New series grabs viewers

By Hayden Perkins

What seems to be a successful formula for the “Harry Potter” series, the “Hunger Games” series and “Game of Thrones” is capturing the flavor of the story. In the case of “A Series of Unfortunate Events” on Netflix, just about every component makes this show an exotic, five-star feast of oddity, drama and humor.

The series follows the lives of the three Baudelaire orphans, Violet, played by Malina Weissman, Sunny, played by Presley Smith and Klaus, played by Louis Hynes. The plot is centered around their adventures as the children are passed from one guardian to another with the vile Count Olaf, played by Neil Patrick Harris, always hot on their trail.

Count Olaf is after the immense fortune left to the orphans following their parents’ untimely death, the only stipulation being that the three children cannot acquire it themselves until Violet is 18.

The children are the stars of this odd mix of dark humor and surprising twists, but Harris’s portrayal of Count Olaf steals the show with his outlandishly awful accents and goofy costumes.

Jim Carrey’s earlier portrayal of the villain in the 2004 film brought the insanity that motivated Olaf well, but contrasts with Harris’s concoction of abstract villainy and pride. While the two performances use similar methods of storytelling, they capture the character in different ways. Located somewhere in between characters such as Dr. Horrible of “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog” and Barney Stinson of “How I Met Your Mother,” Harris’s talent really allows Olaf to shine.

However, the easy takeaway from the show is that Harris’s performance greatly overshadows the true gem of it: the setting. The color scheme is vibrant and nebulous, directly contrasting the dastardly murderers on the hunt for the children, constantly shifting from one palette to another as the locations change. From a dark, gross manor, viewers swing to a beautiful, lush greenhouse and then forward to a somber, quiet, oceanside shack.

With its strange mixture of humor and sadness, the regular swell of hope and consistently changing color scheme help make this a classic and an absolute must-binge. The show follows some common themes such as the good versus evil debate as well as themes of wit and courage, but its heart lies within the dichotomy between the horrible villains and the bright, compassionate kids, doing battle in a world of colors that directly reflects the actors on screen.