‘Neverland’ review

Nick Willing’s “Neverland” miniseries of 2011  ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1720619) is on Netflix…and it is awesome!  (Note: this impression comes to you from someone who’s familiar with the lore but has not read the classic book.)   This comes to you without spoilers.

Neverland

First off, the casting is perfect.  Rhys Ifans is the man who becomes Hook.  It’s shivery-good.  Anna Friel has a ball as the Caribbean pirate captain.  Q’orianka Kilcher as Tiger Lily elevated the character to a respected heroine.  Charlie Rowe is the first Peter Pan I’ve seen whose mistakes instantly and automatically made me think, “It’s because he’s a child!” instead of having to be reminded of that.  All of the Lost Boys had a believable dynamic and a few refreshingly differentiated themselves from the group.  It was especially wonderful to see Peter interacting with his gang in London.  This show did an excellent job showing why these boys would follow him, not just any boy who could fly.  Particularly when they question Peter’s leadership.  Secondly, the added elements explaining how everyone reached Neverland start off with enough kick and mystery to match Neverland’s wonder, but the writers were smart enough to keep these additions on the fringe instead of overwhelming the original story with them.  Thirdly, once in Neverland the dynamics between the characters and that world felt organic.  You could really tell who had formed a balance with the world and who hadn’t.  It brought everything to life.  Fourthly, each element of the world included in “Neverland”  is adequately explored.  You feel you really know how it feels to live with the “Injuns” or with the fairies (known here as “tree spirits”).  Additionally, their backstory deepens, but doesn’t really depart from what I knew of these people before.  I could look at the screen and draw a clear link between what was happening there and the actions seen in “Peter Pan” with no trouble whatsoever.  It was glorious.  Without having specific expectations or predictions, I found myself sitting there going “Of course!”  That’s always the best kind of prequel.  The only nitpick I have is that they did not include mermaids.  However, everything else was so well done that I felt satisfied without them and imagine that another element might have easily just thrown the whole thing off.  Fifth and lastly, this version finally answers Barrie’s contention that children are heartless to my satisfaction.  That is, they agree with his premise that childhood itself can be heartless, but then go on to say individual people create connections and surround themselves in memories so much that even children cannot remain heartless without very special circumstances.  This might drive purists nuts, but I love it.  And I loved watching this.

I highly recommend this show.

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