Based on the beloved A Series of Unfortunate Events books by Lemony Snicket (the pen name of American author Daniel Handler), Netflix’s series, now in its second season, offers an original and visually astounding retelling of the classic story. This revisioning has given something more than the 2004 film version starring Jim Carrey could because of the time limitations of a feature. As the Hollywood Reporter puts it, the series fully allows the viewer to “bask in the visually topsy-turvy and verbally dextrous world”. Composer Jim Dooley’s musical compositions enhance the world with even more emotion. In the exclusive interview below, the Emmy-winning composer shares a behind the scenes glimpse of how he creates the enchanting score we have all come to love.
S&P: There are many different styles of music in A Series of Unfortunate Events. Did you have a favorite from Season 2?
Jim Dooley: The opening of “The Carnivorous Carnival” is one of my favorites. It was also one of the most challenging pieces to write. There is a caper going on simultaneously with a dance sequence. Having to tell the caper story while keeping the party going was very difficult. In addition, I recorded it with a live jazz orchestra!
S&P: The 2004 film version of A Series of Unfortunate Events features a score composed by Thomas Newman. Did you go back and watch it out of curiosity before starting work on the Netflix series?
Jim Dooley: I did watch the film before starting on the series. It was very well done and I’m always a fan of Thomas Newman’s work.
S&P: We heard that you played drums made out of real tortoise shells for the Season 2 score. What other unusual objects have you used for your scores?
Jim Dooley: The [tortoise shell]“Amphibiophone” is definitely one of the weirdest objects to be used in one of my scores. The other instruments that are a bit odd are Wine Glass Celeste, Paper Towel Roll Marimba, and an organ I made out of Whirly Tubes.
S&P: In the Season 2 finale we see the Baudelaire children actually happy for a moment on the roller coaster, something we rarely see in the series. How did you convey this with your score?
Jim Dooley: I wanted to give a sense of what a child feels at a theme park. The world melts away and it’s nothing but fun and optimism. Although, in ASOUE, it ends quite quickly.
S&P: When do you begin Season 3, and will there be any major musical differences?
Jim Dooley: Things continue to get worse for The Baudelaires… The challenge is to continue to evolve as the books change but at the same time keep it consistent. Also, there may be some yodeling.
S&P: After the recent cancellation of Roseanne, Bryan Fuller teased on Twitter that ABC should consider rebooting his series Pushing Daisies, featuring your Emmy-winning score. Would you be up for a reboot of the fan favorite?
Jim Dooley: I think it’s a great time to bring back a show about romance and magic. We need more of that in this world. I’m hoping it comes back, as do many fans of the show. For a show about the touch of one person bringing the dead back to life, that’s exactly what our show needs
S&P: You have scored almost every medium throughout your career: horror films, Disney video games, theme park rides, commercials, musicals, and TV shows. Is there a type of project you would like to explore?
Jim Dooley: For me, I like the diversity. It keeps things fresh and you don’t fall into a routine. The variety keeps me sharp!
You can learn more about Jim Dooley at http://jimdooley.com/