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A Series of Unfortunate Events: How Bad is Netflix’s Count Olaf

Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is premiering this Jan. 13. Based on the book series by Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler), anticipation is already running awfully high for long-time fans. The show will follow the Baudelaire children as they try to outwit and escape their guardian Count Olaf, who is intent on stealing their late parents’ fortune.

While the series focuses on the orphans, portrayed by Malina Weissman, Louis Hynes and Presley Smith, everyone knows that Count Olaf remains the star of the show. With Neil Patrick Harris on board to play the nefarious villain, expectations are through the roof.

A Bad, Bad Person

While A Series of Unfortunate Events certainly forms a bleak narrative for the Baudelaires, the series is also known for its humor. Yes, houses burn down, guardians meet misfortunes, and children are kidnapped. But interspersing these events? A baby climbs a wall with her teeth, and no one but the orphans recognize a grown up man dressed up as a woman. The way the events get so ridiculous has given them a flavor that few other book series can match.

But while Neil Patrick Harris certainly followed the script to convey the same type of dark humor, he certainly didn’t want to lose the dark aspect of it. “I really wanted Olaf to be bad, to be a bad person,” he said, in an interview with Mashable. “Cause otherwise I don’t think it justifies (the Baudelaires’) constant fear of him.”

The series will be able to squeeze in more of the book’s material than the 2004 movie could. That means fans will see more of the nastiness that Olaf, as a character, was designed with. The trailer portrays him in some comical moments, of course. For instance, he threatens the children, in classic villain fashion, with a sandglass… only to realize with embarrassment that it wasn’t big enough for his purposes. But this is also a man who, in the books, would hit children in the face and orchestrate murders.

“I was just trying to be awful, like distinctly mean, and then let the levity of the situation inform the takeaway from the viewer,” Harris said.

Darkly Beautiful Sets

The astounding scenery – no matter how bleak they come off as – remains a signature of the books. As such, the sets for Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events also promise to be darkly beautiful. In the trailer, we catch glimpses of the greenhouse from The Reptile Room and the lake house from The Wide Window. The sets, praised by Neil Patrick Harris, were done by production designer Bo Welch.

Who else do you expect walking those sets as the misfortunate collapses all around? The series will co-star Joan Cusack as Justice Strauss, Aasif Mandvi as Uncle Monty, and Alfre Woodard as Aunt Josephine. Dylan Kingwell and Avi Lake will play the Quagmire twins, who were absent in the 2004 film. Patrick Warburton will play Lemony Snicket as a pseudo-narrator of the series. Excited to see how bad A Series of Unfortunate Events is? Hit us with your thoughts below!

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