Peter Pan Live! (2014)
December 4, 2014 5:50 PM - Subscribe

A live telecast of the beloved J. M. Barrie story.
posted by mathowie (45 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Oh, snap. I completely forgot to set my DVR for this before I left for work. I hope I can find somewhere to watch it later. Unlike other Disney-fied musicals*, the stage play was the first Peter Pan I ever saw (PBS showed the Mary Martin version and my parents taped it and I watched it over and over and over again), so it will always be the RIGHT version of Peter Pan. And Peter Pan was my imaginary friend when I was little. Well, him and Christopher Robin.

*(Don't get me started on the first time I saw Rogers and Hammerstein's Cinderella and THERE WERE NO SINGING MICE! WTF!)
posted by Weeping_angel at 6:03 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Even though it hasn't aired on the West Coast yet, I'm looking at the Gawker live watch thread and... it's going to be EPIC.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:35 PM on December 4, 2014

I thought it was a nice show, but it lacked… heart I guess. Hard to put my finger on what I'd change though.
posted by ob1quixote at 8:14 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

This has really terrible camera work in the first fifteen minutes. Tons of weird camera-flying-around shots and then people's backs on screen while they speak lines while other actors are completely blocking speaking actors. Whoever the director is, they're doing a terrible job.
posted by mathowie at 8:19 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

Was Walken inebriated? He was seriously terrible. And the pirate in the red and black striped hat was distractingly like a grinning Aragorn. I kept thinking "Strider, No!" I liked Allison Williams.
posted by Malla at 8:42 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

This was a lot better than Sound of Music was last year, but it still fell flat. I have to lay a lot of this on Allison Williams. It's not that she's bad as in incompetent, it's that she's just pretty much wrong at every point. Her accent is far too posh, for starters. She's using the upper class accent of the daughters in Downton Abbey, which does not signal "youth, boyishness and innocence" at all. Her line readings are very one dimensional, lacking dynamics and energy - many, many times I found myself thinking "if she'd just added a hesitation here, or emphasized this word more..." She's upstaged on the brash and rambunctious front at all times by the ensemble of the Lost Boys - who are really great here, they're an example of what this show got right and what's so fun about live musicals. And all this is a big, big problem because if we're not as fascinated and enchanted by Peter Pan as Wendy is, then there's a huge gaping emotional hole in the show. And I just don't feel like Williams pulled that off.

(I'm curious as to how much live stage theater experience Williams has. Her IMDB resume is really short. If she hasn't done much live theater that might explain a lot of this, and a lot about why she felt like the weak link amid a cast of seasoned stage performers.)

Overall the show to me felt... well, rushed, actually. Like they were feeling the pressure of the time constraints to the point where they couldn't really live in the moments, but had to just keep going going going. I don't feel like we ever got to really feel and experience the moments of tenderness or magic... because they had to get on with things before the next commercial break.

Walken - well, he's a bit too doddering old man to ever feel villainous. I probably wouldn't have cared about that if the rest of the show had been better. But when his old man-ness finally meets Williams' lack of energy it results in what I saw someone on Twitter call "Ambien sword fighting" - their duel just looks comically bad compared to the splashy and exciting duel the dance ensemble just had right before it.

I really do like that NBC is trying to do these live musicals again, though. I hope they get one wonderfully right someday. This suggests to me that they actually could, if they can just learn to cast them right.
posted by dnash at 8:48 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]

Between Williams hitting more of a straight up seduction of Wendy, the dancing pirates, Walkens laid back dandy Hook, and the hunky lost boys in tight rugby clothes, this was the gayest thing I've seen on NBC since Will Graham got splattered with a man's hot bodily fluids.
posted by The Whelk at 9:18 PM on December 4, 2014 [9 favorites]

Oh and Walken was clearly reading cue cards.
posted by The Whelk at 9:19 PM on December 4, 2014

Basically it would be pretty dull if it wasn't a confusing miasma of gender performance
posted by The Whelk at 9:21 PM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]

MetaFilter: would be pretty dull if it wasn't a confusing miasma of gender performance

I have so many feelings about this. NBC has chosen two pieces that are very special to me as their first forays into live musicals. My baby's first lullaby was... well it wasn't "Tender Shepherd," but "Hook's Waltz." I wish I could have livetweeted this.

I'm still watching it (just got past "Hook's Waltz," actually) and I have to say that they've changed it so much that it's hard to follow. I certainly didn't think Williams could manage "Oh My Mysterious Lady," which is one of my favorite bits, but oh my sweet Julie Andrews did they make a spectacular cock-up of "Ugg-A-Wugg." Excuse me: "Oh-A-Hey" (oh god I feel dirty even typing that).

I mean, you change the lyrics, but in a musical where you've added songs left and right you keep THIS one? And you KEEP the "Indian" motifs that sound even more stereotypical than the words "Ugg-A-Wugg"?

The accents are killing me. KILLING MEEEEEEE. The fake British ones are terrible to begin with -- agreed that Williams sounds like some DA reject. But that one pirate who sounds somewhere between Scottish and Jude Law in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil...

They made Mr. Darling play Smee. SMEE.

oh my god this is the slowest sword fight ever

I can't bear to tell my mother how un-Cyril Ritchard this thing was. Walken is tossing away her favorite lines like "THAT'S where the CANNNNNker G-NAWWWWS!"

Oh this is just...
posted by Madamina at 9:35 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

I honestly love what a strange train wreck these things are, I hope we get one every year and they're just as odd and misguided and earnest.
posted by The Whelk at 9:41 PM on December 4, 2014 [7 favorites]

(I'm going to be spending a week being surprised at things by saying "PEEEETER!" at least.)
posted by The Whelk at 9:44 PM on December 4, 2014

Also telling how one of the better numbers was just letting the two broadway veterans sing a nice ballad together.
posted by The Whelk at 10:04 PM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]

And now I missed my LearnedLeague submission deadline time DAMN YOU NBC
posted by Madamina at 10:08 PM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]

I really do like that NBC is trying to do these live musicals again, though.

Me too, but couldn't they just get the whole Aladdin crew to do their show live on TV someday (I suppose it'd be ABC, since Disney owns that)? I understand they're going for star power in these, but I'd rather have super amazing Broadway professionals that are good at musicals to do great musicals on TV, not famous people stumbling through a play.
posted by mathowie at 10:10 PM on December 4, 2014 [10 favorites]

I liked Sound of Music better, if only because the shot of those gigantic Nazi flags immediately after a commercial break was so genuinely shocking. There wasn't a comparably memorable image this time, or a comparably memorable song like Audra McDonald's "Climb Ev'ry Mountain". I want more of this stuff, but I definitely agree about putting more actual musical theater people in the main cast.

Telling us to tweet #SaveTinkerbell was unsurprising but Allison Williams breaking the fourth wall had more of a "Dora the Explorer" effect than anything.

Christian Borle was fun, they should keep him. The skull tattoo on Smee's left arm was totally some Mandalorian thing from Star Wars though.
posted by Small Dollar at 10:15 PM on December 4, 2014 [3 favorites]

I liked this quite a bit, but somebody should have spiked Walken's drink with a Jolt cola or something.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:26 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree that they need to do this every year.

A) I love big old fashioned musicals

B) it's something we can all tweet/chat about live, sorta (seriously, NBC, makes this a thing we can all watch together simultaneously)

posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 1:29 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

The AV Club review is fairly positive (as I think, despite all my snark, it basically should be -- it was very successful at what it was trying to be) -- but this particular criticism hits the target square in the center at the bolded part:

No one pulls a full Underwood, but both Allison Williams and Christopher Walken fail to rise to the level of the musical theater performers around them. She’s not bad, but she lacks the right impulsive, impish energy for Peter Pan. Despite some impressive wirework and a powerhouse voice, she can’t find the conviction necessary to carry the show
posted by MCMikeNamara at 7:03 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Two words for next time: Kristen Bell.

Also, what do you think they should do next? I was weighing all of the potential ethnic stereotypes and scarring of childhood memories and I have decided on Bye Bye Birdie. How lovely to be a woman, indeed.
posted by Madamina at 7:12 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]


When I compare NBC's Peter Pan to the staged Sweeney Todd concert on PBS this year, NBC falls way, way short. The performances in Sweeney were so, so much better, and so was the filming. I want these every year, but I really want them to be better.

oh my god this is the slowest sword fight ever

Good lord, it was.
posted by gladly at 7:31 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

The highs and lows of Peter Pan Live!

Considering how unrelentingly camp this production was, I suggest My Fair Lady.
posted by The Whelk at 7:44 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh! Actually they announced it, 2015 will be THE MUSIC MAN
posted by The Whelk at 8:10 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]

He's a what? He's a what?

I adorrrrrre The Music Man, but I really hope they get someone a little more salesman-y than poor Matthew Broderick. My friend Greg is available! And he KNOWS it!

oh god I just got "Ya Got Trouble" out of my head, too

posted by Madamina at 8:20 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Dear god, The Music Man, I may have to watch. I successfully avoided the Matthew Broderick version, but the pull...the pull is strong.
posted by PussKillian at 10:01 AM on December 5, 2014

Considering the leads of these things tend to be slightly out of nowhere picks with no real musical theatre background that NBC owns in body and soul it could be ....?
posted by The Whelk at 10:13 AM on December 5, 2014

...Jerry Seinfeld?
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 10:18 AM on December 5, 2014

Basically it would be pretty dull if it wasn't a confusing miasma of gender performance

The boggling mixed signals of “Peter Pan Live!”: Why on earth did NBC decide to do this show?
NBC hewed with the standard set by Mary Martin in the ‘50s and went with Peter Pan being played by an adult woman–and a classically feminine-looking one at that. The result was a lot of hilarious queer subtext—hilarious not because a bunch of women in a love quadrangle is inherently funny, but because it was so obvious that NBC had no intention of creating that subtext. The plot has something to do with all women wanting sex from Peter while he calls them “Mother”; also hilarious, but also depressingly unintentional.

“Peter Pan Live!” was, to be fair, executed adequately. It’s competent, and not a lot more than that.
references Tom and Lorenzo: Random Thoughts on Peter Pan Live
Look, this was bad. We shouldn’t have to say this at the start of a review, but believe it or not, despite our three-hour twitter snarkfest on the topic, we really wanted to be entertained. We wanted to see Christopher Walken wow us all and we even secretly kind of hoped that Allison Williams would blow any criticism or charges of nepotism out of the water with some sort of astonishing breakthrough performance. And while she certainly gave it her all and he definitely managed to supply most of the laughs of the night, it was a limp, sometimes boring, and occasionally amateurish production.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:18 AM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Oh! Actually they announced it, 2015 will be THE MUSIC MAN

posted by almostmanda at 10:38 AM on December 5, 2014 [5 favorites]

"This is like Grindr, the Musical"
posted by The Whelk at 11:32 AM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

Parent of three little kids here, two of which are the exact target audience for this event, and I am baffled why they thought a three hour presentation, which would go at least 90 minutes past the school-night bedtime of 90% of the kids who would want to watch it, was a good idea. We caught the first hour and liked it well enough; judicious editing could have made this an AMAZING one-hour live special that everybody would have been thrilled by. But then, of course, fewer Walmart ads.

I also LOVED the fact that they made no effort at all to hide the wires for the flying scenes. To me, it felt like an explicit note from the producers: "This is not 'Star Wars,' this is an old-school theatrical production, of course you can see the wires."
posted by jbickers at 12:29 PM on December 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

But The Music Man is a summer musical! You can't have it at Christmas!

Mrs Shinn -- hmmm. Maya Rudolph, maybe?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 12:29 PM on December 5, 2014

I said something similar last year, but I really think that the reason the acting felt flat is that there's no give-and-take between performers and audience in these productions. I understand the aesthetic they were going for in shooting it the way they did. I just really feel like having an audience would give the show some life that it's otherwise lacking, even if that means having to shoot entirely from outside the proscenium arch.

The Whelk: Popular tweets from the east coast live feed
They missed the best one.
posted by ob1quixote at 12:50 PM on December 5, 2014 [2 favorites]

And here I thought next year's musical would follow the theme of Musicals Performed at Bolingbrook High School While I Was There (Peter Pan was done my sophomore year and The Sound of Music my senior year), so it would be either My Fair Lady or Babes in Arms. But I'll take The Music Man.
posted by SisterHavana at 1:36 PM on December 5, 2014

Eh, I didn't think it was that bad. Allison Williams sang well and put some real acting behind her important song moments (see: When I Went Home). It may just be that I like a good old-fashioned musical romp, but I thought everyone involved did a basically swell job. Fun dancing, a nice rendition of a tuneful score, and I love a live dog. Unevenness aside, I would much rather see these become an annual tradition than not.

Hate on the updated Ugg-a-Wugg if you want, but they really tried:
To refresh it for modern sensibilities, the songwriter Amanda Green, the daughter of an original “Peter Pan” lyricist, Adolph Green, and David Chase, the production’s music director, worked with Jerod Impichchaachaaha’ Tate, an Emmy-winning composer and member of the Chickasaw Nation in Oklahoma. The nonsense lyrics were replaced with nursery rhymes and the rhythms were shifted to make the song less stereotypical and more authentically Native American.... the music’s rights holders signed off on the changes and Mr. Tate, in an interview with Salon, said that the producers “made all the right moves. I am 100 percent behind what they’re doing. I appreciate it.”

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian also endorsed NBC’s efforts. Kevin Gover, the museum’s director and a member of the Pawnee Nation, released a statement on Wednesday that read, in part: “This new interpretation of Tiger Lily is closer to our heritage, our culture and portrays a deeper sensitivity and helps diminish the many stereotypes surrounding Native Americans.”
Also: I have to say I found it heartening how many commercials for musicals we got to see on primetime TV last night. Means a lot, I think, for all the young potential actors / writers / composers / designers / directors / crew / singers / dancers / choreographers of America.
posted by Zephyrial at 1:52 PM on December 5, 2014 [4 favorites]

Tracey Ullman for Mrs. Shinn. Eric McCormack for Harold Hill. Patton Oswant or James Corden for Marcellus.

I love musicals, but gave up on Peter Pan after half an hour. Musicals shouldn't be boring. They shouldn't be awful either, but better that than just boring.

The comments on the internet weren't quite enough fun to justify it.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:39 AM on December 6, 2014

That's from this Guardian article, which I shall love now and always:

Peter Pan Live!: the five worst moments in NBC's odd three-hour production
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:47 AM on December 6, 2014 [1 favorite]

I had to wait through that whole damn production to see Minnie Driver. SHE WAS THE ONLY GOOD THING IN IT. Damn, time to resurrect her career.

(I like. The father was superb, and - um, I hope this isn't insulting to place in the same sentence - but the dog hit all its cues and turned in good dog actin'.)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:55 AM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

I can't believe I just saw this thread now! My people!!!

I love that they do these. I will watch every year, live, even if I have to stay up way too late. I was so tired at work the next day.

Please cast Christian Borle every year, please. He was such an interesting Father; shame he couldn't have a stab at Hook, too. Saw him do "Peter and the Starcatcher"'s Hook; his Tony was well-earned.

The big problem with this one for me was pacing. It was bloated to be way too long and left too many dead spots. Also thought all the actors were decent but some needed a little stronger direction to keep their energy up. I re-watched the Mary Martin production on YouTube today, and it's SO lively and wonderful.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:40 PM on December 6, 2014 [2 favorites]

Okay who is going to live-FanFare the upcoming SNL takeoff of Peter Pan?
posted by onlyconnect at 8:41 PM on December 6, 2014

Hmn. Star Wars skit was better.
posted by onlyconnect at 8:51 PM on December 6, 2014

I tried to watch, but having no real childhood attachment to the material didn't make me very invested and I didn't last very long. I think it's great that someone is doing old-school live television productions like this, but feels like everyone involved is still relearning how to work this format (live costumed musical but with no studio audience, blocking for cameras and other TV considerations I'm probably not even aware of) after abandoning it decades ago. It sort of reminds me of the way that a once ubiquitous tradecraft like glass sign making (previously) has become an arcane, mysterious art.

I loved The Music Man as a kid*, but Robert Preston's are some tough shoes to fill for me. I want to see the audition reel of all the Mrs Shinn candidates saying Baaaaaalzac. (Kathy Bates?) Patton Oswalt or maybe Zach Galifinakas as Marcellus would be brilliant.

*Although I watched the 1962 film again recently and found the main Harold/Marion arc to be really kind of stalkery, misogynistic and offputting.
posted by usonian at 8:11 AM on December 7, 2014 [1 favorite]

« Older Podcast: Judge John Hodgman: C...   |  Movie: Die Hard... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments