Readers, I want you to picture me.
It’s 10:30 on a Monday, a metric ****-ton past my deadline for this post. I’m weary from a hard day of work (plus overtime). I’m mentally wiped after my past three attempts at creating a post have resulted in thousand word essays, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. And in these times, I turn to the near-infinite bounty of the internet for inspiration, and lo and behold readers the internet hath provided:
That’s right- it’s a picture of Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, from the upcoming Netflix show A Series of Unfortunate Events.
Because they’re doing that.
Yeah, I’m going nuts here too.
Now I enjoyed the hell out of the books, which were impeccably written (“impeccably written” being a Danish term meaning “the best thing ever”). I thought the 2004 movie adaptation was fascinating, funny, and as faithful a take as could be done in the space of two hours.
That said, I am pumped for the series, and absolutely loving the idea of finally seeing NHP as a villain (yeah, I saw Gone Girl, but I’m not counting that one). And did I mention that the voice of Lemony Snickett will be conveyed to us in the dulcet tones of Patrick Warburton?
Well that’s happening too.
Now am I, a quarter-century-old man going nuts over the rebooting of a young adult series?
You bet I am, and I even still have the lovingly worn (if decade-old) V.F.D. t-shirt to prove it.
Let me hit you with the highlights:
- This is a series which is about being smarter. Not lucky. Not being “destined” or “fated”, or with the characters discovering they’re somehow the “chosen ones.” No, our intrepid heroes get through by simply being more clever and more well read than their antagonists- be it Olaf’s macabre crew or the hostile world in general. And that’s something I just don’t think you can have too much of.
- This is a series which you make you smarter. Raise your hand if you learned “ersatz”, “denouement”, “penultimate”, and a host of other ridiculously fun vocab exclusively from the SOUE series. Now obviously I can’t see any of you raising your hands, so I’m just going to assume (correctly), that it was most of you. As is right and proper.
- I think there’s something to be said for the surrealism of it all. Now I don’t think Daniel Handler set out to create an introduction to absurdist literature, but I do think that’s very much the effect. The sometimes gothic, sometimes steampunk, sometimes pulp,
sometimesalways refreshingly weird style does, I believe, open folks up to genres of literature, music, and film that’d otherwise go untouched and unappreciated. To call the series “baby’s first Kafka” would do it an injustice, but I will maintain that A Series of Unfortunate Events is there to help folks along the way.
- And dammit, I think it’s just the spirit of the series itself that needs applauding. That, in spite of all the injustice and suffering that the orphans endure, it’s about rising to the occasion, raging against the dying of the light, imagining Sisyphus as happy, and a host of other dark but ultimately heroic existential ideas. And there will be those (“those” being a way of saying “heathens”) who will say that the 2004 movie was a trainwreck. To them we say:
That’s what I have for you folks. It’s not an incisive look at racism in modern media or a soul-searching examination of our history. It’s just a way of starting off the week by saying “Hey, that’s pretty awesome.”
That said, Aasif Mandvi is getting to play Uncle Monty, so that’s pretty awesome too.