Since 1958 the friendly, polite bear from deepest darkest Peru, named ‘Paddington’ by the Brown family who find him at the eponymous London train station, has been delighting children and adults alike.
Thanks to two truly outstanding movies in 2014 and 2017 with Ben Wishaw voicing the titular bear, a fresh animated series entitled The Adventures of Paddington was released in 2019, now available on Netflix.
Whishaw’s reprisal of the role was a wise choice by all concerned. In the 2014 live-action movie, the CGI character was originally to be voiced by Colin Firth (The Railway Man) who later stood down stating that it had been “…bittersweet to see this delightful creature take shape and come to the sad realization that he simply doesn’t have my voice.”
Whishaw’s gentle lilt was a huge success in the movies, and he shoulders that momentum in The Adventures of Paddington.
Over the course of two seasons consisting of 26 episodes at 20 minutes a piece, The Adventures of Paddington continues in a similar vein to the original books by Michael Bond insofar as the plots are low key stakes typically managed by kindness, clumsiness, and a wide eyed naivety from Paddington whose manners remain impeccable even in the face of increasingly awry circumstances.
The simpler joys from the recent movies consisted of gentle farce and slapstick as Paddington tried to navigate things such as operating the bathroom, or causing calamity at a local barbershop.
The animated series leans into such moments for the full episodes, and you may find our marmalade sandwich-loving bear searching for lost items with a metal detector, hunting for a lost game piece, or trying to retrieve his hat in the midst of a snowstorm.
The Adventures Of Paddington Official Trailer
To again reference the movies (sorry, they were so good!) one of the reasons that Paddington 2 was hugely successful in particular was that each member of the Brown family had a clear skill or quirk that was paid off and plot-important later, wrapped up in a neat little duffle coat.
Given the larger space of this series, such tight writing isn’t attempted, which somewhat devolves the Browns back to stereotypes. The children, Judy and Jonathan, for example, are mostly indistinguishable from each other.
They act as a Paddington level instigator of action so that he can operate with company outside of the adults. Mrs Brown’s role (Morwenna Banks) is typically ‘mother’ with some mild husband chiding which is par for the coarse in any bog standard family set up.
Mr Brown (Darren Boyd) gets the most personality which is constructed from a predictable rummage around the ‘daft, frequently useless, but loving’ ‘Dad’ bag of bits.
Is The Adventures of Paddington Worth Watching?
It is perhaps unfair to hold The Adventures of Paddington up to Paddington 2 considering the latter sat proud at the top of the IMDB highest reviewed movies of all time list for ages.
The Brown family dynamic is standard and warm, and gives Paddington perfect licence to have a series of ‘little adventures’, the likes of which are imprinted into all manner of children’s entertainment since the books (Sarah & Duck, for example, is a wonderful show that owes a spiritual debt to Paddington).
What Adventures does hold over the movies is more individualistic time to the support cast. Antagonist slash serial moaner Mr Curry (voiced gleefully by Reece Shearsmith) gets plenty of screen time with fun character beats, such as stomping up to Sofia’s café and haughtily ordering ‘tap water and free samples’.
Mr Gruber the shopkeeper (who is pains to mention his Hungarian heritage at any given opportunity) fills out comedy beats such as a sly Bela Lugosi reference as the Browns attempt to make a home video.
And the aforementioned café owner Sofia and Scottish relation Mrs. Bird weave in and out of episodes with a chorus of effervescent moments.
Whilst The Adventures of Paddington skews for a younger audience rather than the whole family affair of the movies, it remains an utterly charming warm embrace of a show that is like a balm to the soul.
Sometimes you want gritty dramas, and sometimes you want to watch a softly spoken bear try and run a café for 10 minutes. For such moments, keep The Adventures of Paddington inside your hat to chomp on when required.
Words by Mike Record