Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Couch Potato: Unfortunate Events and Peculiar Children

I am going to talk about two book to screen adaptations of off-beat but popular books aimed at kids.

A Series of Unfortunate Events

This is a new screen adaptation of Lemony Snicket's children's series that Netflix fittingly premiered on Friday the 13th. We watched the first episode out of curiosity and ended up watching all eight episodes available, probably because each episode ends on a well-timed cliffhanger. I've never read the books nor have I seen the 2004 movie with Jim Carrey, so I only had vague idea of what the story is about.

The vibe of the series as Kid The Younger said, is a bit Addams Family-ish, with the wonderful dark sets and the deadpan grim humor. I loved the presence of Lemony Snicket (Patrick Warburton) as narrator introducing each episode, and Neil Patrick Harris has a blast as the villainous Count Olaf. I also appreciated the extra flourishes like show tunes written specifically for each episode. Just remembering those makes me laugh all over again.

It's very much aimed at children, and adults who remember being children, in that the series shows the world from the point of view of children. A friendly home is bright and colorful, a sinister one is truly dark and scary and never has any sunlight. The underlying theme of children not being listened to, and of abuse happening right under the noses of well-meaning adults, adds a dark note that keeps it thought-provoking for adult viewers. It's unusual to find a dark comedy that blends pathos and pluck, so I am glad that unlike the series theme song, I did not "look away, look away."

Season One is eight episodes, with two episodes per book, so it ends with book 4 in the 13 book series. If Netflix continues on to a second season, it should start with Book 5: The Austere Academy. In case you want to see a trailer, here is a one minute spot Netflix aired on TV that does not give too much away.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

This is another popular series that I haven't read. I won't lie, when I leafed through the photos of the book by Ransom Riggs once they repelled me, so I put it down. I thought it was horror, creepy horror, which I am quite picky about (that is, I like reading horror, but only if I trust the author, and I didn't know this one). But Kid the Younger said she was mildly interested, so we borrowed the dvd.

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children, the movie, is an adventure, and the fantastical parts are very brightly lit. It's more fantasy than horror. We enjoyed it. There is a possible time travel paradox that still has me confused. If you watch it I'd like to discuss that bit with you, so let me know.

I am inclined to read the books now.

How was your weekend?

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