Published Jan 20, 2020Wall Street Journal critic Joe Morgenstern described Paddington 2 as, "The Godfather Part II of Peruvian bear movies, a sequel that surpasses the superb original." It wouldn't be bold to say that Paddington is one of the best film series' of all time. Based on the novels by Michael Bond, the films, and especially their adorable protagonist, have charmed audiences of all ages.
The next chapter of the bear's story comes in the form of a Nick Jr. animated series entitled, The Adventures of Paddington. I vowed to support my son in anything and everything he's in. So, of course, while kids' TV isn't normally on my radar, I had to check this out. And it proves to be the kind of light and wholesome content we need right now.
The series shows much promise in its premiere episode. Ben Whishaw continues to lend his voice to the titular bear, as we follow Paddington on new and exciting adventures, which he documents in his letters to Aunt Lucy. Along with Whishaw, there is a new cast of actors lending their voices to Paddington's friends and family: Morwenna Banks (Mrs. Brown), Darren Boyd (Mr. Brown), Bobby Beynon (Jonathan), Sabrina Newton-Fisher (Judy), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Bird), and David Schofield (Mr. Gruber). The beloved people in Paddington's life don't resemble their film likeness, exactly, and while they're voiced by different actors, there's a similarity to the films' actors in their voice work that makes the cast feel as familiar as Whishaw.
The first episode is split into two stories. Still dawning his blue duffle coat, red explorer's hat, and love of marmalade sandwiches, Paddington attempts to find a hobby by discovering what he's good at. In the process, he tries every hobby favoured by his adopted London family: Mr. Brown sings (we get to hear Paddington try to sing), Judy does gymnastics, Jonathan builds rockets and Mrs. Bird drives a motorcycle. We already know that Mrs. Brown's hobby is illustration, so she's primarily the one who aids Paddington in discovering this new side of himself. It's also nice to see a new side to the other members of the Brown family unit. (Paddington also asks if he gets a gold medal for doing the bare minimum, and honestly? Mood!) The second adventure of the episode involves Paddington trying to find a stamp so he can send his Aunt Lucy a letter. Sounds simple, but of course, with his innocently mischievous nature and mindfulness to help others, he gets into some trouble.
Not only is The Adventures of Paddington enjoyable, but it also produces some beautiful and crisp animation. The texture is exceptional and Claymation-like. The Brown home looks quite different in comparison to its film counterpart, but it still feels like home. The series makes me wish we awarded animated production design because the detail that went into the Brown home, Mr. Gruber's antique shop and London streets is worthy of accolades.
While there are many differences between the series and the films that are evident in even its first episode, there's an indication that it will continue to provide the audience with some subtle lessons, as Paddington reminds you that interrupting people while they're talking is rude as hell, everyone's hobbies are valid, and if you don't mind your manners, a hard stare is in the cards.
As the series' fitting theme song says, "He came from Peru to be with me and you," and how lucky are we?