Tin Man

Tin Man
a Sci-fi Channel Mini Series
a kate west review

The Sci-fi Channel "Tin Man" six hour mini series is an odd and very loose adaptation of L. Frank Baum's "Wizard of Oz" stories. An unfortunate cross between "Mad Max" and "Battlestar Galactica", it fails as both a uniquely interesting adaptation and as an original piece.

The movie concerns a girl named D.G. (named after ancestor Dorothy Gale) who accidentally discovers she is heir to a throne in the alternate dimension, the Outer Zone, or the O.Z. (yes, like the trendy O.C.). Zooey Deschanel plays the waitress-turned-princess alternating between stoicism and wide-eyed surprise, her two main looks apparently. Her childhood dreams of magic turn out to be real memories and her parents turn out to be robots placed by her real mother in order to take care of her and to shield her from her evil older sister, Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson), whose body is taken over by a witch (Karin Konoval). She's got to get to Central City to find the Mystic Man (Richard Dreyfus). Along the way she meets up with Glitch (Alan Cumming), a former royal aide whose brain has been viciously removed. They in turn rescue a man in an iron prison suit named Cain (Neal McDonough) or the Tin Man, since he used to be an officer of the law. Last but not least, is the fluffy and timid creature named Raw (Raoul Trujillo).

Many adventures ensue, while Azkadellia's Gestapo-like Longcoats pursue the gang relentlessly, especially Zero (Callum Keith Rennie), the main person responsible for torturing the Tin Man's family and forcing him to watch from behind his metal hell. They even run into a shape shifter from DG's past who turns into a dog. She used to call him Toto, when she couldn't say Tutor (Blu Mankuma). The filmmakers make some bizarre choices, including having Azkadelia's flying monkeys literally spring from her tattooed chest. The Mystic Man proves to be a disappointment, as he is addicted to the vapors and a help to no one. The gang ultimately save their universe from destruction and the original royal family is restored. But it simply isn't an engaging enough interpretation and the look itself is drab and apocalyptic depressing.

The problem with the movie is not that it detracts from the Judy Garland film, as that in itself was an adaptation, but that it adds nothing to the original Oz books. There is no real new dimension or illumination and while there is nothing inherently wrong with making alternate endings or variations of beloved characters (Shakespeare did it, after all), this doesn't quite cut it. And it can be done quite well, as demonstrated in both the hit novel and musical "Wicked". But in this case, "Tin Man" makes little impression on the Oz universe. So you can save the room on your TIVO.

Created by
Craig Van Sickle
Steven Long Mitchell
Directed by
Nick Willing

Zooey Deschanel
Neal McDonough
Alan Cumming
Raoul Trujillo
Kathleen Robertson
Richard Dreyfuss
Blu Mankuma
Callum Keith Rennie

Simon Boswell

The Annotated Wizard of Oz (Centennial Edition)

The Wizard of Oz (Three-Disc Collector's Edition)

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