16 September 2020 | TheLittleSongbird
To me, 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' book series deserves its popularity, its formula can be understandably perceived as repetitive but the colourful supporting characters (namely the juicy tour-de-force that is Count Olaf), increasing darkness and mystery and prose add to the entertainment value. While starting off a little unsettled, this series adaptation that adapted all thirteen books (with all but one of the books adapted in two parts) more than laudably does very well.
Season 2, which adapted "The Austere Academy", "The Ersatz Elevator", "The Vile Village", "The Hostile Hospital" and "The Carnivorous Carnival", felt more settled than Season 1, which comprised of "The Bad Beginning", "The Reptile Room", "The Wide Window" and "The Miserable Mill". Season 1 was very promising and established the book series' basic tone very well indeed on the most part, but the second season built upon what was introduced and established and the mystery became darker, more suspenseful and richer without being convoluted.
Whereas most of the two part adaptations of the 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' adaptation were a case of one part being slightly better than the other (the second half tending to be better) , there were exceptions where both parts were equally good. "The Hostile Hospital" is a strong example of this, one of the best of the whole series and a contender for the best of Season 2. It's a slow starter, which is true for the book as well, but once things get going it is classic 'A Series of Unfortunate Events'. The first part also doesn't have Mr Poe, which is a major plus.
It is a great looking episode for one. The production values were one of the series' biggest and most consistent high points, "The Hostile Hospital: Part 1" the lighting has a genuine eeriness and the photography is full of atmosphere and style. Most striking is the setting, the hospital setting is one of the most strikingly done and most atmospheric settings of the series and really does stand out. Those corridors have a real sense of claustrophobia that makes one appropriately uncomfortable, especially those actually that have been in and out of hospital for a large portion of their life (myself included, one of the worst cases being complications from a viral infection a few months back). If a lot has been said about this asset, it is because it is that striking to be mentioned a lot. The opening titles sequence is right on the money for reasons that have been said already. The music atmospherically is a perfect match and there isn't a placement that's questionable.
Snicket's writing translates very well here in "The Hostile Hospital: Part 1". As well as having the right amount of entertainment value in a dark way and suspenseful intrigue, there is also a melancholic edge in the narration (not overused or over-explanatory here to me) not seen as much before (when Beatrice is referenced). The story compels throughout, and up to this point of the series "The Hostile Hospital" has been the adaptation to have the most sense of jeopardy that built and built.
Count Olaf is at his most sinister, a genuine threat here, and so is Neil Patrick Harris. Patrick Warburton is suitably mysterious and manages to deliver and emote in a way that was amusing but also very serious (my definition of deadpan but in a good way). Lucy Punch has just as great a time as Harris and brings smiles and chills. David Alan Grier is a sympathetic Hal and Olaf's theatrical troupe are a joy, very theatrical but also very creepy and very funny. Actually think the Baudelaires' acting has grown in confidence over time, their material generally just isn't as strong as the rest of the cast's.
Altogether, one of the best of the series. 9/10