An unrecognisable Neil Patrick Harris plays evil Count Olaf in this "darker" adaptation of the macabre children's novels
Netflix's eight-part drama series, said to be its most expensive production to date, is the latest attempt to adapt the much-loved novels about three wily orphans sent to live with a dastardly uncle intent on stealing their inheritance.
A Series of Unfortunate Events was turned into a film in 2004 starring Jim Carrey, but had modest success. Its critics said it took too light-hearted a tone to the often slyly macabre material.
Netflix's series, however, is written and produced by Daniel Handler - Lemony Snicket himself, who penned the original 13 novels.
The trailer sees the children, newly orphaned, arriving at their sinister uncle's creepy house.
Here's what you need to know.
Who's in it?
The series stars an almost unrecognisable Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother) as the evil uncle Count Olaf – the role previously portrayed by Carrey. It also stars Malina Weissman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) as the oldest orphan, 14-year-old Violet Baudelaire, and Louis Hynes as her 12-year-old brother, Klaus.
Joan Cusack appears as Justice Strauss and Aasif Mandvi plays Uncle Monty. Patrick Warburton (Rules of Engagement, Seinfeld) narrates events as Lemony Snicket.
What's it about?
After the deaths of their parents in a mysterious fire, Violet, Klaus and their infant sister Sunny are placed in the custody of their uncle, who has designs on their inheritance and orchestrates numerous life-threatening plots to stop them fleeing his clutches.
The children, however, are blessed with keen intuition, resourcefulness and superior problem-solving skills. As the series progresses, the Baudelaires also become aware of a secret society known as VFD, which has connections to both Olaf and their parents and offers answers about their past. Each book will take two episodes, with the initial season covering the first four books.
Is it just for children?
Series director Barry Sonnenfeld is the master of "kooky joys" such as The Addams Family, which appealed to both children and adults, writes Phil De Semlyen at Empire.
For adult viewers who enjoyed the "gothic creepiness" of the 2004 film, "this one looks like offering more of the same", he adds.
Leading man Harris, meanwhile, says the new adaptation is "a much darker take on the series" than Carrey's version.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events airs on Netflix globally on 13 January 2017.
This article was from The Week and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.