Browsing the archives for the entertainment and popular culture category.


Peter Pan the Undead

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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.

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James Garner, 1928-2014

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entertainment and popular culture

As my old pappy used to say, a man does what he has to do — if he can’t get out of it.” — Maverick (series)

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Lou Reed, 1942-2013

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entertainment and popular culture

A patriarch of rock.

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Entertainment Note

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entertainment and popular culture

If you get BBC America, note that BBC-A is rerunning the first season of “Orphan Black,” beginning tonight. If you haven’t seen it, now is your chance.

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And Now For Something Completely Different

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entertainment and popular culture

Apparently this was on Conan —

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Indoctrinating Our Children!

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entertainment and popular culture
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Hair

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entertainment and popular culture

This one’s for c u n d gulag — Jennifer Granholm on the Dating Game in 1978.

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Good Morning

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entertainment and popular culture

As a kind of follow up to the last post, please enjoy the first movement of Bach’s 2nd Brandenburg concerto:

As mentioned in the last post, Bach submitted his Brandenburg concertos as a kind of job application to a Prussian prince of some sort named Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg-Schwedt, who is chiefly remembered today as the guy who didn’t give Bach a job. At the time, Bach was employed as Kapellmeister for Prince Ludwig of Anhalt-Köthen and, apparently, Bach was not happy with his boss. However, Christian Ludwig stuffed the compositions in a drawer and didn’t have them performed. The manuscript went undiscovered for 99 years after Bach had died, and the Brandenburg concertos were performed in public for the first time the following year, a full century after Bach had died.

This second concerto has the particular honor of being included on recordings sent into space with the two Voyager probes.

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Wild, Wild East

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entertainment and popular culture

Watching the equestrian section of the men’s modern pentathlon on live stream. Quelle une hoot. The contestants have to ride a horse they’ve just met for the first time around a jumping course. The horsies have their own plans, however. I think they’re planning to give a gold medal to the horse that causes the most trouble. One poor South Korean rider was not only bucked off, he was rolled on. He and the horse were both OK.

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Today in Sports

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entertainment and popular culture

If you’re the least bit curious about what’s going on in the gold medal (semifinal, sorry) game men’s basketball game in London — now in progress — you can follow the action on a live blog. It’s not being shown live on NBC, naturally.

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