In writing my next memoir I’ve often struggled with the adaptation. Cart before the horse. Oh, yes. But since I know it’s gonna happen, I might as well figure it out now. When you think of a cinematic experience and all its plot twists, you have to consider the experience of the audience. They get to know the quirks of your characters, their names and relationships, their particular ways of speaking. The audience becomes invested in these characters. Don’t show them to us if we’re not going to see them again! You need a story arc with one cast of characters, where ideally all of your characters change in some way by the completion of the work. If for example, I write about the Girl Scouts I mentored in Texas, and an audience gets to know each of these girls and how we interacted weekly, it would be odd to suddenly have me move from Texas to Florida then to New York, where I start another Girl Scout troop and we meet an entirely new cast of characters. Which is why I was so interested in learning from the adaptation of author Daniel Handler’s Lemony Snicket books.
A SERIES OF UNFORTUNATE EVENTS is now streaming on Netflix.
Disney movies all include elements of death. Drowning parents (Frozen), a shot mother (Bambi), a dead father (Cinderella). The fairy tales I read to my children included THE GALLOWS, pits where the lifeless bodies of condemned souls were left to hang. Children are drawn to darker events. It’s always been so.
In the imaginative, and yes, dark, Kids’ TV genre, Netflix presents an eight-episode adaptation of the first four of Daniel Handler’s popular Lemony Snicket books based on the orphaned Baudelaire children whose parents died in a fire.
Aside from how kindly and polite the Baudelaire children are (excellent role models for kids), one of the things I most love about this offbeat Netflix adaptation is the respect it gives to books and words. Literally, Daniel Handler’s books are adapted with this formulation: one book equals two episodes. So, Handler’s second book in the series is represented by episodes 3 and 4. As such, you won’t necessarily see the same characters in episode 4 that you’ve met in episode 1. Is this okay? Seriously, I want an answer. I’m guessing that since it’s a new form, this ability to binge-watch, we can present audiences with new forms of storytelling that don’t necessarily lend themselves to episodic TV or film.
Now, back to the joys of reading, of books, of Pinterest-worthy libraries with rolling ladders and leather-bound volumes. You’ll find them all in this adaptation. While kids benefit from vocabulary lessons, parents and children alike are charmed by the quirky peculiarities of the series’ characters. How, for example, does Justice Strauss (Joan Cusack) organize her library? “I do have a section on rashes. It’s right next to Chinese cars.”
COMING SOON TO MY LIVING ROOM, MY PHONE, MY iPAD (AND YOURS)
SANTA CLARITA DIET – February 3, 2017
In Santa Clarita Diet, Joel (Timothy Olyphant, Justified) and Sheila (Drew Barrymore, Blended) are husband and wife realtors leading vaguely discontented lives in the L.A. suburb of Santa Clarita with their teenaged daughter Abby (Liv Hewson), until Sheila goes through a dramatic change sending their lives down a road of death and destruction…but in a good way.
HOUSE OF CARDS – Season 5, May 30, 2017
The series’s Golden Globe® winning stars Kevin Spacey (as Francis Underwood) and Robin Wright (as Claire Underwood), whose characters have always been each other’s strongest allies, show cracks in their relationship.
SANDY WEXLER – April 14, 2017
Sandy Wexler (Adam Sandler) is a talent manager working in Los Angeles in the 1990s who diligently represents a group of eccentric clients on the fringes of show business. His single-minded devotion is put to the test when he falls in love with his newest client, Courtney Clarke (Academy Award® and Grammy® winner Jennifer Hudson), a tremendously talented singer who he discovers at an amusement park.
Count Olaf’s Dreadful Picks.
Only the most handsome, talented, brilliant man of all time could come up with a list this fantastic. Add these titles to your Netflix watch list or risk the most dreadful January yet.
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