Adaptation Review: The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy (Season One)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

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The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy (Season One)

Starring: Peter Pan and Wendy Darling- Kyle Walters and Paula Rhodes
Michael and John Darling, Lily Bagha- Brennan Murray and Graham Kurtz, Lovlee Carroll

Writers: Kyle Walters and Shawn Deloache

Summary: Everyone has to grow up, right? Well, not if Peter Pan has anything to say about it! Peter, a late-twenties man-child and comic book artist living in the small town of Neverland Ohio, has three life goals: 1) NEVER GROW UP! 2) Have as much fun as humanly possible while doing as little work as possible. 3) Win the heart of his best friend, Wendy Darling. With his friends John, Michael, Lily and his fairy, Tinker Bell, Peter is nailing goals 1 and 2. Goal 3, however, is a bit trickier.
Wendy Darling, an advice blogger and overall go-getter, is tired of the never-changing small town of Neverland Ohio and wants to see the world, to become… an adult. It’s Peter vs. Growing Up in the battle for Wendy! But is growing up really the enemy? Or is it the solution?

My Review:

I love this series more than words can say! As a child I never really liked Peter Pan. I never really understood the appeal of Neverland with the pirates and crocodiles. Also, Peter and Wendy always kind of annoyed me. I thought Peter was kind of creepy and needed to calm down and Wendy needed to realize that Peter did not see girls as anything other than mothers so her crush was pointless. I did understand not wanting to grow up though. The reason this adaptation of Peter Pan finally connects for me is the unique portrayal of the plot and characters and the real life idea of not wanting to embrace the changes that adulthood brings.

I think The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy does a fabulous job capturing Peter and Wendy’s struggle as they grow up. I love the differences between Wendy and John who have tried to grow up (as best they could with Peter around), and Peter and Michael who have done everything they possibly can to avoid it. These differences are portrayed in the way the story is set up. Neverland is not a mystical place second to the right and straight on till morning, but instead it is a small town in Ohio. The New Adventures puts these famous characters in a real life place and asks: What if Peter DID have to grow up? Peter Pan is known around the world as the boy who never grew up, but in this adaptation he did grow up (sort of). Now he is twenty something years old and a comic book artist, but just because he has a job and is technically an adult due to his age, he is still a child at heart. (However, despite Neverland being a real town and a place where it is impossible for a child not to age, there is still magic in Neverland! The band Mermaid Lagoon has actual Mermaids as members, Kensington Darling, ancestor of our Darlings, found the first fairies in America in the Garden of Lights, and of course Peter has a fairy, Tinkerbell.) Peter spends the course of the first season trying to talk Wendy out of wanting to “grow up” which to her means leaving their small hometown and seeing the world, also leaving behind Peter himself who will never leave Neverland.

            This adaptation’s Wendy Darling is close to my heart. She is practical, goal oriented, and kind. She wants to get out and see the world. Right off the bat in the first episode the New Adventures starts tackling issues that are plaguing women today. Wendy gets a letter from a “Dear Darling” viewer asking her how she deals with being old. To which Wendy replies, “I forgot! That being a woman, 27, and single basically equates to being dead. I will start digging my own grave as soon as I finish making this lovely dress of cat hair and tears.” In today’s society that is still not really too keen on the idea of equality of the sexes this hits home. Wendy spends the first season torn between two equally important things: love and a career. Wendy, like most women today, feel as if she cannot have both.

            As for this adaptation’s Michael and John Darling? They are so much more that I ever thought they could be! Michael is on Peter’s side of the growing up debate. He is very much the baby of the season despite being in his early twenties probably. Michael still carries around a stuffed bear backpack and in the modern fashion of the New Adventures seems to spend most of his time trying to get on a reality TV so as to become famous (like so many of our generation it seems). John on the other hand takes after Wendy. He is arguably the most grown up of them all. He has his life completely planned out (literally even has it planned on paper). He likes order and cleanliness, the complete and utter opposite of his brother. And yet the two Darling brothers are the comic relief of the series. It wouldn’t be as good without them, whereas in all the other adaptations I’ve ever seen or read they don’t seem necessary at all. Where’s Tiger Lily fit into all this you ask? Well in New Adventures Lily is a rich fashion heiress and CEO who will do anything to get Peter to herself. But she isn’t all bad. She is the foil of Wendy in that she too is in her late twenties and single, but she is successful due to her family business. She knows exactly what she wants and nothing will stop her. She is determined to have both career and family.

Part of what I adore about The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy is the subtle and sometimes not so subtle hints to the original story. The subtle, that one would only catch if they have read the book, such as Wendy’s opening lines:

“All children grow up and I knew this sooner than most. When I was, like, two years old I was in this garden picking flowers and I plucked one, brought it to my mother and she looked down at it and said ‘Ugh. Why can’t you stay this way forever, darling? It is all downhill once you turn two. The beginning of the end. And that’s why God invented Happy Hour! WAITER! I spilled’ This is when I knew I had to grow up.”

This is almost exactly like the opening paragraph that introduces the readers to Wendy and in a roundabout way to Peter, the boy who never grew up. Later in the same episode our introduction to Peter (outside of the prologue) is when he sneaks in through Wendy’s window, scares her and says, “It’s not my fault I move like a shadow” alluding to his original entrance when he accidentally left his shadow behind and had to go back for it. As for the not so subtle I refer back to the aforementioned prologue in which Peter tells the tale of the founding of Neverland Ohio by J.M. Barrie. If that isn’t a reference I don’t know what is. It is these references big and small that make this adaptation spectacular! Another great thing about the New Adventures is that the show is multimedia with each character having their own twitter and the paper that the characters work at has an actual website (you can watch an introduction video to the paper here (intro video contains spoilers for season one))!

            The New Adventures of Peter and Wendy is truly a wonderful show that I hope continues. I loved this show so much while it was airing its first season that when they put up an Indiegogo asking their fans to fund their second season I didn’t hesitate to contribute (gaining the season one DVD, a signed Darling brothers picture, a signed drawing by Kyle Walters aka Peter Pan, and a “Neverland Ohio” magnet in the process)! I am glad to say that the second season of the show starts tomorrow on EpicRobotTV’s Youtube channel and this season promises to be even better than the first with the introduction of Hook, Smee, and Mr. Darling! You can watch the trailer for season two here (and season one’s trailer here). If you haven’t already watched season one (which you really truly should) you can find the entire playlist here or if you’d prefer you can buy it on DVD (and other merch) here!

Until next time Neverlandians,