Miniseries Review: ‘Neverland’ When Peter Learned to Fly

A week ago, I watched a two part mini-series that aired this month on the Syfy channel called Neverland.  As you can probably guess, it is based on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan (which I reviewed in an earlier post here), but also predictably, it is very loosely based.

I will start off by saying that I very much enjoyed the miniseries.  I watched it knowing full well that it would not be a play by play of the book.  The preview (given at the bottom) told me that from the start and knowing what I do of Syfy, I expected it to be a creative reinterpretation.  I think it’s important to have reasonable expectations when watching something that is based on literature.  Otherwise, you will spend the entire film griping rather than actually assessing whether it is worth watching on its own merit or not.

Now, I will do my best to discuss the miniseries without giving away anything, but if you are terribly nervous about it and don’t want to accidentally find out that everyone dies at the end – I mean… any of the details, go hunt down the miniseries and watch it before reading on.

What Did I Like?

Why is Hook hugging Peter Pan? And where's his hook???

The story explains how Peter, the Lost Boys, and Hook came to arrive in Neverland and sets up a sort of possible prequel to the story of Peter Pan that we know.  I found this intriguing and original because there was no Wendy, no longstanding feud between Peter Pan and Captain Hook, and no adventures at all yet in Neverland for Peter and the Lost Boys.  We get to see who they were before they went to Neverland.

I loved the creation of Neverland itself.  It is extremely beautiful, dangerous, and alien.  When the boys come to Neverland, you feel as though you were somewhere very, very different.  Strange woods, ten-legged monstrous crocs, and vast expanses of cliffs and mountains give the viewers a sense of vastness and also of being far from home.

And finally, the characters, I thought, were generally well done.  Peter is a cocky, but sweet and brave young boy, and his relationship with James Hook is an interesting one.  The pirates and Lost Boys, as well as Tinker Bell, did a good job in their secondary roles.

What Was I Less Thrilled About?

I said that the series is a spin off of the original Peter Pan legend so it is not trying to be ‘accurate’ per se.  It interprets and changes different things in order to tell a good story, and I really have no problem with that.  However, the show did attempt to weave in many of the key Peter Pan elements, such as how he learned to fly, how Hook ended up with, well, a hook, and the relationship between Peter Pan and Tinkerbell.  It did a very nice job, too.  But there is one thing about the story of Peter Pan that the show promisingly picked up and then rudely dropped and I found that a bit jarring.  I won’t go into detail, but if you know anything about the book, you will know that the Peter Pan of the book is a very carefree, forgetful person.  He nearly forgets about Wendy and the boys while they are flying to Neverland.  He is Pan, a heedless and mirthful figure that we might admire, but we cannot truly bond with.

The miniseries began to do something with the idea of Peter Pan as the mirthful, but forgetful character, utterly lacking in maturity and growth, but then the director seemed to change his mind and a truly brilliant idea was lost.

The other issue that really bothered me was how rushed the ending was.  It had a good, steady pace up until the last bit and then seemed to realize that it was out of time just when most viewers would really have liked to see a little more development of the final stages.  The ending was too fast.

To Sum Up:

All in all, it is well worth watching, so long as you know what you are dealing with.  It is Syfy, so there is science mixed into the fantasy (which in itself might make you twitch since Neverland is the antithesis of scientific study), the interpretation is deliberately not by the book, and it is certianly not a high budget film.  On the other hand, it is a fun story with beautiful scenery about a character that many of us are quite fond of, despite his flaws.

I will add as a final note that while the series is relatively clean, there are a few brief scenes that involve two characters in bed.  They are short and nondescript, but they are there, so bear that in mind.  Otherwise, this is an enjoyable adventure series for older children, as well as adults.


About Melissa

generally in love with things Celtic, mythological, fantastic, sharp and pointy, cute and fuzzy, intellectual, snarky, cheerful, or some combination thereof. Such things as sarcastic bunnies wielding claymores might come to mind...

Posted on December 27, 2011, in Children's Literature, Lantern Hollow Press Authors, Melissa Rogers, Movie Reviews, Science Fantasy and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. do you know where one could view this series?

    • Well, I know that it is replaying on TV on different channels like BBC or the SyFy channel, so you might Google it and see if you can figure out when it’s playing. Otherwise, you can await the DVD. The third option, which I cannot in good conscience recommend, but I will mention, is looking online for websites that have it independently uploaded. These aren’t strictly legal, though, so alternative means would definitely be better.

  2. I think the scientific part–though totally un-Barrie-related, was one of the stronger points of the series. It was one of those “huh. ok. yeah.” moments that made me think twice, but seemed like a completely reasonable way that a sci-fi motivated person would interpret a possible Neverland. And you are so, so right about the flaws in Peter’s character. I hated it! Peter was just too…old. Too smart, too caring, not nearly immature enough. I used the series as sort of an excuse to write about Peter Pan in a larger sense on my blog–I’d love if you took a look!

  3. Does anyone know of this miniseries coming out with more? I loved it, was addicting and couldn’t stop watching. I hope they keep going with it. Great twist to the original. Any information on them coming out with more, Please feel free to get ahold of me via facebook. Thanks.

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