Gators Gonna Gate, Or Why Peter Pan Live Wasn’t That Bad, Really

So last night, the folks on Jezebel were all set to hate-tweet NBC’s second annual live musical theater production. This time around, it was #PeterPanLive, starring Allison Williams, aka Brian Williams’ daughter and some kind of star on HBO or something we don’t watch. Once again, I set up to watch live, or as close to live as possible given that we had to put dinner together, but I caught up via TiVo. And I tweeted, and tweeted, and hung out at Jezebel in the “live blog,” trying to get out of the “greys” (the pending comments).

Today, Jezebel followed up with the five most mockable moments, including this oddity, which was stuck in the middle of a commercial break:

First of all, I’ve only highlighted five moments because Peter Pan Live!, first and foremost, was terribly boring. Not only is it a dull play to begin with, but this one was starring Allison fucking Williams. And, worse yet, not a single fly wire broke during the show. Point being, I really had to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find five moments that seemed mildly worth the precious time that you and I typically dedicate to Clickhole quizzes. But find them, I did.

via The 5 Most Mockable Moments of Peter Pan Live! .

So I mostly don’t agree that #PeterPanLive was a mockable hot mess for what it was, a musical on live television. Unlike last year’s mess with Whatsername Countrysinger, it wasn’t awful with a few good moments. It was actually pretty good with some awkward bits, uninspired casting. and a less-racist version of the song “Ugga-Wugga-Wug.”

Christopher Walken was weirdly and badly made up, not like his promotional photos had looked, and was moving and speaking slowly (and obviously reading off cue cards and only occasionally camping things up). Also, he had a throne built like a La-Z-Boy recliner that seemed to be ALL THE FAVORITE THINGS for him; he was constantly working the big gold lever to lift the leg rest. Given how little energy he had for dancing, singing, or swordfighting, it may have been written into his contract that he needed a lot of throne time with his legs up. Something was horribly wrong with his eyebrows, so that he looked like Ming the Merciless on Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Still, Allison Williams sang really well, looked disturbingly fey in the part (she has a strong jaw), had sort of British diction, and danced and flew around like a boss.

Wendy looked very mature, as did all the “Lost Boys” but hey, that’s theatre. People on Twitter seemed to be missing Rufio from “Hook” a lot and there was a lot of hooting at the psychedelic croc, but I liked it (and of course it quickly had its own Twitter handle).

They cut some of my favorite stuff, but maybe that’s stuff that was more from the Disney cartoon, like when Peter shouts PIXIE DUST! and makes the pirate ship fly off into the moonlight. And Tinkerbell’s big moment was kind of rushed, and weirdly urgent, since most of the children that needed to clap to keep her alive were asleep by then.

The length of the show was a problem, especially for a show meant to be viewed by children, as it went too late and most little kids couldn’t stay up. There were a few odd things, like the flight wires being very noticeable (especally when the Darling boys first take off).

And yet, I liked it. I liked the set design, I liked the costumes (especially on the pirates), I liked the stagecraft, I liked (for the most part) the camera work. The weird thing is, that the most memorable parts were the weird things that got in the way of the wonder; Peter Pan is a very odd story and it does have some problems for a modern audience, yet people seem to love it anyway. There was shiny sparkly stuff all over, like theatrical Awesome Sauce. It was like the art director decided that MOAR GLITTER on top of bright, intense blues, greens and purples was a given.

“Pixie Dust: They Put That Shit On Everything.”

Yeah, it was shiny. And ludicrously colorful (yet very beautiful, in some shots). And I appreciated the tricks with forced perspective and false scale that they used for some scenes (such as looking over the London rooftops towards the nursery window). The music was vigorous, the dancing was energetic (if a little over-the-top, especially between Lost Boys and Indian braves). There was a lot that was good, and quite a bit that was unsettlingly creepy (if I’m asked to go on an adventure that consists of cooking, cleaning, and making pockets for boys, no thank you).

Of course, lots of people hated it, hooted at it, complained that it was long and weird. But it was never boring, just odd in the way that dreams are sometimes weirdly beautiful.

And I do hope NBC does something like this again next year – but they should either pick something that’s definitely geared and scheduled for family viewing, or do something wild that starts later but isn’t as long. As long as it’s not remotely a holiday theme, since we get enought of that “event entertainment” stuff this time of year, I’d be happy to watch (and tweet) again next year.

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