Review: A Series of Unfortunate Events Season 1 Episode 3 “The Reptile Room: Part One”

The show’s zany, self-aware, campy tone feels more at home in this episode, as Handler does a better job at fusing it with story and humour. Instead of being forced into the context, it comes naturally, with the new setting allowing for more extravagant situations and then reflection within the narration, which does break up sequences nicely. Mandvi does great work here as Uncle Monty, but the figure’s characterisation becomes muddled, split between hopelessly incompetent and astoundingly astute, in a manner that is odd even within this show. I also still have problems with Neil Patrick Harris, who excels with Olaf’s comedic timing and ‘intellectual awkwardness’ (by which I mean Olaf obviously has some smarts but is unable to execute upon it), but fails in creating threat and suspense. His sequences therefore become cloddish, never inspiring the absurdist fear they should. Any scene with Olaf and the trio of children, who still act stiff and bored, lacks gravitas and potency, and often feels like a slice of sketch comedy. While I understand the show’s overall structure and adaptation of the books, I do hope not every ‘Part One’ is simply set up. 7.2/10

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