Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is a Faithful, but Inconsistent, Adaptation

I’m of rather mixed feelings about Netflix’s newest original series, A Series of Unfortunate Events. If I take it at face value, it’s a very faithful adaptation of the book series, and it’s honestly an enjoyable way to spend eight hours. Neil Patrick Harris does a fantastic job as Count Olaf, and slips into and out of each of Olaf’s disguises with a whimsical flair that makes the unfortunate events of the series seem drearily entertaining rather than just dreary. Though it seems at times darker than the book series, much of the acting is clearly meant for a children’s demographic, as the characters go through the plot reveals with all the suspense of a Scooby-Doo-esque “I would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for you meddling kids!” And the runtime, though a little bloated, allows a lot of time for the adult actors to make their shenanigans funny. I really enjoyed watching this series. However, in adapting the book series to Netflix, a few things were expanded on that ended up making the story’s internal logic a little, well, unfortunate.

Spoilers for the series (and some mild spoilers for the books) after the jump.

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Throwback Thursdays: The Eragon Movie

Eragon Movie PosterIt has now just been ten years since the Eragon movie came out, which means that I can finally talk about it for my Throwback. Like its book counterparts, I’m sure no one will be surprised to hear me say that the movie is awful. Granted, I’m sure that any movie which attempted to accurately portray the first book would be pretty bad—but this movie didn’t even try for accuracy. In terms of adaptations, it’s at about The Last Airbender’s level of bad. Not only is the movie only an hour and a half long—which is not enough time to adapt a book over five hundred pages—nothing in it makes any kind of sense.

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Magical Mondays: Lucifer, Magical Elements, and Worldbuilding

I have recently become enamored of the new TV show Lucifer, and while I fear that it will just be another Supernatural, I’m a sucker for religiously themed supernatural shows. And this one is based on the Lucifer character created by Neil Gaiman, whose Sandman comics had amazing magical, supernatural characters, as well as worldbuilding that really helped the reader understand how magic and magical beings existed in this world. Upsettingly, however, Lucifer seems to have none of those things. The characters are amusing and even somewhat complex, but really if you boil the show down to the bare bones, it’s just a cop drama that happens to have the devil in it. Where’s the magic? Where’s the supernatural? I’m starting to wonder if there will be any at all.

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Trailer Tuesdays: The Little Prince

Like many people, I read The Little Prince as a child, puzzling over first the illustrations and later the themes of the novel. It was such a unique reading experience that I never thought it would be adapted successfully in any other medium. Yet here we are in 2015, and there’s a trailer (well, a couple trailers) for a Little Prince movie on the internet. I’m… cautiously excited?

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Theatre Thursdays: Movie Musical Do-Overs

One of the ways I often pass time is by thinking about film adaptations of my favorite musicals. Usually I’m imagining musicals that haven’t yet made it to the silver screen, but sometimes I think about those musicals which have been adapted for film but could use another go. With the much-anticipated Annie remake starring Quvenzhané Wallis only months away, this topic has moved to the forefront of my thoughts. Here are three of my top picks for movie musical remakes.

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Theatre Thursdays: Sondheim Discusses Into the Woods Changes

Disney Into the Woods Movie LogoWhen news broke that Into the Woods, one of the most popular works by the immensely celebrated Stephen Sondheim, would be made into a movie, there was plenty of excitement to go around. When that news included the fact that it would be produced by Walt Disney Studios, however, that excitement was more than a little dampened. Many fans, myself included, were worried that the squeaky clean company with a penchant for glossing over (or straight-up re-writing) anything objectionable in a fairy tale would make drastic changes to the musical and its very adult overtones.

When Playbill released some comments Sondheim made regarding the film’s production, it seemed all our fears were realized.

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Theatre Thursdays: A Potter play is on the way!

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneNews surfaced a week or two ago about a new play in the works all about our favorite little wizard, Harry Potter. The play will focus on Harry’s early life, before he gets his Hogwarts letter, and aims to premiere on London’s West End sometime in 2015. Though J.K. Rowling will not pen the script herself, reports state that she will co-produce the piece and work with the playwright.

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Trailer Tuesdays: Fun Home

Fun Home is a new musical based on the book of the same name. The book, described by author Alison Bechdel as “a family tragicomic”, is a graphic memoir of the author’s young life, particularly her relationship with her father. Their relationship is complicated by the fact that he was a closeted homosexual and she is unsure of what her true feelings are for him and what his true feelings were towards her and the rest of their family.

"My father and I grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town, and he was gay, and I was gay, and he killed himself, and I became a lesbian cartoonist"

“My dad and I both grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town, and he was gay and I was gay, and he killed himself and I became a lesbian cartoonist.”

I read Bechdel’s memoir on a whim when I was working at my college’s bookstore because it looked interesting, and while I wouldn’t say I was enthralled, I did find it to be more than worth my time. The author sorts through her memories and tries to understand who her father was. While reading, the thought “This would make a great musical” never once entered my mind, but here we are, with the musical running off-Broadway and getting pretty good buzz.

As always, I’m interested in musicals, and if they’re based on something with which I’m already familiar, I’m even more inclined to check them out. Just because I wouldn’t put this particular one at the top of my list for books I’d like to see as musicals doesn’t mean I won’t like it, so I was interested when I saw that this was happening. When I saw that Michael Cerveris would be playing the father, I was even more encouraged because I will never forget the very real terror I felt watching his Sweeney Todd, and believe that he can bring complex characters to life with stunning clarity.

Based on the preview, I really like the look of the musical. The costumes and sets have a quality to them that seems somehow real yet imaginative at the same time. The design isn’t too conceptual, but it also resists being mundane or straightforward. It reminds me of the illustrations in the memoir, which are by no means fanciful, but do more than simply create literal depictions of events or places.

Fun HomeThe music doesn’t do a whole lot for me, but I don’t dislike it. With such a short selection in the trailer, I will reserve judgment on that aspect until I can see/hear more, though. I like it more each time I listen to it, so I can imagine I’ll like it more when heard in full.

I’m very much interested in seeing where this musical goes. Its run has been extended at the Public Theater, and with such good reviews, it’s very likely that the show will continue on. It may not make the jump to Broadway, where stakes are higher and success stories for quirky, unique musicals are few and far between, but it can’t be ruled out just yet. Hopefully I can see this show or at least get a cast recording if/when one is made.

Theatre Thursdays: The Princess Bride on Broadway… Yay?

The Princess BrideSo it turns out that The Princess Bride is gearing up for a Broadway production! No official word on whether the adaptation will be a musical or a play, but I’m willing to bet on musical since they’re more marketable on Broadway. The book-turned-movie tells the story of young lovers Westley and Buttercup and the epic, and often comical, obstacles they face to be with one another. They are joined by some excellent side characters, both villainous and friendly, to make a memorable and interesting adventure. The romantic narrative and character-heavy cast make this story ripe for musical adaptation… but what’s this? It’s being produced by Disney theatricals? Suddenly my bubble has deflated, though not quite burst entirely.

Here’s my issue: I really don’t love Disney’s stage productions. They usually have some great things going for them but I find them to often lack inspiration. On the less favorable end of the scale, The Lion King had some of the best stagecraft I’ve ever seen, but was word-for-word the script of the original movie and The Little Mermaid never satisfactorily solved the problem of depicting undersea movement on stage. On the other hand, Mary Poppins and Newsies quite successfully expanded on their film versions while still maintaining the vitality and spirit of the originals.

Disney taking on the job of adapting this film for the stage has great potential for success as well as failure, so here is what I feel is most promising and most concerning.

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Theatre Thursdays: Notre-Dame de Paris in English

All right, I know I’ve been writing about this show for a while, but I figured since I’ve done two character studies I may as well go all out and just discuss the show as a whole and how it has been received in different parts of the world. Since the production was such a success in France, it was quickly translated into English for productions to be mounted in Las Vegas and London’s West End. Neither production came close to replicating the success of the original, and there are various possible reasons for this. I’m going to look at what I feel to be the most likely of these reasons

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