The Adventures of Paddington, Season 1
The Adventures of Paddington is a new version of a familiar bear. It’s a heartwarming show about being curious, being good to others, and being part of a loving family.
Editor’s Note: This review is based on this series’ first two episodes.
Paddington, the unfailingly polite little bear who means well but can’t seem to get anything right, is at it again. He’s got another set of adventures playing on Amazon Prime, and in between his penchant for marmalade sandwiches and the occasional hard stare for those who seem to have forgotten their manners, he lives up to expectations.
He’s remarkably well preserved for a bear of 62 years (the character debuted in 1958), relatively unwrinkled but unquenchably curious. Even though the Brown family, which took him in several decades ago, tries to impress on him how much a part of them he is, Paddington still hasn’t gotten the feeling of being fully accepted as a furry creature among humans, which will instantly make him relatable to kids who feel like outsiders.
That’s one of the themes explored in “Paddington and the Chores List”. That’s the second half of Episode 1 — each 22-minute show is divided into two parts. In this half of the episode, Paddington learns what chores are. When he finds out what they are, and hears that everybody in the family has a list of them except him, you can immediately read the disappointment in his expressions. So the family tries to come up with a list for Paddington — things he can’t get wrong, they say — but with an intro like that, you don’t have to be a foreshadowing genius to know the little bear is going to turn things upside down. Once the family tells Paddington that he now is part of the list, he attacks it with a glee that parents probably will seldom see in their own kids. And when he mistakenly does everybody else’s chores but his own, what could possibly go wrong?
Amid his adventures, Paddington is always learning — and therefore teaching the kids watching him — fully worthwhile lessons. In this one, the little bear learns it isn’t chores that earn him a place in the family. Though the series doesn’t have any overt faith teachings, you have to be spiritually tone-deaf to miss the Christian undertone that works don’t earn you a place in the family of God. “Otherwise,” as housekeeper Mrs. Bird chirps in, “Mr. Brown would’ve been kicked out six months ago!”
The first part of the episode — “Paddington Finds a Pigeon” — teaches Paddington what true love means. He comes across a bird with an injured wing and nurses him back to health. In the process, he grows attached to the pigeon, which he names Pigeonton. But as Pigeonton recovers and sees other birds flying free, he yearns to join them. Paddington doesn’t want to set Pigeonton free, but Mrs. Bird (who we should note is coincidentally named, but human) teaches him differently. “If you love him, you have to do what’s best for him, not what’s best for you.”
With messages like that, and more, sprinkled throughout the series, it’s easy to pronounce The Adventures of Paddington Dove-approved for All Ages.
The Dove Take:
Paddington can’t get anything right, but the lessons that emerge seem always to be on point.