Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, December 7th, 2014.


Peter Pan the Undead

-->
entertainment and popular culture

I only watched some of ‘Peter Pan Live” on NBC three or so nights ago, but I gave it a B minus. The “flying” was klutzy, but the actors on the whole did a good job. I understand the singing was not actually live, which seems like cheating and rather negates the fun of it being live at all.

The reviews, which have been mixed but mostly meh, missed a lot of points, though. One reviewer complained there was no live audience reacting to it, which killed it for her. I may be forgetting, but I don’t think the old Mary Martin television version had a live audience either. A couple of reviewers didn’t seem to realize Peter Pan Live (PPL) was a revival of a 1954 musical (Mary Martin? who?). One thought it was the 1904 or whatever play set to music, and another thought it was too “British” and that the actress who played Mrs. Darling, Wendy et al.’s mother, was “underused.”

There were also complaints about the three hour time, and one review said that the show had been padded with songs from other musicals. Was it? I watched parts of it and may have missed those. The frequent commercial breaks didn’t help, though.

Best tweet: “It needed more cowbell.”

A few things that bothered me —

I remember the Tiger Lily tribe as being children, or at least they were like children. I saw a video of the Mary Marin production (MMPP) not many years ago and remember the tribe riding 1950s-style kiddie scooters and maybe a couple of tricycles. In PPL, the Tiger Lily tribe were not just adult men; they were a muscular crew wearing skimpy costumes. Under most circumstances I’m happy to watch muscular dancing men in skimpy costumes, but in PPL I confess it made me a little uncomfortable. Good thing the feathered loin cloths stayed in place, although a wardrobe malfunction probably would have been a real “first” for NBC and boosted DVD-Blu Ray sales.

It’s traditional for the same actor to play Mr. George Darling, Wendy et al.’s father, and Captain Hook. There was an earlier musical version (music by Leonard Bernstein) that had Boris Karloff playing Papa/Hook. Cyril Ritchard was Mr. Darling and Captain Hook in MMPP, and I’ve sometimes wondered if Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow wasn’t at least partly inspired by Ritchard’s Hook. Or maybe I read that somewhere. Anyway, in PPL Christopher Walken played Captain Hook only. The same actor (Christian Borle) who played Mr. Smee was also Mr. Darling, although I didn’t realize that until I looked it up, because the two characters bore no resemblance to each other. Even so, that doesn’t send the same message.

The larger point is that in MMPP, Neverland was a land of children, and the villainous pirates were the only adults. The pirates, led by a captain who subliminally represented Father, an adult authority, were infuriated by or perhaps jealous of youth itself. In PPL, not only was the Tiger Lily tribe adult, but some of the Lost Boys clearly were old enough to shave, and had been for a few years. So the subtle psychological undertones were muddled.

I give PPL points for casting an actual dog actor, Bowdie, in the role of Nana. The crocodile was not played by an actual crocodile, but was a hoot and definitely underused. Christopher Walken underplayed Hook, which seemed a little out of step with the general rah-rah of the rest of the cast, but reviewers mostly loved him. I thought Allison Williams was fine as PP, although her singing voice is less robust than was Mary Martin’s. And, of course Allison Williams isn’t Mary Martin, who developed the musical and that role for herself and pretty much owns it even now.

Many of us children of the 1950s fondly remember being allowed to stay up to watch the black and white, not technically sophisticated Peter Pan with Martin and Ritchard. Whether children in the age of CGI graphics feel the same about PPL, who knows? The ending, with Wendy’s daughter flying off with Peter Pan, strikes me as a bit creepy now. And the strings were showing. Maybe the thing really is past its prime.

I understand ratings fell short of what was expected, but you don’t run a three-hour-long children’s program on a school night. Duh, NBC.

Share Button
14 Comments

The Weekly Smoke and Mirrors

-->
American History

Weekly Standard headline on article by Daniel Halper: “NYTimes Fails to Disclose Clinton Paid for Interviews About Administration.”

Wow, the Times paid Hillary Clinton for interviews? That’s really odd, but … oh, wait, that’s not what happened.

In a five year span, the William J Clinton Foundation gave five grants totaling $851,250 to the University of Virginia’s Miller Center. One year in particular, 2007, the Clinton gift was specifically marked: “Oral history project of Clinton presidency.”

Well, today the New York Times has a front page feature on the newly released oral history project about the Clinton presidency. The one the Clintons helped pay for. But nowhere in the 2,600 word piece do Times writers Amy Chozick (who is on the Clinton beat) and Peter Baker (longtime White House reporter) disclose the obvious conflict of interest.

Per Halpern’s article, in 2007 the Clinton Foundation marked $144,350 to pay for an oral history project of the Clinton presidency. The other four grants were not so marked. In the Times article about the oral history project, the Times failed to disclose that some of the funding for the project came from the Clinton Foundation. Halpern insinuates this was money being used to pay for fodder to help HRC’s assumed presidential bid in 2016. (Money spent in 2007? Was this about 2008? But the interviews weren’t made public until recently.)

But the Times article Halpern whines about suggests the oral history, which discusses HRC as First Lady, isn’t necessarily flattering to HRC and actually undermines some of her claims about her role as FLOTUS. And in fact Halpern couldn’t resist quoting some of the unflattering stuff about HRC’s screwups, thereby refuting his own thesis. But then he sneers, “An image of a strong, smart, loyal Hillary Clinton is one the former first lady will surely want 2016 voters to have of her. So perhaps it’s safe to say the Clinton Foundation’s $851,250 to the University of Virginia’s Miller Center was money well spent.”

In fact, the “oral history project” really isn’t really about the Clintons exclusively. Per the Miller Center website,

The Presidential Oral History Program is systematically and comprehensively debriefing the principal figures in the administrations of Presidents Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Clinton, with plans to do the same for future presidents. We are also conducting special projects on important topics in political history, including a six-year oral history on the life and career of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Further,

The Presidential Oral History Program is a public service endeavor to provide such means and to preserve the true voices of past presidencies for posterity. …

… Accordingly our approach, first developed in the Center’s 1981–85 interview study of the Carter White House, differs from traditional interview practice in several respects. Rather than concentrating on a particular personality, issue or type of activity, we endeavor to cover in our interview program all the key actors in the administration together with the important issues and activities in which they were involved. Rather than one-on-one interviews, our interviews are normally conducted by teams of three or four scholars in several sessions over a two-day period. … Rather than Q&A sessions, the interviews may be likened to seminars in which former officials are teachers about the presidency in which they served and interviewers are students who want to have a better understanding of that presidency than is likely to be gained from news stories, memoirs, or public documents alone.

In other words, the Clintons were not in control of the interviews and were not paying for fluff and flattery. Halpern is crafting a “scandal” out of smoke and mirrors. So typical of the Weekly Standard.

Share Button
3 Comments


    About this blog

    About Maha
    Comment Policy

    Vintage Mahablog
    Email Me
















    eXTReMe Tracker













      Technorati Profile