REVIEW: THE TICK (2001)

Space-Squad-Benikiba-Mad-Gallant

 

MAIN CAST

Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
David Burke (Joan of Arcadia)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Nestor Carbonell (Bates Motel)Space-Squad-Benikiba-Mad-Gallant

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lloyd (Piranha)
T.J. Thyne (Bones)
Sam McMurray (Addams Family Values)
Maury Ginsberg (Vinyl)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Missi Pyle (Gone Girl)
Kurt Fuller (Ghostbusters 2)
Lori Alan Family Guy0
Armin Shimerman (Star Trek: DS9)

tik-gerojEdlund first published the adventures of the Tick in a black-and-white comic book that gathered a cult following. Somehow, he got the attention of Fox’s animation studios, and his rather mature story—about an insanely strong, decidedly off-balanced escapee from a mental institution living in a world packed with obscure superheroes and bizarre villains (Chairface Chippendale, the Chainsaw Vigilante, the terrifying District Manager)—into a slightly less offensive, even funnier Saturday morning cartoon. The animated Tick lasted three seasons, and the adventures of Tick and his sidekick Arthur  and their battles against villains like the Eastern Bloc Robot Cowboy, the Guy with Ears Like Little Raisins, and Joseph Stalin, were all that got me up on weekend mornings. 1457674447338But Fox ruined things by trying to turn the show from a cult hit into a mainstream entertainment and they soon cancelled it. Then, five years later, a brief bout of insanity overtook the Fox executives and they commissioned a live-action version of the large, blue, polysyllabic hero. Bringing Tick into the real world without screwing it up would require finesse, and luckily Fox allowed Edlund a ton of creative input. And despite some changes, including the substitution of the comic’s sidekicks with new characters Captain Liberty (Liz Vassey) and Spanish lothario Batmanuel (Nestor Carbonell), the live-action version is surprisingly faithful to both the original incarnation and the cartoon series. A large measure of credit goes to star Patrick Warburton and David Burke, a pitch-perfect pair of Tick and moth. Warburton in particular captures his character’s blend of big-hearted hero and moron.1457674447338Of course, it isn’t perfect. It’s a low-budget series, and you can tell—the Tick’s costume (complete with motorized antenna)—looks great, but the rest of the set dressing looks rather cheap. And these first nine episodes are somewhat hit or miss, only occasionally scoring as consistently as the animated series. On the plus side, the show’s late-night time slot and intended adult audience meant the plots could be a bit more mature and subversive. Standouts include Arthur, Interrupted, in which Arthur comes out of the superhero closet to his family and is thrown into a “deprogramming facility” run by guest star Dave Foley; The Terror, in which the Tick faces the dastardly, 115-year-old villain, The Terror (Armin Shimerman); and the heroic duo’s acceptance into a smarmy, elitist superhero team in The Big Leaguestickep4Unfortunately, after bankrolling the series, Fox apparently decided they had made a series no one would watch, so they shelved it for a year. Then they slotted in on Thursdays against Survivor and Friends, pre-empted it so often it took three months to air eight episodes, showed everything out of order, and ended the show without airing the ninth and final episode (which was supposed to be episode three anyway). Even the clout of executive producer Barry Sonnenfeld couldn’t keep it on the air.tick+1If only more comic fans had committed to a show that actually did everything they’d asked… Fortunately, the American dvd gave fans the chance to relive this short lived show. thankfully the amazon revival has brought the Tick back in a form, but fans of the character should check out first attempt of a live action Tick.

 

 

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REVIEW: HAPPILY N’EVER AFTER

 

CAST

Sarah Michelle Gellar (Cruel Intentions)
Freddie Prinze, Jr. (Scooby-Doo)
Andy Dick (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
George Carlin (Dogma)
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Michael McShane (Office Space)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Tom Kenny (The Super Squad Show)
Kath Soucie (Rugrats)
Tress MacNeille (The SImpsons)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)

The story begins with the idea that the Wizard (George Carlin) controls all of the fairy tales and maintains the balance of good and evil in Fairy Tale Land. With the help of his assistants the uptight Munk (Wallace Shawn) and the decidedly goofy Mambo (Andy Dick), the Wizard is checking to make sure that all the fairy tales under his care are “on track” to have their traditional happy endings. As we meet him however, the Wizard is leaving for Scotland for a long-overdue vacation. He leaves the kingdom in the hands of Munk and Mambo.Ella is a girl who is better known as Cinderella (Sarah Michelle Gellar). She lives as a servant to her step family, dreams of the Prince (Patrick Warburton) who will sweep her off her feet. Her best friend at the palace is Rick (Freddie Prinze, Jr.), the palace dishwasher. Rick takes it upon himself to deliver the invitations to the royal ball to Ella. Ella sees Rick only as a friend, but Rick secretly loves Ella, although he is too cool and proud to admit it. Rick can’t really understand what Ella likes about the Prince. Rick’s Three Amigos, the comic chefs (all voiced by Phil Proctor, Rob Paulsen and Tom Kenny) in the palace kitchen, believe that Rick has a bad case of “Prince envy”. The Prince does everything by the book, and plans to meet his maiden at the ball.However, things don’t go as planned at the ball. Thanks to the assistants, Ella’s evil stepmother, Frieda (Sigourney Weaver) gains access to the Wizard’s lair during the Prince’s ball. She manages to chase off Munk and Mambo and tip the scales of good and evil, causing a series of fairy tales to go wrong and have unhappy endings, including Jack getting stepped on by the Giant (John DiMaggio) yet surviving, Rumpelstiltskin (Michael McShane) winning his bet with the miller’s daughter (Jill Talley) and taking her baby, and the unseen demise of Little Red Riding Hood. She summons an army of Trolls, witches (Tress MacNeille and Jill Talley), three Big Bad Wolves (Jon Polito and Tom Kenny), the Giant (John DiMaggio), and Rumpelstiltskin to her castle. Ella finds out and escapes to the woods where she meets Munk and Mambo. The trio set out to find the prince who has goes looking for his maiden (not knowing it was actually Ella) in hopes that he will defeat Frieda and save the day.Together, they flee to the Seven Dwarfs (all played by Tom Kenny and John DiMaggio) home. Witches and trolls led by The Ice Queen attack them. The Seven Dwarfs hold off the trolls, while they flee with the help of Rick who had stolen a flying broom. Frieda decides to go after Ella herself. She succeeds in capturing her and returns to the palace, with Rick, Munk and Mambo in pursuit. Frieda tortures Ella because if the story had run its course she would have married the prince while Frieda would never get anywhere in life. Rick, Munk, and Mambo slip into the castle and attack Frieda. During the fight, Frieda generates a pit in the floor. Mambo knocks her in, but she uses her staff to fly back up again. After a short battle, in which Rick takes a blast meant for Ella and falls into a deep sleep, Frieda creates a portal by accident. Ella knocks Frieda back and punches her into the portal. Rick awakes from the spell and he and Ella kiss, finally admitting their feelings for each other.Ella and her true love Rick decide to choose their destinies in a world of happy endings and get married. Rumpelstiltskin has shown throughout the movie that he has come to care for the baby and the miller’s daughter lets him stay in the castle as the baby’s nanny. The Wizard returns from vacation where he wasn’t told about what happened while he was away. In the final scene, Frieda is shown trapped in the Arctic surrounded by elephant seals.In an animated movie where fairy tale characters run amok, the movie coasts along without much madness infused. But definitely easy enough for its intended target audience – the children – to understand and enjoy.

REVIEW: MEN IN BLACK 2

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Tommy Lee Jones (Batman Forever)
Rip Torn (Robocop 3)
Lara Flynn Boyle (Afterglow)
Johnny Knoxville (The Ringer)
Rosario Dawson (Daredevil)
Tony Shalhoub (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Patrick Warburton (Get Smart)
Jack Kehler (The Big Lebowski)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Colombe Jacobsen (Chef)
Michael Jackson (The Simpsons)
Martha Stewart (2 Broke Girls)
Peter Graves (Airplane)
Lenny Venito (The Neighbors)
Doug Jones (Hellboy)

Five years after the retirement of Agent K (Jones) from MIB, the secret New York City-based agency that monitors and regulates extraterrestrials residing on Earth, Agent J (Smith)—K’s former partner and hand-picked replacement—is called to investigate the murder of an alien, Ben (Jack Kehler), at his pizzeria. The waitress, Laura Vasquez (Rosario Dawson), tells him that the murderers were Serleena (Lara Flynn Boyle), a shapeshifting Kylothian who has taken the form of a lingerie model, and her two-headed servant Scrad (Johnny Knoxville). Laura says they were looking for something called the Light of Zartha. J is strongly attracted to Laura, and in violation of MIB rules, does not neuralyze her to erase her memories of the aliens—and of him.J finds that little is known about the Light of Zartha, except that it is immensely powerful. As he investigates the crime, every lead points to his mentor, Agent K—who was neuralyzed when he retired, and remembers nothing of his MIB service. In Truro, Massachusetts, where K is now the town’s postmaster, J explains this, and convinces him by proving that all of his fellow postal workers are aliens. Back in New York City, Serleena and Scrad launch an attack on MIB headquarters before K’s neuralyzation can be reversed; fortunately, Jack Jeebs (Tony Shalhoub) has an illegal deneuralyzer in his basement. K regains his memories, but it’s not enough: Years before, he neuralyzed himself, specifically to erase what he knew of the Light of Zartha, and those memories have not returned—but as a precaution, he left himself a series of clues.At the pizzeria, they find a locker key. J hides Laura, who fears for her safety, with the worm aliens from the first movie. The key opens a locker in Grand Central Station where a society of tiny aliens, who worship K as their deity, guard their most sacred relics: K’s wristwatch and video store membership card. K recovers both, to the aliens’ horror, but J gives them his watch as a replacement, and becomes their new deity. At the video store, as J and K watch a fictionalized story of the Light of Zartha, K remembers: The Zarthan Queen Laurana long ago entrusted MIB with safeguarding the Light from her nemesis, Serleena, who followed Laurana to Earth and killed her. After hiding the Light, K neuralyzed himself to ensure that he would never reveal its hiding place. K still cannot remember where he hid it, nor what the Light actually looks like; he does remember that it must return to Zartha soon, or both Earth and Zartha will be destroyed.At the worms’ apartment, they find that Laura has been kidnapped by Serleena, who believes that Laura’s bracelet is the Light. J, K, and the worms counterattack MIB headquarters, freeing Laura and the other agents. Serleena attempts to retaliate but is eaten by Jeff, a gigantic worm alien living in the New York Subway. Laura’s bracelet leads J and K to the roof of a skyscraper where a ship stands ready to transport the Light back to Zartha. At last, they realize why it rains whenever Laura is sad: she is the daughter of Laurana—and is herself the Light. K convinces J and Laura that she must go to Zartha, to save both her planet and Earth from destruction. Serleena, who has assimilated Jeff and taken his form, attempts to snatch the ship carrying Laura as it lifts off, but J and K blast her out of the sky. Since all of New York City has just witnessed this battle in the skies over the metropolis, K initiates a giant neuralyzer in the torch of the Statue of Liberty.Back at headquarters, K and MIB Chief Zed (Rip Torn), hoping to cheer up a heartbroken J, have relocated the tiny locker-dwelling aliens who worship him to his MIB locker. When J suggests showing the miniature creatures that their universe is bigger than a locker, K shows J that the human universe is itself a locker within an immense alien train station.Men in Black 2 is not fantastic as the first movie, but it is a good and entertaining movie to be watched anyway

REVIEW: TED 2

CAST

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys)
Amanda Seyfried (Pan)
Jessica Barth (Next)
Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar)
Morgan Freeman (The Dark Knight)
John Slattery (Mad men)
Patrick Warburton (Get Smart)
Michael Dorn (Star Trek: Ds9)
Bill Smitrovich (The Phantom)
Cocoa Brown (Big Fat Important Movie)
John Carroll Lynch (The Founder)
Jessica Szohr (Love Bite)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Sebastian Arcelus (Split)
Dennis Haysbert (Heat)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Patrick Stewart (Ameircan Dad)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: Ds9)
Ralph Garman (The Lego Batman Movie)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Maggie Geha (Gotham)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)

John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) has been divorced from Lori Collins for six months. Meanwhile, his best friend Ted (Seth MacFarlane), marries his girlfriend, Tami-Lynn (Jessica Barth). One year later, with their marriage is beginning to break-down so they decide to have a child. As Ted can not have children, John agrees to help Ted find a sperm donor, They asked Sam J. Jones but he refuses due to a low sperm count, they try unsuccessfully to break into Tom Brady’s house and steal his sperm. Ultimately, John offers to donate his sperm.Despite Ted and John’s efforts, Tami-Lynn’s historical drug use has rendered her infertile and the couple decide to adopt. As background checks are carried out, Ted brings his legal status as a person into question. The state authorities of Massachusetts declare Ted property rather than a person, resulting in the loss of his job at a grocery store – shortly after reassuring a customer (Liam Neeson) that buying a box of Trix, as an adult, will not bring him to any harm. Furthermore, his marriage to Tami-Lynn is annulled.John suggests that they take the state to court, and their case is assigned to a novice lawyer pro-bono, Samantha Leslie Jackson (Amanda Seyfried). The three bond over their love of marijuana as they prepare to present the case.Meanwhile, Donny (Giovanni Ribisi), Ted’s life-long stalker and would-be abductor, is now employed as a janitor at the headquarters of toy company Hasbro, in New York City. He convinces the company CEO to hire an expert attorney (John Slattery) to ensure that Ted maintains his status as property, therefore leaving him open to seizure by the firm to create more living teddy bears.Despite Samantha’s best efforts, the court rules against Ted. Disheartened but desperate, the trio contact Patrick Meighan (Morgan Freeman), a highly respected civil rights attorney, hoping he’ll take the case and overturn the court’s decision. Driving to Manhattan to meet him, Ted crashes into a hidden marijuana patch, where Samantha and John realize their attraction for each other. The next day, the trio meet Meighan, who is sympathetic to Ted’s plight but ultimately refuses the case, as he believes he has not significantly contributed to humanity due to his juvenile slacker lifestyle.Ted, angry at the injustice and jealous of Samantha and John’s new relationship, runs off. Donny follows him as he wanders into the New York Comic-Con. Once inside, Donny attempts to kidnap Ted, who flees and contacts John for help. John and Samantha arrive at Comic-Con and search for Ted, arriving as Donny is about to cut him open. As they make their escape, Donny cuts the cables holding up a model of the USS Enterprise and it swings towards Ted. John pushes Ted out of the way, takes the hit, and is knocked unconscious. Ted identifies Donny and he is arrested.At the hospital, Samantha, Ted and Tami-Lynn rejoice when John recovers. Patrick Meighan decides to take the case, telling them he has been inspired by John’s selflessness and Ted’s emotions over his fallen friend. Meighan gets the ruling overturned by demonstrating that Ted is self-aware, that he feels complex emotions, and is capable of empathy. Outside the court, Ted re-proposes to Tami-Lynn. After they are re-married, Ted and Tami-Lynn, adopting the surname of “Clubberlang”, adopt a baby boy, whom they name Apollo Creed, while John and Samantha happily pursue their own relationship.A good laugh, even  better than the original in my opinion. If you like Ted/Family Guy/other Seth Macfarlane shows, I’d definitely recommend this

 

REVIEW: TED

CAST

Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Mark Wahlberg (The Other Guys)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Joel McHale (Spider-Man 2)
Giovanni Ribisi (Avatar)
Aedin Mincks (New Girl)
Patrick Warburton (Get Smart)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Matt Walsh (Semi-Pro)
Jessica Barth (Next)
Bill Smitrovich (The Phantom)
Alex Borstein (Family Guy)
Ralph Garman (Yoga Hosers)
Jessica Stroup (Prom Night)
Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon)
Ryan Reynolds (Buried)
Norah Jones (My Blueberry Nights)
Tom Skerritt (Alien)
Mike Henry (The Cleveland Show)
Robert Wu (Hot Tub Time Machine)
Ted Danson (The Good Place)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)

In 1985, 8-year-old John Bennett is a lonely child living in Norwood, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, who wished for his new Christmas gift—a jumbo teddy bear named Ted—to come to life and become his friend. The wish coincides with a shooting star and comes true; word spread and Ted was briefly a celebrity.27 years later, John (now 35) and Ted are still living in Boston, and are still staunch companions enjoying a hedonistic life. John is dating Lori Collins, who is from Philadelphia. As their anniversary approaches, Lori hopes to marry John but feels he could not move forward with Ted around. John is hesitant about making Ted leave, but he is persuaded to act when they find Ted at home with four prostitutes.John finds Ted his own apartment and a job at a grocery store, where Ted begins dating his coworker Tami-Lynn. Lori learns that John has been skipping work—using her as an excuse—to continue to spend most of his time with Ted. John and Lori are invited to a party put on by Lori’s womanizing manager Rex, but Ted lures John away to a party at his apartment with the offer to meet Sam J. Jones, the star of their favorite film, Flash Gordon. John intends to stay only a few minutes but gets caught up in the occasion. Lori finds John there and breaks up with him. John blames Ted for ruining his life and tells him to stay away.John and Ted confront each other about their ruined friendship and they fight but manage to reconcile. To repair John’s relationship with Lori, Ted arranges for an old lover, singer Norah Jones, to help by having John express his love for Lori with a song during her concert. He does an off-key rendition of All Time High by Rita Coolidge and is booed offstage. Lori is touched by the attempt and returns to her apartment where Ted confesses about his role in John’s relapse and offers to leave them alone forever if she talks to John.Lori is persuaded, but Ted is kidnapped by Donny, an obsessive stalker who idolized Ted as a child. Donny plans to make Ted his brutish son Robert’s toy. Ted manages to reach a phone to contact John but is immediately recaptured. Realizing Ted is in danger, John and Lori locate Donny’s residence and track him to rescue Ted. The chase leads to Fenway Park, where John punches Robert, but during the chase, Ted is damaged and falls onto the field ripped entirely in half. A police car arrives, forcing Donny to flee. John and Lori gather Ted’s stuffing and Ted relays his wish that John be happy with Lori before dying from his injuries.Unable to accept Ted’s death, a distraught John and Lori attempt to repair Ted, which proves useless. Feeling guilty about the incident, Lori makes a wish on a shooting star. The next morning, John hangs his head while looking over Ted’s dead body. Fortunately, Ted is magically restored and reconciles with John and Lori, encouraging them to resume their relationship. John and Lori are married (with Sam Jones as the presiding minister), and Ted comfortably accepts having a life of his own as he and Tami-Lynn continued their love affair. Sam Jones attempts to restart his career and moves into a studio apartment with Brandon Routh. Rex gives up his pursuit of Lori, goes into a deep depression, and dies of Lou Gehrig’s disease. Donny gets arrested by the Boston Police Department for kidnapping a plush toy, but charges are dropped. Robert hires a personal trainer, loses a significant amount of weight, and goes on to become Taylor Lautner.Comedies are hit and miss, or run out of steam towards the end. Ted, however, is not one of these and this is why it is probably one of the best and most original comedies I have ever seen. Perhaps the plot is fairly standard, but with the creator of Family Guy at the helm, things don’t always go the way you expect.

REVIEW: THE CLEVELAND SHOW – SEASON 1-4

MAIN CAST

Mike Henry (Family Guy)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Nia Long (Stigmata)
Reagan Gomez-Preston (Jerry Maguire)
Kevin Michael Richardson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012)
Jason Sudeikis (Son of Zorn)
Seth MacFarlane (Ted)
Jess Harnell (Animaniacs)
Arianna Huffington (Edtv)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
David Lynch (Twin Peaks)
Aseem Batra (Scrubs)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Alex Borstein (Faily Guy)
Fergie (Nine)
Seth Green (Idle Hands)
Corey Holcomb (The Wedding Ringer)
Mila Kunis (Bad Moms)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Patrick Warburton (Ted)
Kristen Bell (The Good Place)
Glenn Howerton (That 80s Show)
Nat Faxon (Reno 911)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Marina Sirtis (Star Trek: TNG)
Frances Callier  (He’s Just Not That Into You)
Craig Robinson (This Is The End)
Will Forte (The Lego Movie)
Stockhard Channing (The Business of Strangers)
Jane Lynch (Glee)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Josh Gad (Frozen)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Will Sasso (Movie 43)
Matthew Morrison (Glee)
Kanye West (Anchorman 2)
Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji)
Kit Pongetti (Scrubs)
Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures)
Keke Palmer (Scream Queens)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Emily Deschanel (Bones)
Lea Michele (Scream Queens)
Mike Judge (King of The Hill)
Quinton “Rampage” Jackson (The A-Team)
Rob Riggle (21 Jump Street)
Niecy Nash (scream Queens)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Carl Reiner (Two and a Half Men)
Amber Heard (Zombieland)
Cory Monteith (Glee)
Wilmer Valderrama (That 70s Show)
Vincent Katheiser (Angel)
Christine Lakin (Family Guy)
Justin Timberlake (The Social Network)
Will.i.am (X-Men Origins)
James Karen (Wall Street)
Lizzy Caplan (Cloverfield)
Sofia Vergara (Machete Kills)
Hank Azaria (The Simpsons)
Eliza Dushku (Tru Calling)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Katee Sackhoff (Battlestar Galactica)
Danny Trejo (Machete)
Robert Rodriguez (Sin City)
Ric Flair (Uncle Grandpa)
John Slattery (Mad Men)
Owain Yeoman (Supergirl)
Tom Kenny (Super Hero Squad)
Rosie Perez (Pineappe Express)
Edy Ganem (Devious Maids)
Ella North (Criminal Minds)
Florence Henderson (The BRady Bunch)
Rutina Wesley (Hannibal)
Darren Criss (Glee)
Bryan Cranston (Argo)
Loretta Devine (Crash)
Phylicia Rashad (Creed)
Will Arnett (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones)
Jan Hooks (3rd Rock From The Sun)

This is a good solid comedy who everybody should enjoy, it can have some abusive language but it is expected to as this is from the same minds who thought up Family Guy but in this they make it funny rather than offensive. I would reccomend this product to anyone and tell others who sometimes get a product based on the strength of different reviews is to ignore those who have given one star as they are all people criticize it for essentially not being Family Guy or American Dad.

EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS ARE

1.1) Pilot

After having his house damaged by Peter once again, Cleveland Brown and Cleveland Jr decide to leave Quahog and head to California to pursue his dream of being a minor league scout for a professional baseball organization. While passing through his hometown of Stoolbend, Virginia he bumps into his old flame, Donna Tubbs. She invites him to stay at her house for a couple of days, where Donna relays to Cleveland how she needs a father figure around for her kids after splitting with her husband, Robert. While at Donna’s house, he is introduced to Rallo and Roberta, Donna’s kids, and the neighbors, including the local redneck and the family of bears, which include father Tim, his wife, and son Raymond.

1.2) Da Doggone Daddy-Daughter Dinner Dance

Cleveland tries to make inroads with his new stepdaughter Roberta by asking her to accompany him to the school’s father/daughter dance. Last year Robert did not show up. The evening seems to be going smoothly until Cleveland runs over the family pet on his way to get an ice cream cake for celebration. Then his redneck neighbor Lester takes it and eats it. This kills his chances of being accepted by his new kids. Rallo and Cleveland look for meadowlark lemon and Cleveland dives in nasty places looking to keep the secret but Lester and the others tell him to be honest

1.3) The One About Friends

Cleveland notices his son, Cleveland Jr. has no friends, and sets out to find him a good friend. He finds out that Lester’s son, Ernie, has no friends, which Cleveland realizes is a perfect opportunity to have his son make friends with another friendless child. It goes well, but things take a turn for the worse. Ernie leaves his family and joins the Brown family, much to their dismay. Ernie is unsanitary and disgusting, which pushes Donna to make Cleveland call child services and get Ernie back in his home.

1.4) Birth of a Salesman

Cleveland looks for a job, first trying to be a grizzled police officer two days from retirement and also as a singing salesman at the Stoolbend Flea Market. Tim helps him get a job at Waterman Cable as a phone solicitor. Cleveland runs into an old high-school friend, Terry Kimple who is working as a cable installer for Waterman. When they were in school, Terry took the rap when they were busted for drugs. When Cleveland excels as a salesman, causing business to dry up for Tim, Tim prays for bad things to happen to Cleveland. Meanwhile, Roberta and Rallo feel resentment towards Cleveland Jr. for stealing their mother’s affections from them and try to make him look bad until they learn the true extent of his feelings towards his own mother.

1.5) Cleveland Jr.’s Cherry Bomb

While watching a baseball game at Stoolbend Stadium, Cleveland sees Roberta kissing with Federline Jones. Cleveland tries to talk to Roberta about maintaining her virginity but while she admits she has yet to do anything, makes it clear that it is none of his business. Following the advice of his friends, he takes the family to church to hear about maintaining purity. Cleveland Jr. gets carried away in the moment and pledges his purity to Cleveland’s dismay.

1.7) A Browns Thanksgiving

Cleveland celebrates his first Thanksgiving with his new family. His parents, Cookie Brown and Levar ‘Freight Train’ Brown arrive for Thanksgiving. Cleveland’s dismal relationship with his father nearly lands him in a fight with his own father, until Donna’s Auntie Momma shows up. She starts making comments on how outrageous she is after farting. Freight Train gains an infatuation over Auntie Momma and decides to have sex with her after a game of football. However, when Cleveland was taking out the garbage, he saw Auntie Momma in the bathroom, with a penis. Despite that Freight Train had sex with Auntie Momma (who secretly is a man), he did not even know about it.

1.9) A Cleveland Brown Christmas

Cleveland and the family go to pick out a Christmas tree at Lester’s lot. Cleveland has his eye on a nice large tree but Rallo insists on a smaller tree. Cleveland finds out that Donna and the family have been lying to Rallo, telling him the reason Robert cannot come around during the holidays is that he is an FBI agent. When Cleveland fills in as Santa Claus at his office holiday party, he has one too many egg nogs and lets the truth slip about Rallo’s father. Rallo fails to connect that it was Cleveland posing as Santa and takes out his hostility on the figure of Santa. With Rallo’s admiration for his dad destroyed, Cleveland tries to reconnect father and son in an attempt to save Rallo’s Christmas spirit.

1.10) Field of Streams

After a nostalgic flashback to the glory days as his high school’s baseball all-star, Cleveland visits his alma mater to find out there is no longer a team because he and his friends insulted Wally as a teen. Now Principal Wally gives Cleveland one week to raise money to re-build the stadium before the season begins. They raise the cash from a generous donation by Mr. Waterman and organize the team on time. Cleveland then steps in as head coach and dusts off his retired jersey in an attempt to convince Cleveland Jr. to play ball instead of joining the math club. Cleveland Jr. turns out to have no skills, even going as far as deliberately interfering with a play to save a ladybug.

1.11) Love Rollercoaster

Cleveland Jr. is building a model rocket for the school science fair. Roberta’s new teacher, Ms. Eck challenges Roberta to prove she can get by without her looks and has her alter her appearance by wearing a ‘fat suit’. Her first day as ‘Tyra’ gets off in an inauspicious start when she is rejected by Federline and the teachers she previously had wrapped around her finger. Cleveland Jr. sees her alone in the cafeteria and warms up to her. When he shows her his model rocket, which is not only failing but is being outmatched by the geeks who are translating Klingon, she helps him with the design flaw. They win the science fair – probably because of the TIE fighters the rocket deployed to attack the geeks – and Ms. Eck gives Roberta and A Grade for proving she more than just looks.

1.12) Our Gang

When the worst kids in the school go too far and Principal Wally expels the group, Coach Cleveland comes to the rescue by taking a group of delinquent teens under his wing. In an effort to teach them life skills, he proposes they go into business making and selling cookies. The kids however, misinterpret his baking terms for drugs and start dealing. Business is good until another gang takes over the area, stealing the drugs and money from the Crazy Eights. Cleveland rushes in to steal back the goods still believing them to be cookies. When he finds out they are drugs, he destroys them by flushing them down the toilet but faces a demand to return them or lose Cleveland Jr. who was captured. Cleveland rallies the Crazy Eights but becomes endangered himself.

1.13) Buried Pleasure

At Stoolfest, a local community festival, Cleveland calls Holt to tell him of a concert. he finds Holt out shopping with his mother and unable to go. Later that night at The Broken Stool, the guys tell Holt he is too accommodating to his mother’s wishes. When Donna sees Holt in a rage from their bedroom, she shows Cleveland and when they see Holt rolling up a figure in a carpet and take it away they assume Holt killed his mother. Cleveland helps the police set up a police sting operation and get Holt to show them where he buried the body…a sex doll that Holt decided he needed to get away from. Holt admits to Cleveland he has not had luck with real women and they set Holt up with Jane, a girl from the Waterman Cable office.

1.15) Once Upon A Tyne In New York

When Donna is not thrilled by marred life, Cleveland reveals that he and Donna have not yet taken their honeymoon. When soliciting ideas from the gang, Coach McFall reveals his former fling with Tyne Daly in New York City. Inspired, Cleveland takes Donna on a road trip to the Big Apple, and to Donna’s dismay, Cleveland allows the Stoolbend gang to tag along while the kids are left with Terry. The next morning, Donna and Cleveland try to enjoy their time while the rest of the gang wander off but they soon get into trouble, requiring Cleveland to come to the rescue and break off his day with Donna. Cleveland tries to make it up by taking Donna to a Broadway show but it is a cover for helping Coach McFall reunite with Tyne Daly. When Coach McFall actually meets Tyne Daly, they find his breakup was not exactly under pleasant circumstances. Frustrated with being neglected by Cleveland, she leaves and returns to the hotel bar.

1.16) The Brown Knight

After a stressful day at the school, Donna comes home and is in no mood for Cleveland’s shenanigans. At The Broken Stool, the guys tease Cleveland about Donna running things. When he confronts Donna, she admits she had to develop a take-charge attitude to survive being a single mom but agrees to lighten up a little for Cleveland. At an ATM, a robber attempts to take their money and Donna’s wedding ring. While Donna struggles with the thief to protect her ring, Cleveland runs around helplessly. When the thief’s gun goes off and Cleveland is shot, Donna feels horrible and agrees to restrain herself more for Cleveland.

1.17) Gone With The Wind

When Cleveland is diagnosed with high cholesterol, Donna puts him on a new high-fiber diet, which causes an intestinal backlash. When it begins to affect his work, he goes to see Dr. Fist who gives him a written note card explaining that he has a medical condition which he soon takes advantage of. Cleveland quickly realizes his gas might score him a few points in the Broken Stool’s karaoke contest. Donna is appalled that Cleveland should resort to such disgusting behavior but they are interrupted by a call that brings news of Loretta’s death. Cleveland’s old friend Quagmire from Quahog arrives with the body and explains that she was accidentally killed by the bathtub falling out of the damaged house gag when Peter tried to decorate his & Lois’ bedroom with a brachiosaurus skeleton Brian dug up, but unintentionally dropped his hardhat on a lever, causing the crane to lose control and slam the skeleton on Loretta’s house, of which Cleveland had survived numerous times. Worried for Cleveland Jr., they try to break the news gently and find he has already put his mother’s death behind him. The guilt of having survived the same accident that killed Loretta multiple times causes Cleveland to break down for a while, until he realises why he is upset when Donna helps him move on as well, prior to winning the karaoke competition.

1.18) Brotherly Love

Acting as his brother’s wingman, Rallo gives Cleveland Jr. a few pointers on how to win over the girl of his dreams, Chanel. Although when Cleveland Jr. finds out that her boyfriend is local rap star Kenny West. Cleveland Jr challenges Kenny to a rap battle to win Chanel’s heart. Meanwhile, during a cable installation, Cleveland and Terry somehow get mistaken for male strippers and decide to make a new career out of it. But not if Donna has anything to say about it.

1.19) Brown History Month

Cleveland and Cleveland Jr. teach Donna and the kids their tradition of celebrating Black History Month. However, when Rallo learns about his heritage at school, he provokes Cleveland into a battle royale with neighbor, Lester.

1.20) Cleveland’s Angels

After Cleveland gambles away Roberta’s college fund, Kendra discovers that Cleveland was actually cheated out of his money and recruits Donna and Arianna for a “Cleveland’s Angels” mission.

1.21) You’re the Best Man, Cleveland Brown

Cleveland finds out that Cleveland Jr. will inherit all of his ex-wife’s belongings and that his parents, Cookie and Freight Train, plan to remarry. To add insult to injury, Freight Train dumps Cleveland as his best man in favor of Donna’s ex-husband, Robert.

2.1 ) Harder, Better, Faster, Browner

Cleveland attempts to get Kenny West’s rap career off the ground and President Barack Hussein Obama pays Stoolbend a visit.

2.2) Cleveland Live!

In an animation first, The Cleveland Show offers the audience a behind-the-scenes look at the “filming” of the episode. When Cleveland and Donna attempt to celebrate their anniversary, their unruly kids and disruptive friends, including Donna’s ex-husband, Robert, get in their way

2.3) How Cleveland Got His Groove Back

Instead of continuing on their family-heritage trip to Africa, Cleveland and the family end up turning their layover into a tropical vacation.

2.4) It’s The Great Pancake, Cleveland Brown

Cleveland crushes Cleveland Jr.’s spirit when he forbids him from trick-or-treating because he thinks he is too old. Junior reinvents himself as a “cool kid” and is invited to attend a Halloween party with Roberta. Meanwhile, Rallo goes against his mom’s wishes and eats way more Halloween candy than his teeth can handle.

2.5) Little Man on Campus

Coach Cleveland gets greedy to win the high school baseball state championship game and turns to cheating when his star pitcher goes out for the season.

2.8) Murray Christmas

When Rallo’s teacher forces him to spend the weekend at a retirement home to get to know the senior citizens during the holidays, he meets Murray, who teaches him about Hanukkah. In an attempt to rekindle Murray’s holiday spirit, Rallo helps him escape, but when his new friend’s health begins to suffer, Rallo has to bring Murray back to the home. Meanwhile, Cleveland trains for a boxing match against his bully of a father, Freight Train, which ends with some bumps and bruises.

2.9) Beer Walk

Donna, frustrated by her husband’s laziness on the weekends, nags Cleveland to help her around the house and to do something more with his life. To prove to Donna he can be as charitable as her, Cleveland recruits his buddies from Quahog and Stoolbend to participate in the First Annual Charity Beer Walk. When Donna gets injured at the event, Cleveland has to take over the housework.

2.13) A Short Story and a Tall Tale

Cleveland and Donna celebrate Valentine’s Day with a trip to Los Angeles after scoring courtside seats to the all-star basketball game featuring Kevin Garnett, Dwight Howard, LeBron James, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, Shaquille O’Neal and Dwyane Wade. Caught up in the excitement, Cleveland gets rowdy and talks smack to the players from the sideline throughout the game. The basketball champs, feeling hurt, seek revenge by paying a surprise visit to Stoolbend and putting Cleveland in his place.

2.14) Terry Unmarried

When Cleveland discovers he and his wife are not actually married, and his best friend Terry is gay and in a relationship, they all decide to go to Vermont for a double wedding; Cleveland Jr. tries to get Rallo to break a nasty habit.

2.15) The Blue, The Gray and The Brown

After Cleveland fights to save the town’s drive-in movie theater, his efforts to preserve the town’s history is noticed by the Stoolbend Preservation Society and he is invited to attend a private dinner party at the home of the great-great-grandson of the town’s founding father. While at the event, Cleveland learns of the town’s legacy and decides to take back his beloved town.

2.16) The Way The Cookie Crumbles

After Cleveland learns that his parents have been scammed out of their life savings, he plans to bring down the con man who targeted his mother.

2.18) The Essence of Cleveland

Cleveland is reunited with an old classmate “Fatty Patty”, who is now skinny and beautiful and still has a crush on Cleveland.

2.22) Hot Cocoa Bang Bang

Cleveland takes the entire family to a comic convention in an attempt to sell his comic book, “Waderman.” While there, Donna is horrified to find out that Robert Rodriguez is screening a Blaxploitation film that she starred in when she was younger, and Cleveland Jr., tired of Comic-Con being a playground for Hollywood to peddle their projects, gathers a band of geeks together to take the Con back to its true origins.

3.1) BFFs

Cleveland is upset when he finds out that his best friend Peter Griffin came to Stoolbend and did not call him to hang out. In an effort to bond with the guys, Cleveland takes them on a camping trip hosted by guest star Ric Flair.

3.2) The Hurricane!

When a storm hits Stoolbend, the Browns are forced to salvage what’s left of their vacation and Cleveland, Jr. shocks everyone with a proclamation of his religious beliefs.

3.3) Nightmare on Grace Street

Donna makes Cleveland and Rallo spend the night in a haunted house. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s new friend goes on a murderous rampage and Roberta is stuck in love triangle between a vampire and a wolf.

3.5) Yemen Party

When Donna joins a women’s support group and starts to complain about how Cleveland treats her, Cleveland dresses up as a woman to infiltrate the group and show Donna how good her life really is. Meanwhile, Cleveland Jr. and Rallo join forces to stop the playground bully, Rodney.

3.6) Sex and The Biddy

Rallo suspicions that Murray’s new girlfriend is a gold digger are confirmed, but not before it’s too late, and Cleveland finds a shortcut to working out and improving his body to impress Donna.


3.7) Die Semi-Hard

While staging their own live nativity scene, Cleveland tells his family his version of the greatest holiday-themed blockbuster movie ever told. This is the first episode parodying a film.

3.8)  Y Tu Junior Tambien

When Junior starts dating a very attractive young lady named Cecelia, Cleveland gets green with envy because Junior’s one-upped him and suspicious of her motives. When things start to get serious between the two lovers, Cleveland suspects that the young woman is using Junior to get a green card. But it goes too far. Lester calls the immigration agency, and in an attempt to keep Cecelia in the country, Cleveland Jr. marries Cecelia and moves out. Meanwhile, Junior attempts to get used to living on his own.

3.9) There Goes El Neighborhood

After getting himself into several cultural misunderstandings with his new and popular Latina neighbor, Cleveland attempts to make amends by demonstrating his knowledge of Latino culture. But Cleveland gets into a bind when he offers to babysit Choni’s son and winds up losing him. Meanwhile, Junior sets up his new wife Cecelia on a Valentine’s Day date but his jealousy gets the best of him.

3.10) Dancing With The Stools

Determined to claim the first place trophy at the annual “Dancing with the Stools” ballroom dance competition, Donna recruits Cleveland Jr. to be her partner. But their hopes of taking home the big prize misses a beat when Cleveland Jr. professes his love for Donna just moments before their well-rehearsed routine. Meanwhile, Roberta babysits Rallo for a week, and learns that domestic responsibilities are not as easy as they seem.

3.11) Brown Magic

Excited to spend quality father-stepson bonding time with Rallo, Cleveland takes Rallo to his very first magic show, where they get hired to be the opening act. Thanks to Rallo’s sharp wit in the role of the puppet, Cleveland and Rallo’s ventriloquist act becomes a hit. As their act gets rave reviews by fans and ventriloquist critic Graham Kensington, Rallo grows tired of Cleveland taking all the credit for their success. Not one to be taken for a dummy, Rallo proves that he is the heart of their comedic act.

3.15) The Men In Me

Cleveland is labeled “The Whitest Black Man in America” after he wins a dance competition for the chance to attend a pop sensation’s concert. Unable to shake off his new reputation, Cleveland is determined to understand his roots and where he came from. Everything starts to make sense when he is reunited with his former nanny Barbara (voiced by Florence Henderson), a high class woman with a taste for refined culture. But even though Cleveland’s nanny influenced many of his interests growing up, Cleveland finally learns that happiness comes from being comfortable in your own skin.

3.16) Frapp Attack!

After Donna becomes jealous when Cleveland gets too close to a female co-worker, a music video made from footage of his workplace shenanigans goes viral and attracts the attention of a big-time music producer. He is attracted to Donna as well, making Cleveland jealous.

3.17) American Prankster

One of Rallo’s pranks goes too far and gets Cleveland, Jr. kicked out of the scouts. Cleveland takes matters into his own hands and threatens to send Rallo to juvenile detention, but things backfire when Rallo runs away.

3.19) Jesus Walks

Devout church choir girl Vanessa (Fergie) catches Cleveland, Jr.’s eye, and he eagerly volunteers to go on a church trip to be in her good graces. Vanessa’s fellow choir member, Hunter (Darren Criss), confronts him for going to church for the wrong reasons, but the tables turn when Vanessa winds up being a handful for the boys. Meanwhile, Donna’s ex-boyfriend returns home from Iraq and discovers that she is married.

3.20) Flush of Genius

Cleveland Jr. profiles his dad for a report on his favorite American, but when Cleveland falls off the toilet and suffers a concussion, he loses Cleveland Jr.’s admiration. Meanwhile, Rallo gets excited when he realises he has grown tall enough to ride his favorite roller coaster.

3.21) Mama Drama

Hoping to lift Donna’s spirits on Mother’s Day, Cleveland hires an actress to play Donna’s estranged mother, Dee Dee Tubbs (Phylicia Rashād). But when an unexpected event leads the real Dee Dee to find Cleveland, he stages one last effort to reunite Donna with her mother, and the unlikely meeting helps the two women forge a new mother-daughter bond.

3.22) All You Can Eat

After Cleveland Jr. gets bullied by Oliver Wilkerson and his gang again, Roberta gives him a makeover, and his stylish new look gives him the confidence to approach Daisy, a misfit who catches his attention. But when Daisy mistakes Cleveland Jr. for a woman, they decide to make a statement and go to the prom as a gay couple. Meanwhile, Cleveland’s authority as his favorite snack food’s ultimate expert is threatened by another fan.

4.1) Escape from Goochland

Cleveland and the gang visit their rival high school in Goochland for the annual football game, but when Federline, the gang’s designated driver (who Cleveland only brought along because he was the original designated driver and he wanted to drink), destroys the car belonging to Cleveland’s nemesis Chet Butler, they must find a way to escape their enemy’s home turf. Meanwhile, Donna takes back Roberta’s Halloween hooker costume, but decides to wear it instead, and Roberta and Cleveland Jr. play pranks around Stoolbend when they dress up as Donna and Cleveland.

4.2) Menace II Secret Society

Cleveland confronts now super-famous rapper Kenny West about not sharing credit for the megahit they created together, “Be-Cleve in Yourself”. He soon discovers Kenny’s involvement in a secret hip-hop society with will.i.am, ?uestlove, Bruno Mars and Nicki Minaj. Meanwhile, Cleveland Jr. starts a polka band after being rejected by his school’s marching band.

4.3) A General Thanksgiving Episode

When Holt misses his plane to Florida for Thanksgiving, he reveals that he was not even invited to his estranged family’s holiday dinner. To help him get over his Thanksgiving blues, Rallo invites Holt’s father over for the holidays, which ends up making Holt’s family relationship worse. Meanwhile, Cleveland tries to open an airport bar, but ends up drunk and flying a stolen airplane.

4.4) Turkey Pot Die

Cleveland’s idea to take Cleveland Jr. to a turkey farm to bag one for Thanksgiving dinner does not fly with the young guy, who instead hatches a plan to free the birds. Meanwhile, Rallo and Donna team to construct a Thanksgiving Day float.

4.6) Tis The Cleveland To Be Sorry

Cleveland discovers that the food served at the local homeless shelter is much better than it is at home, so he pretends to be homeless to benefit from the meals. But when the community catches onto his ill-spirited scheme, they confront him and he must apologize to everyone. Meanwhile, chauvinistic store owner Harris Grundle hires Roberta as a Christmas elf, but requires all of Santa’s female helpers to wear sexy elf costumes.

4.8) Wide World of Cleveland Show

Cleveland hosts a special episode showing what The Cleveland Show is like in different parts of the world.

4.9) Here Comes The Bribe

After Cleveland botches his part during the renewal of their wedding vows, Donna hustles him to marriage counseling, where the mediator informs Cleveland that, for a price, he can slant the “treatments” the husband’s way. Meanwhile, Junior’s refrigerator breaks, so he and Rallo turn it into a hotel-style minibar.

4.10) When a Man (or a Freight Train) Loves His Cookie

When Freight Train misses his and Cookie’s anniversary bash, she decides to hit the road with George Clinton and the P-Funk All-Stars, leaving Freight Train and Cleveland to track her down. Meanwhile, Junior’s visit to an office-supply store sparks an elaborate fantasy.

4.11) Brownsized

With the promise of six-months severance pay (in exchange for everyone else losing their health benefits), Cleveland deep-sixes his job, but is having a tough time trying to find a way to tell Donna. Meanwhile, Federline forgets his and Roberta’s anniversary, so Rallo finds her a handsome new man, Devon (voiced by Kid Cudi), but finds that Devon is straitlaced and boring to the point of being annoying and holier than thou.

4.13) A Rodent Like This

A rat running rampant in the house sends Donna and the children to stay with her mother, while Cleveland is left behind to deal with the rodent. Reveling in having the place to himself, Cleveland soon bonds with his new pet pal, whom he names Rat Lauer. Meanwhile, Rallo and Junior play spies, but not all goes well when Junior refuses to reveal what is in his secret-agent briefcase.

4.14) The Hangover: Part Tubbs

Donna tries to run for the school board, but her plans are thwarted when Cleveland accidentally kills a new friend playing a game. Meanwhile, Cleveland Jr. discovers that he is an excellent diver, but has doubts about joining the team because of the skimpy Speedo he must wear.

4.15) California Dreamin’ (All the Cleves Are Brown)

Cleveland and his family move to California so he can pursue his dream of becoming a baseball scout.

4.16) Who Done Did It?

After Cleveland eggs Arianna’s house defending Donna’s honor, he decides to seek revenge against everyone by pelting them with eggs — which lands him in prison for killing Mr. Waterman’s sham wife, Lydia. Meanwhile, Rallo and Cleveland, Jr. discover that Freight Train writes whodunit novels under a woman’s name and become his students on how to write and solve a mystery, using Lydia Waterman’s death as inspiration for a new book.

4.17) The Fist and the Furious

Cleveland decides to make Dr. Fist  one of his friends, but fears for his safety when he discovers Dr. Fist’s mob association. Meanwhile, Rallo and Cleveland Jr. open a food truck business.

4.20) Of Lice and Men

A lice outbreak at school means Rallo must lop off his beloved Afro, and when the other kids start making fun of him, Junior has his back. Meanwhile, Cleveland house-sits at Freight Train and Cookie’s, where things take a bad turn after his pals show up.

4.21) Mr & Mrs. Brown

Donna is incensed when Cleveland and his mom are mistaken for husband and wife on a visit to a retirement home. Meanwhile, Rallo rips off a candy bar from a vendor, and then tries to get Junior to take the rap for the theft.

4.23: Wheel of Family!

Donna and Cleveland try to fix the kids’ hectic schedules, while Cleveland Jr. finds his pole-dancing talent. Cleveland later finds out that Robert and Dee-Dee have become an item, and they adopt and raise a child.

REVIEW: A SERIES OF UNFORTANTE EVENTS – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Neil Patrick Harris (How I Met Your Mother)
Patrick Warburton (Family Guy)
Malina Weissman (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Louis Hynes (Barbarians Rising)
K. Todd Freeman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Presley Smith
Tara Strong (Batman: The KIlling Joke)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
Aasif Mandvi (The Siege)
Catherine O’Hara (Home Alone)
Don Johnson (Machete)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
John DeSantis (Blade: The Series)
Sara Canning (The Vampire Diaries)
Rhys Darby (Yes Man)
Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother)
Will Arnett (The Lego Batman Movie)

Published between 1999 and 2006, A Series Of Unfortunate Events told the story of Violet, Klaus and Sunny Baudelaire, three intelligent and resourceful children who are orphaned when their parents are killed in a mysterious fire that destroys their home. Over the course of the books they are met with misfortune after misfortune as the evil Count Olaf attempts to get his hands on the money their parents left behind, with the orphans always just barely managing to escape Olaf’s clutches. Eventually they start to realise that there is more to Olaf and the death of their parents than they realise, and their attempts to survive converge more and more with a huge conspiracy that drags them deeper into a web of very furtive danger.

The books are oblique, absurd, repetitive and relentlessly dark. The last attempt at adapting them wrangled three books into one film along with a simplified version of the convoluted mystery that characterised the back half of the book series, which it chose to more or less resolve, while ramping up the buffoonery of Olaf and toning down his more menacing moments. All of these were choices that made sense from a commercial perspective; yet the film was met with a shrug. So when it was announced that Netflix was taking on the series, it was hard not to wonder just how that might look and whether it would be more successful than the last version. Adapting this series presents a challenge; a faithful retelling of the books runs the risk of being kind of repetitive, not to mention very expensive considering each book takes place in a different bizarre setting with a mostly different cast of supporting characters. So how do they manage it?

As it turns out, very, very well. And very faithfully to boot. The television series devotes two episodes to each book, with the first season covering the first four. Essentially this means that each individual novel gets more time than the film allowed for three, meaning that not only can the series depict just about every scene from each book, but it can embellish and explore certain aspects while threading new, fascinating subplots throughout the more familiar material. Consequently, the series offers something fresh and interesting for those unfamiliar with Snicket while being full of surprises and easter eggs for those who spent their childhoods scouring the books for clues, hints or things we might have missed. This is an adaptation that does fan service right. If you know the books reasonably well, you will have ample reasons to squeal with delight or gasp at your television while never once feeling like somebody is pandering to you.

Part of this is probably due to the heavy involvement of Daniel Handler, who wrote the teleplays for the four episodes. The tweaks the television series makes to the novels play more like minor corrections, the new subplots like we’re seeing important deleted scenes rather than anything added inorganically to fill screen time and above all the series just feels extremely true to the spirit of its source material in a way that the movie never quite did. Part of this is the dialogue, part of this is the theatrical set design and part of this is the fact that the series is unafraid to get dark.The first book, The Bad Beginning, features many disturbing elements but two that stand out are Count Olaf’s insidious plan to marry fourteen year old Violet Baudelaire in order to get his hands on her fortune, and an earlier scene in which a drunk, angry Olaf strikes Klaus across the face for talking back to him. The film included both these plot points, but they were both buried in lots of Jim Carrey mugging. This created the uncomfortable feeling that some awful stuff was being played for laughs, or at least that the impact of it was being softened to avoid upsetting anyone too much. The series does not shy away from either of these moments. The marriage plot is exactly as disturbing as it should be, while the attack on Klaus is followed by a loaded silence that lets you feel just how dreadful the circumstances of the Baudelaires and the man behind them is. When the humour does come it’s a welcome relief rather than an attempt to bury disturbing content beneath silly voices and kooky lines.Neil Patrick Harris walks a very particular tightrope in his portrayal of Olaf. The villain of the series is a terrible actor who uses a variety of ridiculous disguises and bizarre plots in his attempts to capture the orphans, but when all is said and done this man is still a dangerous murderer and serial arsonist. Predictably Harris is very funny, but it’s that crucial undercurrent of darkness that sells the character in a way that Jim Carrey didn’t quite manage and means that, no matter how much you’re laughing at him, you never forget the danger that he poses.

Elsewhere, the acting is just as strong. Malina Weissman and Louis Hynes are both excellent as Violent and Klaus respectively, while K. Todd Freeman threatens to steal the show as inept banker Mr Poe. Aasif Mandvi makes for a warm and endearingly quirky Uncle Monty while Patrick Warburton very quickly becomes the only Lemony Snicket you’ll be able to imagine. Where Jude Law in the film depicted the narrator as a softly spoken reclusive writer, Warburton is more of a droll noir detective, walking in and out of scenes to comment on proceedings with wry humour and occasional flashes of melancholy and gravitas. In short, he is a pitch perfect, if unexpected, take on arguably the most important character in the series.

One of the most distinctive things about the books was how it handled its tone; veering quickly from oddball humour to reflective sadness. The television series handles this with deft expertise; just watch how Snicket reacts in pained silence to the Baudelaires learning about their parents’ death even as Mr Poe fumbles breaking the news. The series is not quite as funny as the trailers may have led you to believe, but this isn’t a bad thing. It only means that humour never disguises just how dire the circumstances of the orphans are. We feel for Violet, Klaus and Sunny and we hate Count Olaf even as we chuckle at his one liners and over the top behaviour. It’s a balancing act that could so easily fall apart but never does due to the simple fact that everyone involved in this series knows exactly what they’re doing.The series feels fresh, new and different to just about anything that has ever been on television before. Netflix took a risk on this and evidently let the creators do exactly what they wanted in bringing the novels to life. At its heart, A Series of Unfortunate Events is about the fact that life rarely goes the way we want it to and trouble and treachery can strike at the worst possible times. And while they may not offer a permanent solution, intelligence, curiosity, decency and literacy are lights in the darkness, tiny glimmers of hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The plight of the Baudelaire orphans, ultimately, is not a case of relentless misery being played for our entertainment, but a story of hope and resilience built around the honest truth that life isn’t fair. Perhaps the greatest trick of the book series, and now the TV show, is disguising a message of hope in a story of seemingly endless gloom. In that regard, this brave, funny, exciting, imaginative new show is as big of a success as anyone could have hoped for. It’s an absolute treat.