Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Tin Man

Last night saw the conclusion of the SciFi Channel’s most recent Miniseries, Tin Man, a reimagining of sorts of the classic Wizard of Oz story. The story opens with DG (a not-so-hidden play on Dorothy Gale), a girl growing up in a small rural town, working a dead end job, knowing she is destined for something more than this small-town existence. It probably doesn’t help that her father goes on an on about his childhood in Milltown, a small town where he felt everything was perfect. All in all, DG’s life was boring, except for the nightmares she’d have nightly about a strange world far removed from her own.

That strange world exists of course, as the Outer Zone (the OZ, get it?), and DG’s really from the OZ, but has been living on the “other side” to protect her as she grew up. When the Dark Sorceress, Askadelia, sends troops after DG, her parents throw her into the tornado the shock troops created for their own travel, and DG ends up in the OZ, alone.

The rest of the story has many parallels with the original Wonderful Wizard of Oz, first DG meets the Munchkins (who are tiny savages), then her first companion is a man who’s lost his marbles, then the Tin Man, then the Cowardly Lion. The Scarecrow, or Glitch, as he’s known, had his brain removed because of what he knew, though it’s a punishment often reserved from criminals. The Tin Man was a sheriff working for the resistance, who get locked in a tin suit and forced to watch his family get taken from him over and over again for ten years. The Cowardly Lion is from a race of savages who are psychic, and can read minds. All small twists on the original theme. Catherine described it as the difference between what really happened, and how it got written down. The changes are different and subtle, but do add a level of ‘realism’ to the world.

Overall, the miniseries was entertaining, though the writing was subpar, and the actress playing DG was terrible. The final act felt rushed, as if they either needed to do a 4-part miniseries, or simply structure the show differently, and the ending was predictable. What I did really, really like about the miniseries, is that it did a great job of focusing on the heroes finding that which they’d lost as they travel. The Tin Man eventually finds his heart, allowing him to show pity on a man he’d dreamed of killing for years, even if he still seeks justice. The cowardly lion finds the strength to be brave. DG learns how to make right a grave mistake from her childhood which caused all the problems the OZ was facing, and Glitch learns how to function without his marbles (they do find his brain, and presumably put it back after the movie ends).

In all, it was entertaining, but I was disappointed at how much more it could have been. It was a great mix of science fiction, old west, mythological and fairy tale elements, but the subpar writing, poor casting in key roles, and awkward pacing makes it far from a classic.

3 out of 5