TV vs. Film: Comparing the Mediums

Written by Patrick Guilford

The atmosphere and tone of both the film and the television show differ extremely. While the film goes for more of a Tim Burton-esque vibe, the television adaptation focuses on the anachronistic nature of the books. Neither seem to merge these two aspects together, something that the books did with ease.

However, the television series captures the sense of cluelessness within the books better than the movie. One of the main problems fans had with the film was that a lot of the adult characters were smarter than their book counterparts. This meant that a lot of the conflict within the movie could’ve been avoided if the adults simply thought harder. The TV show characters, on the other hand, are just as idiotic as their book counterparts, adding a sense of hopelessness to the struggles of the Baudelaire Children.

One of the major differences between the movie, TV show, and books stems from Count Olaf himself. In regards to playing the comedic foil, Neil Patrick Harris captures his sadistic nature better than Jim Carrey’s slapstick performance. Unfortunately, both failed to really grasp the brooding mood that surrounded the character. Sure, he had one-liners and disguises that were purposefully goofy, but there was still an overwhelming sense of danger that the performances seemed to catch on. Count Olaf was a magnificent bastard first, comedic foil second. This seems to be less of a problem of adaptation, as much as it is dealing with the medium.

The genius of the books was that the comedy came from the sly passages and allusions that were meant to either ridicule or to subtlety lighten the mood. However, with TV and film being a visual medium, these passages come to the forefront. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but these two visual mediums became different beasts altogether.

Neil Patrick Harris or Jim Carrey as Count Olaf?

Written by Scarlett Ruggiero

 This is a tough choice. On one hand, we have the comical legend, the guy who made so many epic films, including the Ace Ventura series. On the other hand, we have the new funny guy of our generation, the actor who brought Barney Stinson’s unique personality to life in How I Met Your Mother. Two amazing actors that make viewers ask the same question, “Are they really playing, or are they just being themselves?”

One thing that recurs about Jim Carrey is that he is just playing himself in most of this movie. “It’s just Jim Carrey being Jim Carrey.” And even though this usually works, Jim Carrey’s interpretations tend to be the same in most of his movies.

Although Barney Stinson’s interpretation made Harris famous, I feel viewers find too much of Stinson’s mimic and sometimes humor in Harris’s interpretation of Count Olaf.

Carrey only had an hour and thirty minutes and Harris had an entire season, but the character of Count Olaf stays very similar in both interpretations: cruel, smart and stupid at the same time. Did we mention fun?

Meryl Streep or Alfre Woodard as Aunt Josephine?

 

Even if Woodard gives us a pretty good interpretation of Josephine, it is very hard to compare her to the American legend, Meryl Streep. Streep gave the spectators a quite different interpretation of Josephine’s fearful behavior. Again, Woodard had the time to showcase her version of Josephine but left me unconvinced. Cameron Tucker from Modern Family said it best, “Meryl Streep could play Batman and be the right choice.”

It is just too hard to follow Meryl Streep in any role. Everything Streep has played becomes a reference to other actors.

What Streep adds, in contrary of Woodard, is a real kindness to Josephine’s character. Yes, she is scared of everything and completely crazy, but Streep made her lovable, so much so that viewers feel sorry when Josephine dies. I was not sorry to see Woodard’s Josephine die, because the show portrayed her as crazy, scared, and showing little concern for the children.

Lemony Snicket, the narrator

There are two different storytelling styles employed for the show and the movie. The movie’s Lemony Snicket, played by Jude Law, had a darker presence and focused on the sadness of the Baudelaire’s faith. In the show, Snicket reappears throughout the episodes and mixed the sadness of the Baudelaire’s story and humor in a very entertaining way. Both Snickets seem to work well and bring viewers a refreshing and different storytelling that hasn’t been filmed before.

The books are available at most major bookstores and Amazon. Catch the show on Netflix or the movie on Amazon.