Picks and Pans Review: Peter Pan

updated 03/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 03/27/1989 AT 01:00 AM EST

NBC (Fri., March 24, 8 P.M. ET)

Here's the proof that I'm just a sour old beast: I took the tape of Mary Martin's classic 1960 Peter Pan—the same TV show I had watched when I was but a nipper—stuck it in the VCR. turned it on...and groaned. It looked so old, so strange, so terribly twinkie. So I turned off my machines and procrastinated until a few nights later when my favorite 4-year-old relative, a young lady named Lauren, came for a visit. I decided to share the pain and make her watch the show; that's how we critics treat all children and small animals. But to my amazement, Lauren did not roll her eyes; she glued them to the show. She was instantly enthralled and utterly enchanted (and so was I, watching her). Lauren wasn't bothered that Tinker Bell came not from some computerized laser light but from some flashlight. She was, however, quite bothered that the mother had dared to take Peter Pan's shadow. She was frightened watching the pirates—"They're bad!"—and told the cat snoozing on our floor not to worry. Best of all, Lauren clapped her heart out to bring poor Tinker Bell back to life. And I just about melted. At the end, Lauren looked up at me with big eyes and demanded: "Did you record this? Can you rewind it?" She is a modern child, a vidkid. I tried to get critical judgments out of her—on the acting, the direction, anything. But Lauren ignored me and hit the "play" button. Next day she watched it three more times. That is a rave review. You see, critical judgment is not something you're born with; it's something that grows and festers with age. Pure enjoyment is something only Peter Pan and children can share. Lauren's grade: A

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