At first the Big Bad is thespian Count Olaf (Neil Patrick Harris), whose goal is purely mercenary -- getting his hands on their vast fortune -- but gradually, through a series of 13 books (1999-2006), a vast conspiracy is revealed, with battling secret societies, complex motivations, and strange back stories.
The new Netflix adaption is far superior to the 2004 film version, and in some ways better than the original books themselves.
(Luke Camilleri, left, plays a secret society agent who is monitoring the children while trying not to interfere with the events).
This serves a practical purpose, of course -- child actors can't work many hours. But it also dilutes the "unfortunate events," making them more palatable.
3. The books reveal the secret societies so gradually that it becomes tedious. In the series, they're present from the start.
5. Count Olaf's henchmen are humanized, not figures of pure evil, as in the books. The Hook-Handed Man, played by comedian Usman Ally (right), seems actually rather nice.
But that Orlando (Matty Cardarpole in bad drag): transphobia at its worst, or rather fear of androgyny, designed to make us queasy and uncomfortable. Can't go around breaking gender norms!