- Like any good Millennial who remembers reading Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events as a child, I was thrilled when I found out that Netflix were going to make the novels into a TV series. I mean, who wouldn’t be super excited if they found out that one of their favourite childhood book series was going to be made into a multi-season TV show? The 2004 film was good, but it was just one 2-hour film and it only covered the first three books. A long-form TV series (it looks like it’s going to be about three seasons, given the current rate of 4 books per season) covering the whole book series is much better.
- I have to say, though, while I like and appreciate that a TV adaption has given the writers room to develop each of the stories, I feel slightly underwhelmed by the result. I’m not sure precisely what it is, but one thing I can identify that I didn’t like was that the mood was all wrong. It was all a bit too flippant and whimsical for a series about tragedy and misfortune. Disconcertingly, all the characters apart from the Baudelaire children themselves were written like they were in a comedy—the Baudelaires were the only characters played straight, and it produced the jarring impression that everyone was in on a mean joke on the Baudelaires.
- I mean, I get that this kind of dark humour was part of the novels, but I feel that the tone was still taken too far in the direction of comedy, which I felt trivialised the dangers and tragedies that befell the Baudelaires. I watched the 2004 film after I watched the Netflix series, too, and I thought the film got the tone much better. It still had comedy, but it felt darker and more somber, as it should. The constant cameos of the Baudelaires’ parents, frequent reminders that the Baudelaire orphans aren’t actually orphans and that their parents are coming for them, also detracted from what was supposed to be a tone of bleakness and misery.
- I also thought—and I’m surprised to find myself saying this—that it was almost too faithful to the novels. Usually I’m one of the bothersome people who criticise screen adaptions of books for not being faithful enough to the text, but here I think it stifled the making of artistic decisions that might have allowed the stories to translate better onto screen, ultimately at the expense of the show’s pacing and writing. Again, I feel like the film, which took more creative liberties, succeeded better in this respect, despite cramming three books into two hours.
- All that said, I don’t want to make it sound like I didn’t like the show. I did like it, on balance. I watched it all the way to the end and I’m looking forward to the next season. I guess it’s just easier to talk about the things that annoyed you than to give praise. But one thing I will definitely praise is the acting of the three Baudelaire children (well, two, since one was a baby and wasn’t really acting). Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes were as good as Violet and Klaus Baudelaire as you could have asked for, and definitely two more young stars to watch out for brought into the limelight by Netflix, along with the Stranger Things kids. Neil Patrick Harris was also very entertaining as Count Olaf, but I do think he could have been much better if the writers allowed him to pull back on the self-conscious comedy.
There are a lot of upcoming new shows I’m excited about and I’m going to fanboy about all of them and you can’t stop me.
Obviously. Naturally, with the extended wait between Doctor Who series, I need some new Who-related content to tide me over until Series 10. I’m genuinely excited about Class. I love the concept and, being a new fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, I’m really encouraged by the constant comparisons between the concept for Class and Buffy. And, frankly, it’s about time the BBC produced another Doctor Who spinoff. Torchwood was great, but it’s been off the air since 2012 and left a big, gaping Who-spinoff-shaped hole in its place. While we don’t know much about Class yet apart from the bare skeleton of a concept, and the cast, it does look like it’s going to be a show that appeals to grown-ups as well as a younger demographic, much like Buffy did. In that sense it’s sort of midway between Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures in terms of the audience it’s pitched at. I have very high hopes for it, and I’m excited to see where it will go.
Because I need more Jenna Coleman in my life. I’m so excited to see Jenna Coleman in the starring role in a TV drama as high-profile and ambitious as Victoria. There’s no doubt Jenna deserves it. She acquitted herself with high distinction during her run on Doctor Who, visibly maturing into an exceptional actress over her three years’ playing Clara, and I’m really excited to see how she holds herself in what is no doubt the very challenging role of Queen Victoria. The production itself looks amazing, with (if you’ve seen the publicity shots and the trailers) very lavish period detail. Jenna stars alongside a star-studded cast including Tom Hughes, Eve Myles, Rufus Sewell and Tommy Knight. There are a lot of Who alumni involved in this production, too: Jenna is joined by Eve Myles (of Torchwood) and Tommy Knight (of The Sarah Jane Adventures), so there’s plenty for Whovians to enjoy.
Another exciting new period drama about a great Queen of England—this one about our own Elizabeth II, which follows the Queen’s life from her wedding in 1947 to the present day. The main reason I’m excited about The Crown is that it features two of my favourite contemporary actors, not only my favourite Doctor, Matt Smith, as Prince Philip, but also Claire Foy in the starring role of Elizabeth II. For those unfamiliar with Claire Foy, I can confirm she’s a brilliant actress who played played a number of minor roles in various series and films before coming to much greater prominence as Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall and now in this series. I’m incredibly excited to see her in The Crown, maybe even more so than I am to see Matt! Look forward to it. It should be great.
A Series of Unfortunate Events
I loved Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events books when I was a kid, and I’m so excited that the books are being made into a TV adaptation. I mean the 2004 film was good BUT THERE ARE 13 BOOKS DAMNIT DON’T START A JOB YOU’RE NOT GOING TO FINISH. In contrast, a whole TV series adapting the whole series of books has the capacity to really do justice to the stories (I’m a huge advocate for the adaptation of book series into TV series for this reason). Apart from the fact that it’s being produced by Paramount for Netflix, we don’t know a great deal about the series yet, although apparently filming has finished, so it should be released fairly soon. It stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, and child actors Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes as Violet and Klaus Baudelaire. I can’t wait to see it. If you haven’t, I’d definitely recommend reading the books first if you’re going to watch it, not only because the books are amazing, but also because, as with any screen adaptation of a novel, you get so much more out of the screen adaptation if you’ve read the book first.
His Dark Materials
Another one of my all-time favourite novel series, His Dark Materials, is being made into a TV drama by the BBC, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’m thrilled that Philip Pullman’s wonderful trilogy is being made into a long-form TV drama, because, you know, the last time the trilogy was adapted onto screen, in the 2007 film The Golden Compass, it was kind of rubbish. Very rubbish, actually. Philip Pullman’s stories really demand the long-form TV format, so it’s gratifying and exciting to see that they’re finally going to get the treatment they deserve. There are some very impressive names involved in the production, too: it’s being written by Jack Thorne (who wrote the stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) and produced by Julie Gardner and Jane Trantor (who both oversaw Doctor Who’s return to screen in 2005), which should reassure us that the stories are in very capable hands. Apart from that, though, we actually don’t know much at all about the series. It was commissioned late last year by the BBC, but as far as I know no casting or writing has been done, let alone filming. It may be a while before we see it on our screens.
Which of these upcoming shows are you excited for? Feel free to fangirl/boy in the comments!