Sunday, March 03, 2013

Honourable Mention: Tin Man

It may come as a surprise to some but I really enjoy the Wizard of Oz – be it the classic 1939 movie or the book by L. Frank Baum. I saw a trailer for this Nick Willing directed Tin Man (something I had missed when it aired in 2007) and decided it looked interesting enough to give it a go.

My aim was to perhaps do an article about it for The Uranium Café Cult Cinema Club but as I watched it I realised that there was, at the very least, an honourable mention within it. We will get to why later.

DG with Dorothy
The mini-series itself has a homage within it to the 1939 film (and the book for that matter) but it is a complete reimagining. Sometimes this works, occasionally it feels crowbarred into place. Take our lead character DG (Zooey Deschanel), everyone calls her DG but it is no nickname, apparently it is her name. Later we are told that she is named after Dorothy Gale (Grace Wheeler), the heroine of the 1939 film and the fountainhead of DGs royal line.

Zero - head of the longcoats
Perhaps there I have got ahead of myself for when the series starts DG is a young woman living with her (surrogate) parents and has no memories of home. She lives on “the other side” – our world – but comes from the Outer Zone (or the O.Z. or Oz). Her adventures begin when Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson), sorceress and dictator of the O.Z. discovers that there is a source of light in “the other side” that could thwart her plans to plunge the O.Z. into eternal darkness. She sends a squad of longcoats (fascistic soldiers) to get this source (DG of course). Passage between the worlds is via a twister, which acts like a portal, and DGs parents throw her through the portal to her real home.

Alan Cumming as Glitch
Early on she meets several companions. When held prisoner by native folk (munchkins) she meets Glitch (Alan Cumming) a man with a zipper across his head, a souvenir of the removal of half his brain. The name Glitch comes from the glitching synapses, a result of the operation, but he is of course the scarecrow equivalent. The Tin Man, Wyatt Cain (Neal McDonough), was a cop turned resistance fighter who was imprisoned in an iron lung type contraption and forced to watch the torture of his family on repeat. The name tin man came from the nickname for cops, rather than the device. Finally the lion is Raw (Raoul Trujillo, True Blood, House of Frankenstein & Lost Girl), a manimal like psychic. His people are used by the sorceress to scry the future and people’s memories.

Blu Mankuma as Toto
Other major characters also appeal. The Wizard is now The Mystic Man (Richard Dreyfuss), the once great and powerful wizard reduced to a giggling showman through an addictive drug that that the sorceress has got him hooked to. We also get Toto (Blu Mankuma, Forever Knight & Blood Ties) though in this he is the old tutor of DG and Azkadellia, as well as a shapeshifter (yes he becomes a dog). It should be mentioned that Azkadellia is DGs sister and it is here we get our honourable mention.

sucking life force
On two occasions we see Azkadellia suck the life out of men. This energy vampire activity is not commented on so we don’t know if it is necessary or simply for pleasure. We know it is lifeforce because in the past Azkadellia killed DG and their mother (Anna Galvin, The Boy Who Cried Werewolf and also Blood Ties) sacrificed much of her life energy and power to resurrect her youngest daughter – this was accomplished by blowing the energy out, mouth to mouth.

revealing the witch inside
Now the reason Azkadellia is evil is because she has been possessed by the wicked witch (Karin Konoval). Whether this energy sucking is necessary for the witch aspect is not answered. The witch craves darkness (though there is no indication that light kills her, but she is hidden in Azkadellia’s body). She also has access to flying monkeys – which seem to be bat/monkey hybrids and when inactive exist as tattoos on Azkadellia’s chest. The witch and Azkadellia speak to each other, so they would seem to be in symbiosis as much as it is possession.

a flying monkey
So that is why the honourable mention. There is a form of energy vampirism shown. It only happens twice (as a negative act) and is not commented on and so I kept this at honourable mention. I did like the show though, it went its own way with fascist troops, tanks and machine guns, a mix of magic and technology that was a shave away from being steampunk. As I say, some references to previous incarnations of Oz were crowbarred in but all were welcome anyway. I think it is worth checking out.

The imdb page is here.

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