"A Bad Beginning: Part One"
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Adapted from: The Bad Beginning
Transcript: link
Main character(s): Violet, Klaus, Sunny
Baudelaire guardian: Count Olaf
Featuring: Mr. Poe, Justice Strauss
Main enemy: Count Olaf
Olaf's disguise: Himself
Main setting: Count Olaf's house
Library: Justice Strauss' library (law)
Key crew
Writer: Daniel Handler
Director: Barry Sonnenfeld
Producer: Neil Patrick Harris
Release details
Story number: 1a
Season/series: Season 1
Premiere network: Netflix
Release date: January 13, 2017
Format: 50 minutes
Production code: 1.1
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Behind the scenes video

"A Bad Beginning: Part One" was the first episode of Netflix's A Series of Unfortunate Events. It covered the first half of The Bad Beginning and the start of the Baudelaires' misfortunes.

This episode also introduced the Quagmire parents, Mr. and Mrs. Quagmire, though at the time of "The Bad Beginning", they were implied to be the Baudelaire parents instead.

Official synopsis

The dreadful history of the Baudelaire children begins with a terrible fire, a terrible new guardian, and a mysterious organization.

Dedication

To Beatrice –
darling, dearest, dead.

Plot

Standing in a dimly lit underground tunnel, Lemony Snicket lights a match and informs the viewers, that there is no happy beginning, no happy ending, and very few happy things in the middle. He waits for a few minutes to see if the viewer will stop watching, but after a few minutes he informs us that the Baudelaire story happened many years ago.

Lemony is then interrupted as the ground trembles above him, which is caused by a rickety trolley as it passes along on its track. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are one of the people on board. The children see a fire engine rushing by, but don't think too much of it. They get off at Briny Beach on a gray and cloudy morning for the simple reason being that it is not crowded with tourists.

At the beach, Violet skips a rock across the ocean and decides to use a rock retrieval device that she had invented. The device is successful in getting the rock, and she briefly celebrates with Klaus.

The Baudelaire Mansion goes up in flames.

Hearing a sudden noise, Sunny turns her head to see a mysterious figure in the distance. Violet recognizes the shadowy creature as Mr. Poe, from the bank, but she is confused at why she is at the beach. Mr. Poe approaches them and looks at them sadly. After a long silence, the Baudelaire children try to make conversation. Mr. Poe then says 8 words that would forever haunt the children: "Your parents have perished in a terrible fire." The children don't say anything at all, and he takes the children to his car.

The Baudelaire children, now the Baudelaire orphans, look back as they're driven away from their ruined mansion.

Visiting the Baudelaire Mansion, ravished by the fire, the Baudelaires find it's nearly all gone. While Klaus is looking at the ashy remains of the house, he finds a spyglass in a cabinet drawer. When he pulls it out, part of it falls apart in his hand. As Mr. Poe explains about the Baudelaire Fortune and their future guardianship, Klaus finds that the eye-shaped end of the spyglass opens. Mr. Poe beckons for them to leave, and the Baudelaire orphans wistfully follow. He explains in the car that until he finds the children a new guardian, they'll stay with his family.

The miserable orphans are brought to their next destination.

The Baudelaires have dinner at Mr. Poe's house, where everything is boiled, with his wife, Eleanora Poe, and two children, Edgar and Albert. Eleanora presents the latest issue of The Daily Punctilio, whose front page headline is on the Baudelaire Fire. Mr. Poe tells his wife that maybe they shouldn't discuss the fire in front of the Baudelaires, but then changes his mind when he realizes that he is mentioned in the paper as well. Later, as the Baudelaires lay together on a single bed in Edgar and Albert's room, Mrs. Poe prods them: "You must feel terrible, and you must miss your parents very much." She gets Klaus to repeat it, and the following morning's headline says: "We Feel Terrible, and We Miss Our Parents Very Much". The next morning, it's daylight, and Mr. Poe takes the children to their "closest living relative" and their new guardian, who is named: Count Olaf, who is employed as an actor.

Justice Strauss meets the Baudelaires.

Upon arriving at his address, they encounter Justice Strauss, a kind-hearted and child-loving judge, who has a garden full of flowers and a private library full of books. But sadly the children discover that Justice Strauss is not in any way connected to Count Olaf, whose home looms ominously across the street.

Count Olaf's house

Mr. Poe rings the doorbell, and as they wait, mentions that Count Olaf said specifically that he was "very eager to get his hands on you". Olaf runs down the stairs to let them in, and immediately the children notice the tattoo of an eye on their new guardian's ankle.

They enter Count Olaf's house and see dirt and grime in every inch and corner. Count Olaf says he could fix it up with some of the children's wealth, but Mr. Poe corrects him: the Baudelaire Fortune will not be inherited until Violet comes of age. Olaf soon pushes Mr. Poe out of the house.

He presents the orphans with a list of chores, and gives them a tour of their horrid new "home". They are only allowed to use bathroom #9, and they are forced to sleep on one bed(Which isn't even that big to begin with). Their bedroom also has a pile of rocks on the side for the children.

After Count Olaf asks how the children feel about their new home, Klaus begins to argue. Violet quickly end the disagreement and notes that first impressions are often very wrong. Count Olaf agrees, and then says to them "You may think I'm a terrible man....you haven't the faintest idea".

The Baudelaires cleaning the grimy bathroom

While Olaf has them cleaning the bathroom with toothbrushes, Justice Strauss rings on doorbell, and talks to Count Olaf. She's made the Baudelaires cooked lamb with her homemade mint jelly, but Olaf convinces her that they're violent and ungrateful spoiled monsters. He chomps on the lamb himself in front of the children, and dismisses Justice Strauss, saying the children don't want to see her, as the lamb was too salty. 



Climax

Meeting the orphans upstairs, he finds they completed his list and adds that they have to prepare dinner for his theater troupe, who are coming tonight. Violet has the idea to check Justice Strauss' library for cookbooks.

They decide on pasta puttanesca and go with Justice Strauss to pick up the ingredients they need. When they arrive back to Olaf's house, he and his troupe put on a musical performance in front of the children called "The Count". Olaf gets annoyed with the children when they don't clap, and he tells them to cook dinner.

The Baudelaires serve dinner to Count Olaf's troupe.

As the troupe drinks "Merlote" in the dining room, the Baudelaire children prepare dinner in the kitchen. They prepare the sauce, Violet fixes the pasta maker to make fresh pasta, and Sunny shreds the parsley with her teeth.

Olaf holds Sunny up in the air.

As Count Olaf gives a speech to his troupe about acting, the children serve dinner, which everyone but Olaf agrees is delicious. When Olaf finds out what they are serving, he demands to know why they were not given roast beef. Klaus points out that Count Olaf never asked for roast beef, and when Sunny makes he noise, he holds Sunny high up in the air, but then puts her down on the table as he is too drunk to stand still. He tells the children to go to their "beds" and slaps Klaus across the face, all because Klaus said that they only have one bed, and that they don't have the money to buy a new one.

As they lay in bed that night, the Baudelaires consider that this hostile environment may not, after all, may not be "better than nothing", as their father had once said. Meanwhile, Justice Strauss reads up on Adoption Law & You.

Walking through the tunnels, Lemony Snicket discusses his dedication to researching and documenting the lives of the Baudelaire children, no matter what dangers it puts him in. "Trouble and strife can cover this world like the dark of night, or like smoke from a suspicious fire. And when that happens... all good, true and decent people know that it's time to volunteer."

"What's that thing Einstein said?"

Somewhere, in a truck, a woman and a man(The man is dressed in a suit, with the woman in a dress)are handcuffed, and say that they need to get back to "the children."

Starring

Special Guest starring

Guest starring

Co-starring

Crew

Executive Producers   Cindy Holland, Brian Wright, Ted Biaselli
                                             Daniel Handler and Barry Sonnenfeld
                                                     with John Weber and Frank Siracusa
Co-executive producer(s)   Rose Lam and Emily Fox                                                
Teleplay by
Daniel Handler
Produced by
Neil Patrick Harris
Directed by
Barry Sonnenfeld
Director of Photography
Bernard Couture
Production Designer
Bo Welch

Casting by
Ronna Kress
Original score by
James Newton-Howard


Costume Designer
Angus Strathie
Edited by
Stuart Bass, ACE
Based on the book series by Lemony Snicket
 

Main title theme music by Nick Urata  • Lyrics by Daniel Handler  • Performed by Neil Patrick Harris 
Original songs: Music by Nick Urata • Lyrics by Daniel Handler 

Main title designed by Stuart Bass, ACE & TWINART 

General production staff

Camera and lighting department

2nd unit camera and lighting

Script department

Art department

Costume department

Make-up, prosthetics and hair

Personal assistants

Movement

Casting

General post-production staff

Sound department

Special and visual effects

CVD VFX

Encore Vancouver &
Method Studios Vancouver

LUX Visual Effects Inc.

Previsualization by NeoReel Inc.

SPIN VFX

VFX by Zoic Studios

Not every person who worked on this episode was credited. The absence of a credit for a position doesn't necessarily mean the job wasn't required. The information above is based solely on observations of the actual end credits of the episodes as streamed on Netflix, and does not relay information from IMDb or other sources.


References

Events

  • The trolleyman asks the children if they're going to the Festive Fun Fair, with all the jolly rides and games and snacks. In the background, you can see it faintly.

Locations

  • Before the fire, the Baudelaires lived in an enormous mansion at the heart of a dirty and busy city.
  • Violet, Klaus and Sunny are at Briny Beach when they receive the terrible news that their parents are dead.
  • A Fresh Sea Food shack sits along the beach.
  • According to signs around the premises, both swimming and fishing are prohibited at Briny Beach, due to the polluted waters.
  • According to Klaus, there was a village in the Pacific Islands, suspended on ropes above an active volcano. They owned very little in case it erupts.
  • There is, near Justice Strauss' house, a local open-air market and gin distillery. The children visit with her to get the food they need for dinner.

Objects

  • Sunny asks for a rock that's not sandstone, and bites the one she's given into a smooth projectile to throw into the sea.
  • Justice Strauss has bought new file cards for her private library.
  • She forgot, however, to purchase a new bread knife.
  • Count Olaf provides the children with only one bed. After letting this slip to Justice Strauss, he claims that the plural of "bed" is "bed".
  • He also makes them clean the bathroom with their own toothbrushes. Afterwards, Klaus says he never wants to use a toothbrush again.

Technology

  • In a flashback, Violet has made a grandfather clock from the Baudelaire library into a grandfather clock toaster. While it toasts the bread, though, the minute hand falls behind five minutes.
  • Violet has built a rock retrieval device out of a picnic basket, which successfully brings back to her the rock she threw into the sea.
  • Justice Strauss' food processor broke, so she bought a new toolkit, but she claims to have no inventive or mechanical skill whatsoever.
  • Olaf says that the stove is like a servant. You have to whack it sometimes to get it to work.
  • Count Olaf's kitchen has a broken pasta machine, which Violet fixes. This particular pasta maker reminds Violet of the one Thomas Jefferson made.

Literature

Music

  • Violet asks Klaus to quote James Brown: "I got something that makes me want to shout; I've got something that tells me what it's all about." They both continue, "I'm super bad!". This is a reference to Brown's song "Super Bad".
  • Later on, Violet asks Klaus the same question, only for Count Olaf to cut in and say "I feel good." This is a reference to the James Brown song of the same name.
  • Count Olaf and his troupe perform "It's The Count".

Theatre

  • The Bald Man interrupts Count Olaf's soliloquy at the dinner table.

Culture

  • At the beach, Violet asks Klaus to quote Albert Einstein: "The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science."
  • An associate of Lemony Snicket, Brillat-Savarin, an 18th century philosopher and gourmand, once famously said, "To invite people to dine with us is to make ourselves responsible for their well-being as long as they are under our roofs."
  • Count Olaf's pasta maker reminds Violet of the one Thomas Jefferson made.

Foods and beverages

  • Edgar and Albert Poe debate about whether their meal is a raven or a crow, which is a reference to a famous Edgar Allen Poe poem,The Raven.  
  • Mrs. Poe reveals that it is in fact boiled chicken. She also served boiled potatoes and blanched string beans, which Klaus explains means boiled.
  • Justice Strauss was planning on cutting up a baguette and doing something with the cut-up bread and white bean hummus.
  • Justice Strauss prepared a lamb with homemade mint jelly and brings it over to Count Olaf's house to gift it to the Baudelaires. Olaf eats it instead and tells Strauss the children said it was too salty.
  • The children decide to make pasta puttanesca. Klaus wonders what this means in Italian. The dish includes pasta, sautéd garlics and onions, as well as olives, capers, anchovies, diced parsley and tomatoes.
  • Count Olaf's troupe drink wine, specifically "a box of the Merlote", as the children prepare the dinner.
  • Once, the Baudelaire's father accidentally burnt quesadillas, and said, "Better than nothing."
  • Sunny reveals that they made chocolate pudding for dessert, and the Hook-Handed Man and Bald Man understand her.
  • Justice Strauss drinks an (possibly) aqueous martini in her library.

Organizations

  • Snicket mentions that at the time of the Baudelaire Fire, neither the official fire department nor the Volunteer Fire Department, arrived in time to stop it.
  • Justice Strauss belongs to the High Court. One difficult case she's about to work on involves an illegal use of someone's credit card, and a poisonous plant.

Businesses

People

  • According to Lemony Snicket, one of the Poe brothers followed his father into the world of banking, while the other lives in a cave and talks to sheep.

Defined words

  • When Snicket describes the story as "dreadful, melancholy and calamitous", he describes calamitous as "dreadful and melancholy".
  • Snicket defines rickety as "unsteady" or "likely to collapse at any moment."
  • The trolleyman says "festive means fun".
  • Describing Sunny, Snicket says infant is a word which here means "a person of the age at which one mostly speaks in a series of unintelligible shrieks".
  • As Mr. Poe explains, "perished means killed".
  • As Klaus tells Albert, blanched means boiled.
  • According to Mr. Poe, hasty means "quickly, because I'm due at the bank soon".
  • Klaus defines mitzvah as a "commandment", but Justice Strauss claims it means "blessing".
  • Olaf says that there is only in acting a certain something which the French call escargot, which means snails.

Story notes

  • While titled The Bad Beginning: Part One on the Netflix website, the actual title card has it A Bad Beginning: Part One.

Filming locations

to be added

Production errors

to be added

Deviations from the novel

  • Rather than examining the creatures at Briny Beach, Klaus helps Violet with her invention.
  • While in the novel, Violet never gets the chance to complete her invention, due to the arrival of Mr. Poe, in the adaptation her device successfully retrieves the rock before his arrival.
  • Mr. Poe tells the Baudelaires he works at Mulctuary Money Management in this version, while in this book they don't know which bank he works at, and spend a lengthy amount of time later on trying to find him in the banking district.
  • Eleanora Poe, the editor of The Daily Punctilio, is here Mr. Poe's wife, rather than his sister. (The characters of Polly and Eleanora Poe are thus merged in one.)
  • While in the book, Mrs. Poe buys the Baudelaires ugly and itchy clothing during their stay at the Poe residence, here the children continue to wear the clothes they were already wearing.
  • Rather than making Sunny a small cot out of the window curtains, and taking turns on the floor and on the one bed provided, all three Baudelaires sleep together on their one cramped bed.
  • During the dinner scene, in the book, when Olaf slaps Klaus, the theatre troupe laughs, and some of them even applaud Olaf. In the TV series, they're shocked and silently leave the room.
  • Instead of a bland introduction to the theatre troupe, they have an entire song together with Count Olaf.

Continuity

Home video releases

DVD releases

to be added

Blu-ray releases

to be added

Gallery

External links

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