A Teaser of Unfortunate Events: The Netflix Nightmare


The much-anticipated revival of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events has a teaser and a Netflix release date. Let’s get dreary.

As something of an unwritten rule, book-to-screen adaptations are either a rousing success or dissatisfying flop. While we’ve seen stories like Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings flourish on the big screen, others have failed to live up to reader expectations. Percy Jackson suffered through too many edits to the original material. The Golden Compass didn’t do well enough at the box office to merit its sequels. Eragon and The Mortal Instruments alike disappointed fans.

And so it was with 2004’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, which–unfortunately–didn’t at all live up to the thirteen-book series. It had its moments, but on the whole it didn’t follow through with the same punch as the books.

Image via Netflix

Cue Netflix to save the day. Or, at this point, to salvage the story. In 2014, Netflix announced their intentions to develop the books as a TV series rather than a movie. Because A Series of Unfortunate Events journeys through so many plots, a TV series certainly makes more sense than one feature film. And two years later, Netflix has finally given us a peek at what’s to come.

Although the show boasts an all-star cast that includes Neil Patrick Harris, Joan Cusack, Bernadette Peters, and Aasif Mandvi, only one character shows up in the teaser. Patrick Warburton makes his debut as the mysterious Lemony Snicket, the narrator of the show and pseudonym of the books’ author, Daniel Handler.

In true Snicket fashion, Warburton uses his time in the limelight to advise the audience to rethink their part in the series:

"“The story of the Baudelaire orphans is so upsetting and so utterly unnerving, the entire crew is suffering from low morale, a phrase which here means ‘currently under medical observation for melancholia, ennui, and acute wistfulness. […] So please, don’t make the same mistake that Netflix has, and look away before this dire tale is even filmed, and avoid the cruel whimsy and whimsical cruelty of what’s to come.”"

If that’s not a quote straight from one of the books, it sure encapsulates what those books are all about. Handler-as-Snicket’s patented gloomy tone is intact. Not to mention the little vocabulary lesson, which is a regular occurrence in the original series.

And of course, what would an Unfortunate Events teaser be without a little Count Olaf? We don’t see Neil Patrick Harris in all his evil glory just yet. But he can be heard celebrating off-screen, much to the disdain of Mr. Snicket. Warburton pulls off a very “Not this guy again” expression. This is precisely the Baudelaires’ predicament throughout the series. Count Olaf just won’t stop showing up and, in doing so, effectively ruining their lives.

Overall, the teaser sets the dismal yet whimsical tone of the series. Indeed, “dimsical” may be the perfect made-up word to describe A Series of Unfortunate Events. Every nice touch pieces together to create a thoroughly accurate and enjoyable precursor to the show. In a mere minute and a half, Netflix shows that it’s got what it takes to bring the Baudelaires and their world to life.

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A Series of Unfortunate Events premieres on Netflix on January 13, 2017. Fittingly enough, that’s Friday the 13th. Mark your calendars for the Bad Beginning. And remember: where there’s a teaser, there’s a trailer not terribly far behind. So keep your eyes peeled for further Baudelaire despair–we sure will.