Every weekend, Andrew Lloyd Weber’s company posts a stage-to-screen adaptation of a beloved musical on YouTube, and lately they’ve been plumbing the depths of NBC’s “Live!” musical catalog. We got The Sound of Music, and Hairspray, and The Wiz, all of which were a real treat… but it was only a matter of time before Peter Pan’s number came up and now here we are.
Look, it’s not that the 2014 live broadcast of the creaky 1954 musical is bad, exactly. It’s just that if musicals were Christmas presents, this one would be socks. And not even fun socks, but business socks. “Oh… sure…thank you,” we can all say to NBC, while scrubbing around in the YouTube video looking for Christopher Walken’s brief appearances, “yes, that’s … fine.”
Fortunately, there are a handful of better Peter Pan videos out there to entertain us.
Every time I watch the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Scene from the movie Pan, I remember just how insane the whole thing is. It’s a glorious sequence of WAIT, WHAT? From the boy’s opening line to Hugh Jackman’s muttering bellowing delivery and of course the incredibly bewildering song choice—this is the level of weird to which NBC’s Peter Pan ought to have aspired.
Speaking of bewildering, I also recommend the wildly inappropriate “don’t try to stop me” scene from the movie Hook. You know what every children’s movie needs? A main character attempting suicide, comedically, concluding with the line “death is the only great adventure.”
Dustin Hoffman and Bob Hoskins are perfectly cast here as a barely coded queer pirate couple. Their bonkers muttering to each other is the highlight of a film that you can otherwise watch with your finger on fast-forward.
But if you’re a musical obsessive and you absolutely must have a full-length Peter Pan musical in your life, I recommend familiarizing yourself with the original NBC live broadcast from 1955.
It was part of an extravagant color broadcast meant to advertise TV sets (NBC was owned by a company that made TVs) and it is at some points a quite-charming antique, and at other times suuuuuuuper racist. It’s not what I’d call “good,” but it is at least interesting to see the foundation on which future musical broadcasts were built.
The 2014 version of Peter Pan will publish starting at 11am on Friday, and will remain available for 48 hours, if you really have nothing better to do.