A Series of Unfortunate Reviews, The Bad Beginning – The Dom

The Dom returns to his least favourite series of books to see if Netflix did a better job of adapting them to screen.

About The Dom

Reviewer of games, TV shows and movies. The Dom also likes to look at film adaptations of books and talk about what got lost transitioning from page to screen.


  1. First of all, thank you for doing this review 🙂 Personally i do see a lot of your points, but still enjoy the show. As for Neil as Olaf, i think he does a great job, he is kind of doing what Jim Carry did by being comical but he is adding more to it. (I have seen the whole show). The first two episodes can be hard to get into depending on how you view it, personally it’s more for nostalgia and curiosity at what their plans are for it. Yes some “adults” (cough) Poe (cough) i really couldn’t stand but kept watching becasue of some of the other positive things about it. I found myself as i was watching the show saying “oh yeah that happened in the books!” As for the elephant in the room i implore you PLEASE keep watching! I thought the exact same thing! Looking forward to future reviews 🙂

  2. Well, crap. I read every single book (even the sidebooks/journals) and saw the original movie but I don’t have Netflix. I’m really tempted to get Netflix just to see this… maybe. I liked the books because I had an awful childhood and reading these books made me feel better/forget about my own life. ^.^

    • I also loved this series when I was in my teens. Of course it has been some years since I’ve revisited it, but it was a bit of an obsession of mine when I was younger. By the sounds of things I would really like this series. I don’t have Netflix either mind you. I’ll have to remedy that.

      A Tim Burton-esque style actually sounds ideal. I’ll have to reserve my judgement for when I finally see this show but the books are equal parts dark and comedic, and the period of the setting sounds somewhat like an early post-modern steampunk as it has cars co-existing with horse drawn carriages, and also clothing styles reminiscent of the 1920s (I think), but also some impressive technology that’s modern or sometimes even semi-futuristic sounding. Something like that would be hard to adapt into a visual medium, but Tim Burton films have pulled off equally stylized settings, so they’re probably the most ideal thing for Netflix to rip off.

  3. I remember as a child starting this series half way through and then feeling disappointed with the first book. The humour and absurdity that balanced out the tragedy simply hadn’t been developed. I think Handler (who is writer and executive-producer) is trying to make up for that here.

    That said apparently he got quite a few letters from actual orphans when it first came out who felt comforted by the descriptions of emotional pain fading without ever disappearing.

  4. I really couldn’t get into the books either, mostly because I never got the idea that Count Olaf was the criminal mastermind the book was portraying him as. To me it seemed more like that Count Olaf was successful because everybody in this particular universe, aside from the orphans themselves, were complete imbeciles. When the villain and the heroes are the only intelligent people in existence, well that’s just bad writing.

  5. I got a serious Tim Burton vibe from the film, don’t know about the books, never read them (though I may do so at some point) but the front covers look Burtonesque.
    Also, love the Ace Rimmer t-shirt. 🙂

  6. Well, I’ve finally seen the first two episodes of this series and…yeah, I think it’s a great adaptation. I just have some nitpicky issues here and there, mostly actor related. Yeah, Lemony Snicket isn’t how I pictured him either, and I agree that Justice Strauss is overbearing about wanting children in this series. I don’t recall the powder faced women being that old and while the androgynous henchman is sufficiently androgynous that goes out the window the second he speaks, and he looks a little too masculine regardless, though that is a tough character to cast.

    I have no issue with the Poes being black in this version, and I believe the hook handed man was black in both adaptations, but I understand wanting to add ethnic diversity to a series that’s about as white as Swift Current Saskatchewan. What I do have issue with is that the Poes are portrayed as just awful people. The sons were always that, but Mr. Poe doesn’t sound sorry at all about the fire at the Baudelaire estate and Mrs. Poe especially seems out of character, though upon further reflection I think she represents two characters as Geraldine Julienne is the enthusiastic Daily Punctilio reporter in the books(and I don’t think she’s in the earlier books).

    Neil Patrick Harris is great as Olaf though and I have no issues with the casting for the orphans. The aesthetic is just fine all things considered. As I said in my other post the setting is difficult to truly nail, but I think the show does a fine job. A couple scenes feel a tad rushed and the added scenes are just alright for me, but eh. I could nitpick that Violet’s grappling hook was supposed to catch on Hooky’s hook, or even more that the scene where she imagines life as Olaf’s wife was cut, but eh…overall this adaptation seems to satisfy me just fine for the most part, and I used to be downright obsessed with this series, hence why even many years later I still feel like analyzing every detail with a fine toothed comb.

    I’m also a tad iffy about the parents supposedly being alive in this show, but then again no bodies were found in the remains of the Baudelaire mansion. However, there was never any evidence that they were alive in the books and if they were they would probably have shown up by The End. However, I’m also intrigued by what the show does with them so I’ll at least give it a chance.

  7. I thought the series was OK. Not great. Bujt I enjoyed Olaf and the Burton-esque visuals. I definitelt disagree about the kids performances though, I thought they were both really good.

  8. Daniel Brizuela

    Loved the books, still do. Though after seeing the show I came to realize that the books are dark comedies. It explains a lot about them, but still enjoyed them.

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