The time has come. That title ends in an explanation point because, like NBC’s Sound of Music Live! last Christmastime, Peter Pan Live! is eager to please. The costumes are neon, the expressions big enough to reach the back row (though there isn’t one, because remember, this is network television), and the wires’ visibility add a twisted suspense that Music lacked. The live TV musical is a guilty pleasure that we now (presumably) can expect once a year.
Let’s first mention Allison Williams– she’s a great fit. Her slim build, smooth voice, comedic timing, and perfect teeth help make a believable Peter, though yes, I did already love her as Marnie in Girls and would probably have defended Williams had the performance been bad. But it wasn’t. Granted, often when she broke into song I thought of Marnie channeling Kanye, but that wasn’t nearly as distracting as Christopher Walken’s eyebrows. Watching Walken as Captain Hook in general is painful. His sing-talking brings the energy down, and his dance moves gave me confidence, which says a lot because anyone who’s seen me dance knows it’s embarrassing. In a brief tap sequence, Walken’s shoes feature bows the size of a southern baby girl’s, though later the bows are gone. I think they were used in the one tap bit solely as distraction. So shiny. So large. In short, it’s hard to believe Hook is a bad, murderous man.
There were plenty of other things to frown about. The Lost Boys appeared old, and their costumes were an overwhelming hybrid of Pinocchio and Willy Wonka. Wendy (Taylor Louderman) was driving the struggle bus. The camera movements were at times so quick I thought I might get nauseous, though that’s the fun of being live. Sometimes the vocals were too low and sometimes people used feminine pronouns to describe Peter. I never understood a thing Michael (John Allyn) was saying (though when you could see him asking John [Jake Lucas] to scoot over on the bunkbed it was priceless). And with any re-made beloved musicals, there were decisions made that offended me, like the look of the croc and the use of a weird animated Tinkerbell rather than a simple light. But we watched it all as it happened.
In positive news, the dancers featured were good (particularly compared to the, albeit minimal, dancers in Music) and Cookie the Pirate was The Real MVP. Wendy somehow learned to speak fairy, and the maid who was asleep in the closet woke up. This TV movie was humorous, and much better than Music. Maybe because Carrie Underwood didn’t yodel in this one. If you didn’t catch it live, I’m sure you’ll be able to find it online, and hopefully that means you’ll miss the countless Walmart commercials the rest of us endured. Either way, it’s three hours well spent, whether you laugh at or with Pan.