Monday, January 28, 2019

Look Away

So I've been busy lately and I keep getting colds, so I'm not in the mood (and don't have the brain power) to write anything profound, so I'm going to talk A Series of Unfortunate Events. Because we just finished watching it, and it's one of the things on my brain these days. Spoilers ahead.

I would have loved these books as a kid. Unfortunately, I didn't read them until I was an adult. Actually, though, I listened to most of them. I love audiobooks. And I love the Netflix show too*. The movie...not so much. It was too dark, besides the fact that they just didn't have time to tell the whole story. I mean, ASOUE is dark, but dark to be satirical.

I've always loved orphan stories, ever since I was a little girl seeing Annie for the first time. How could I not love ASOUE? I love that it's an orphan story. I love that it's a sibling story. I love that it's a mystery, though the VFD mystery doesn't become a big deal until about halfway through in the books.

I love how it's dark and hilarious at the same time. It's ridiculous, to the point of not being able to take it seriously, but the show takes itself seriously—Princess Bride style—so that it is funny. And all the VFDs. XD Vernacularly Fastened Door. Very Fresh Dill. Verbal Fridge Dialogue. Very Fancy Doilies. Village of Fowl Devotees. Volunteers Fighting Disease. Volunteer Feline Detectives. And of course, the real VFD, the secret organization called...the Volunteer Fire Department. Devoted to putting out the literal and figurative fires in the world. Only Count Olaf can't ever remember the difference between literal and figurative. But the Baudelaires can because they're very smart and read lots of books.

I love the characters. Obviously Violet, Klaus, and Sunny. I love how good Violet is at inventing, how good a researcher Klaus is, how good at biting Sunny is...and later at cooking. Some of the best things are the translations of what Sunny says. That baby! And isn't she just about the most adorable thing ever? Because obviously, no matter what she says, Carmelita Spatts is not adorable. But Sunny absolutely is.

And I love the Quagmires. Especially Quigley of course. Quigley's the best. I only wish the show told us what happened to the Quagmires later. It's a little better in the show, because in the books, the Quagmires get attacked by the Great Unknown, and you don't know for sure if they managed to survive it. Headcanon they did. In the show, you see Quigley joining his siblings on Hector's self-sustaining hot air mobile home, and nothing else afterwards. In neither case do we get an answer to the question all fans have: Do Violet and Quigley see each other again?

Count Olaf is...interesting. Neil Patrick Harris did a fabulous job playing him. He's such a balance, because you have to believe that he's willing to kill the Baudelaires—and that he did kill Uncle Monty, Aunt Josephine, Jacques Snicket, etc.—but his stupidity and utter ridiculousness has to be believable at the same time. Neil Patrick Harris totally pulled it off. (And as a side note, my family has actually seen him in person. He was our Candlelight Processional narrator at Walt Disney World way back.) And Olaf's disguises. Stefano, the herpetologist's assistant. Captain Sham, the sea captain. Shirley, the optometrist's receptionist. Coach Genghis, the P.E. teacher who wears a turban. Gunther, a very handsome, foreign man. Oh, Olaf. XD

Then there's Lemony Snicket. He's the author('s penname), but a character and a literary device. Patrick Warburton was the perfect choice for Lemony Snicket. I love the way they handled the narration in the show. Lemony Snicket is there onscreen, but not usually in the same time frame as the Baudelaires, narrating events, so often using narration from the book. And oh, how I love the narration.
 “Wicked people never have time for reading. It's one of the reasons for their wickedness.”
 “People aren't either wicked or noble. They're like chef's salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict.”
“If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats.”
"‘Austere’ - a word which here means that Mr. Remora’s stories were particularly boring, Mrs. Bass’ obsession with the metric system was particularly irritating, and Nero’s administrative demands were particularly difficult."
"The expression “following suit” is a curious one, because it had nothing to do with walking behind a matching set of clothing. If you follow suit, it means you do the same thing somebody else has just done. If all your friends decided to jump off a bridge into the icy waters of an ocean or river, for instance, and you jumped in right after them, you would be following suit. You can see why following suit can be a dangerous thing to do, because you could end up drowning simply because somebody else thought of it first."
Though I can't say I love that it ends rather inconclusively. But that's a stylistic choice that's in keeping with the rest of the series, so any other way wouldn't exactly fit. Still, I want to know what happened to them later.

I love how well the show follows the books. It tells the whole story fairly accurately, but deepening the VFD plot and introducing it much sooner. I just don't like how nobody gets the end of The Reptile Room right (it was better in the book), and they changed event that was the second reason The Slippery Slope was my favorite book and part of the reason I wrote this post. But my other reason it's my favorite is Quigley, so...

I love how things aren't black and white. There's definite right and wrong, but sometimes it's hard to tell. You never purposely perform a villainous act. The Baudelaires and Quigley determined that in the book of The Slippery Slope. But there are times when you're faced with two bad options and you have to choose one of them. Like burning down a hotel so maybe people can escape or letting Count Olaf definitely kill them all with the Medusoid Mycelium. Sometimes you'll make a bad choice that you'll later regret, but you still have to choose. And when stories deal with deep stuff like that, they're certainly not fluff. I love deep children's stories.

There's so much I love about A Series of Unfortunate Events. It's a great story, and I'm so glad I finally discovered it.

*I don't love the gay references—all that could be considered such in the books is the subtle implication that Charles and Sir might possibly be together—but it was minor. Like Larry-Your-Waiter making some random comment about his "mothers" kind of thing. Easy to miss. Everyone with a significant other on the show (with the possible exception of Charles and Sir) is straight.

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