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Did 'Peter Pan Live!' crash or fly?

By Lisa Respers France, CNN
updated 10:46 AM EST, Fri December 5, 2014
Jake Lucas, John Allyn, Allison Williams and Taylor Louderman go flying in
Jake Lucas, John Allyn, Allison Williams and Taylor Louderman go flying in "Peter Pan Live!"
  • "Peter Pan Live!" starred Allison Williams, who asked viewers not to hate-watch
  • But viewers amused themselves on social media
  • The show earned some praise, though one critic called screenplay wooden

(CNN) -- Before NBC even aired "Peter Pan Live!" on Thursday night, its star, Allison Williams, asked viewers not to hate-watch it.

Unfortunately, Tinkerbell didn't totally grant that wish.

Although the live musical production garnered some celeb praise and a few pats on the back for its star, some critics and viewers concluded they were right to worry that it wouldn't fly.

"Peter Pan may have overcome the tyranny of time, but he couldn't surmount the constrictions of a television screen," wrote New York Daily News writer Don Kaplan. "Or a wooden screenplay."

The special, which featured "Girls" star Williams as the eternally young Pan and Christopher Walken as Captain Hook, had been highly anticipated after NBC's ratings success with "Sound of Music Live!" starring Carrie Underwood. Deadline reported that the latest production tumbled in early ratings, down 46% from last year's live show.

Though "Sound of Music Live!" did well with the numbers, it was ripped to shreds by some viewers, and the expectation was that the new show wouldn't be much better.

But according to The Daily Beast's Kevin Fallon, "Peter Pan" proved to be just underwhelming.

"No, it's not that Peter Pan Live! was the 'Sound of Music Live!' train wreck our heads are still spinning over, like Carrie Underwood twirling maniacally on a soundstage hilltop," Fallon wrote. "It's that 'Peter Pan Live!' was boring."

Perhaps trying to liven things up, viewers amused themselves on social media. One tweeted, "Apparently Never Never Land is just a backdrop at Sears. #PeterPanLive."

Even "Scrubs" star Zach Braff got in on the fun, tweeting, "All of this needs more cowbell #PeterPanLive," a nod to Walken's now-classic "SNL" skit. Actress Anna Kendrick tweeted, "Increasingly worried this is going to turn into a "Boys Don't Cry" situation for Peter #PeterPanLive."

Walken didn't win any raves for his singing, but Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter found the actor to be "simultaneously playing himself and playing Captain Hook, though for some long stretches one couldn't be sure if he was forgetting lines left and right or just letting the play breathe."

"Seriously, you can't underestimate the Walken Effect," Goodman wrote. "If you don't like him, well, this was not a three-hour musical for you, because during vast stretches of it Walken seemed to be doing something else entirely than his fellow singers and actors. But for those who love the Cult of Christopher, that level of odd behavior, moments of outright weirdness and his own brand of playing cool in chaos was precisely what made NBC's gambit work."

One person who knew all too well the experience of presenting a musical live on national TV gave it a thumbs up.

"I hope the cast & crew of #PeterPanLive feel so happy & proud right now," Underwood tweeted. "What an incredible thing you all were a part of tonight! Amazing!!!"