When I first heard about the new Syfy mini-series, Neverland , I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, “Not another one!” However, after watching this screener I am more than excited for everyone to watch this show. This is not just another Peter Pan story. Neverland answers all the questions that may have crossed your mind as you listened to Peter’s story or told it to your child.
Neverland starts out with a major event which sets into motion everything we are about to see in the series. I was confused at first with the scene but it will all make sense later on. We then move to London as we are introduced to what will eventually end up as being the Lost Boys. They are street urchins and pick-pockets under the care of Jimmy Hook (Rhys Ifans). We see Peter (Charlie Rowe) as a kind of favorite of Jimmy’s, and in fact Peter idolizes Jimmy. He has a very strong sense of wanting to prove himself as Jimmy’s partner, so he undertakes a “job” that Jimmy has told him is much too big and dangerous for Peter. The job leads to an artifact which turns out to be a gateway to another world – sort of a wormhole to Neverland.
As the story unfolds, we discover how Neverland was populated by Indians and pirates, and we meet a very nasty pirate, Bonny, played fantastically by Anna Friel. I love that they created this character and made her a female. She’s very strong and devious, and extremely intelligent. She’s also got her feminine side and she has learned to use that to manipulate others. She’s beautiful and deadly.
Do you remember Smee? Well, he’s on board the pirate ship as well, and played by none other than Bob Hoskins, the ‘Smee’ from Steven Spielberg’s “Hook“. Tinkerbell also makes her appearance, voiced by Keira Knightley. She’s got her own history which is told in Neverland. Tiger Lily and her people are all there to help Peter and the boys as they search for a way back home.
Neverland is beautifully shot using a lot of CG but they do shoot some on location scenes as well. For instance the pirate ship is real and was located in Italy. “We started off in Italy, and that was the most exciting part of the shoot for me,” says Anna Friel. “(The boat) still sits there today. We didn’t, obviously, take it out to sea. It was moored, but it was a spectacular thing to look at.”
Rhys Ifans goes on to say, “A lot of the exteriors such as the Indian reservation or the Indian lands were shot in Parkland in Ireland. The London stuff, the exterior stuff, was shot in Dublin, which has a lot of Georgian architecture, which would have suited. And then “Neverland” ironically was filmed in a disused toilet paper warehouse just outside Dublin.”
I was very impressed with Charlie Rowe, a new talent that we’ve not seen much from before. He took on the lead role and made it look as though this was old hat to him. Charlie explains where his inspiration came from during the recent Syfy Digital Media Tour panel for Neverland. “I tried to avoid watching “Hook” and all of that before getting the part. I just tried to talk to Nick (Willing) because I Nick is Peter Pan, really. So I just tried to involve him into my part because I think he’s still a child. If you meet him, he’s a complete child, and it’s his little baby, this film. And so I just tried
to involve him as much as I can into the parts I was doing. And, yes, my part is basically just Nick, very honestly.”
Neverland is a perfect way for Syfy to kick off their countdown to Christmas week. It’s got all the adventure of the Peter Pan story, giant spiders and crocodiles – and of course, pixie dust! Watch the premiere Sunday night, Dec. 4th, at 9/8c, with two encore airings immediately following. Part two airs Dec. 5th.