‘A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS’ Season 2 (2018) TV Review – Flawlessly Delightful From Beginning To End
THERE WILL BE NO SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2 UNTIL AFTER THE SCORE.
When A Series of Unfortunate Events hit Netflix back at the beginning of 2017 I was very pleasantly surprised by the final result which embraced the ridiculously quirky nature of the novels in every aspect of the series. From the captivating opening theme to Patrick Warburton‘s fantastic narration as Lemony Snicket to Neil Patrick Harris‘ flawless portrayal of Count Olaf I fell completely in love with the show and only wanted more. Now season two has landed and I’m more than thrilled to say that it surpasses season one in every department and delivers a phenomenal wholly entertaining season of quality television. Every aspect of the season from the dialogue, to the cinematography, costumes, characters, storylines, set design, dark humour, is handled to near perfection and all makes a deeply unpleasant world endlessly enthralling. I cannot wait to get into breaking down this season (without spoilers) as there isn’t a single moment I think should be altered or improved as everything just works. This season continues to follow the Baudelaires on their quest for a normal life whilst Count Olaf won’t stop until he gets his hands on their fortune.
The quirkiness of the series is what makes it so damn unique, and this tone outlines every scene from top to bottom, inside and out through the dialogue, cinematography, and background details. The quippy dialogue especially is absolutely brilliant, ridiculous, and written so damn creatively that I regularly found myself captivated by the sweeping dialogue alone. There is such an attention to detail in the various conversations that there isn’t a single throwaway line in here. Every sentence and almost every word has purpose and meaning within an episode and creates a number of connections between multiple seperate pieces of dialogue that are so damn poetic to hear. Each episode has a couple of common themes or phrases lying within its intelligent dialogue that subtly repeat themselves for either comedic, informative, or dramatic effect. This detail adds a rewarding factor to the series for those who pay attention to every piece of dialogue no matter how insignificant it may seem. The dialogue is a character in itself and drives the plot and character development forward in such a way that no other series I’ve experienced has managed to accomplish. I mean, the series also does a fantastic job in actually teaching you about certain words and definitions of phrases without feeling forced or taking away from the main plot…… truly genius.
And then we get to the elaborate and stylistic cinematography and set design of the season which is absolutely exquisite and stunning to watch. I found myself every now and then getting lost in the highly detailed backgrounds as in every shot there isn’t any truly negative space. Every corner of the screen has something to draw your eye no matter how small or seemingly insignificant. There is a very clear Wes Anderson influence in nearly every scene with captivating symmetry and tracking shots all throughout the season. The style is so Anderson-esque you wouldn’t be wrong in initially thinking it is one of Anderson’s works.
The structure of the season is an approach unique to this series and one that I wholeheartedly love for a number of reasons. You obviously have a wider storyline that spans the entire season but there are a number of smaller more focused storylines that are broken up into to episodes each. I think this adaptation of the source material is brilliant as this means that after every two episodes there is a fresh new location boasting new costumes, characters and chances for humour. It’s great because it ensures you never get sick of a certain location or certain characters because it’s operating on a constantly rotating roster. It adapts the source material perfectly as the two episode structure allows all of the story beats to be hit without skipping details or dragging on for too long.
The characters and performances behind them are absolutely brilliant and that’s including those both new and returning. As per usual, Neil Patrick Harris completely disappears into the role of Count Olaf both visually and in terms of the way he acts. Right down to his movements and body language he portrays this crazy conniving villain in a way that makes his evil deeds so damn fun to watch. Violet (Malina Weissman), Klaus (Louis Hynes), and Sunny (Presley Smith) are three incredible protagonists who are all written exceptionally well. It’s key that in this story you feel strongly for them what they have to go through, because if you don’t then you might as well be rooting for Count Olaf to win and then this won’t be a series of unfortunate events. Larry (Patrick Breen) and Jacquelyn (Sara Canning) are two characters who have a much more involved role this season and it is very much appreciated because they’re two characters who are always so much fun to watch on screen. And then you have two new characters this season who I will not name played by Nathan Fillion and Sara Rue who are absolutely one of my favourite parts of the season. Fillion especially has a number of lines in here that cracked me up, and it’s all due to his impeccable delivery.
I cannot stress enough how damn enjoyable this show is to watch especially now that season two manages to improve on season one where even then there was little room for improvement. The attention to detail in every single technical and creative department creates a fulfilling experience like no other. If you are a fan of the source material, or just love a good quirky series with plenty of dark humour and aren’t afraid to see some kids go through a number of unfortunate circumstances then I highly recommend this series.
SPOILERS FOR SEASON 2 OF A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS TO FOLLOW
Below is just going to be a list of quotes, jokes, moments, and themes of the season that I loved.
- The twins vs triplets feuds about the Quagmires
- Nervous vs Anxious in Episode 3
- “Cafe Salmonella” in Episode 3
- “Lets hope we get lucky in the penthouse” – Jacques
- “Wait until the readers of the Daily Punctilio hear about this” – Eleanora Poe
- “We’re swimming upstream” – Jacques
- “Who knew the hinterlands were so far away” – Mr Poe
- “An interminably long time” in Episode 5
- The bike riding mailman running joke
- Spontaneous sing-a-long part in Episode 7
- Awesome flashback sequence of Episode 9
- Mysterious appearance of unnamed character played by Allison Williams