December 14, 2011 § 11 Comments
In Part One of my response to SyFy Channel’s latest offering, Neverland, I left you with one of my favorite quotes from J.M. Barrie’s original novel, Peter and Wendy. Need a refresher? Here:
“You are so queer,” [Peter] said [to Wendy], frankly puzzled, “and Tiger Lily is just the same. There is something she wants to be to me, but she says it is not my mother.”
“No, indeed, it is not,” Wendy replied with frightful emphasis.
And there are those who think children’s literature is sweet and uncomplicated.
In my last post, I wrote a ton (I know, these posts are getting long…) about the stakes for each character in Peter Pan: what they want, what they have to lose. Creative Writing 101. In SyFy’s Neverland, I concluded, the stakes for both Peter and Hook are never clearly defined, though they have much to do with power, pixie dust, and proving oneself. But if you were to look back at Barrie’s novel, you’d find that the stakes are, as I said last time, more personal and emotional, and no one has more defined stakes than Wendy—even if the most apt words used to describe them are “something…but not my mother.”
In a little-known but beautiful musical version (not the one Mary Martin made famous, I mean less known, musical theatre trivia fans) composed by Leonard Bernstein, he of West Side Story and Candide, Peter is, as is traditional, played by a girl, but that doesn’t stop Wendy from coming right out with it, in the catchiest little way:
Peter, Peter, you’ve got a smudge on your face/
Allow me, Peter, Peter, to wipe it away/
I know it’s just an old excuse to feel your touch/
But I want to feel your touch!
Make no mistake: Wendy’s experiencing her first love. « Read the rest of this entry »