harris will be playing the antagonistic Count Olaf, while Warburton will appear both in voice and on camera as Snicket himself. In a 2004 feature film adaptation Snicket’s voice was provided by Jude Law though the character never appeared on screen. Count Olaf was played in a memorably overdone performance by Jim Carrey.
The series is scheduled for 8 initial episodes so it’s uncertain how the writers plan to cover the massive trove of material covered in the span of 13 novels written by Daniel Handler under the Lemony Snicket pen name.
The 2004 film trailer:
The story follows the Baudelaire children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, after they are orphaned and sent to live with Count Olaf, a distant relative intent on taking control of their inherited fortune. After escaping Olaf’s clutches the children rotate through a series of guardians while the Count continues plotting after the money. In the final half of the series the children are on the run after Olaf frames them for his murder.
None of this is light reading, and the series is well known for its dark humor and gothic setting; but it is a children’s series which drew masses of readers, selling more than 60 million copies in 41 languages.
Unfortunately the 2004 movie, which combined the first three novels, didn’t catch on quite as well, though it is still considered a success with $209 million in global box office. Jim Carry’s outsized portrayal of Count Olaf was more noise than menace however, leaving the prime conflict of the story hollow and dull.
The same company that did the movie, Paramount, is producing the Netflix show through its Paramount TV division but the additions of Harris and Warburton are an encouraging start. Where Carrey chewed up scenery and played up Olaf’s eccentricity Harris is more inclined toward a refined, controlled nemesis. Law’s portrayal of Snicket held the charm of a thoughtful, British professor, but Warburton’s iconic bass voice and formidable size cut the figure of a comforting uncle.
A reprisal of Warburton’s cult show The Tick was just announced but Warburton will not need to split his time. He will not be joining the cast although he is expected to serve as an executive producer. He is still appearing on NBC’s Crowded but the slim episode order for Snicket should make scheduling easier.
Malina Weissman (TNMT) and newcomer Louis Hynes have also been cast as Violet and Klaus. Barry Sonnefeld will direct from a script written by Handler and Mark Hudis.