Friday, November 30, 2007

All TV: 'Tin Man' takes all the fun out of Oz

Today's column previews Sci Fi's underwhelming "Wizard of Oz" updating, "Tin Man":
Imagination is hard. Imagination requires the creation of new ideas. Re-imagination, on the other hand? That just requires taking a pre-existing idea and changing it ever-so-slightly. Since new ideas in Hollywood are hard to come by, we get lots of re-imagining these days, from simple TV-to-movies translation like "Transformers" to more radical changes like the new political allegory incarnation of "Battlestar Galactica."

The problem with re-imagination comes when the material's so popular that any changes - or, for that matter, the reason for telling the story again - have to seem justified.

In the case of "Tin Man," a six-hour miniseries debuting Sunday night at 9 on Sci Fi, the source material is one of the most beloved stories ever: L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz." The press notes insist that "Viewers familiar with Baum's storyline will delight in the dozens of clever ways in which this new interpretation echoes the old," but for the most part, the changes all seem puzzling and arbitrary.
There's also a review of HBO's Don Rickles documentary, "Mr. Warmth," which I liked a lot more. To read the full thing, click here.

12 comments:

OFB said...

By mentioning that Zooey Deschanel eventually sings, you've convinced me to watch something I was going to skip via a negative review. I wonder if that's ever happened before?

Alan Sepinwall said...

It's brief, and in the last 10 or 15 minutes of the entire story. So tune in just then.

But wow, do I love her singing voice. A classic example of how range often matters much less than tone and phrasing.

Taleena said...

They canceled "Dresden Files" for dreck like this. I'm bitter.

Bobman said...

Wow, I had no idea this even existed, and after reading this summary / review... I was better off not knowing. Because now I have a morbid curiosity that may force me to watch...

dez said...

Wow, that sounds pretty dreadful. If they really want to re-imagine "Oz," they could go back to the source material and apply its political allegory (about Kansas politics at the time) to a current situation--and no, it wouldn't have to be a retread of the updated "Battlestar Galactica." The china people would definitely be nice to see for a change, too.

Devin McCullen said...

This is a good excuse for one of my "If I ran Hollywood" ideas. I'd have Bryan Fuller do an Oz series, theoretically for kids, but not dumbed down. There's a ton of stuff not only from the Wizard of Oz but the later books as well that he could have fun with. H.M. Wogglebug, Tik-Tok, the Patchwork Girl, etc, and it's in the public domain. (Actually, that's probably the reason they don't do it - it would cut into the toy profits.)

BigTed said...

Of course, there's already a reimagining of "Oz" doing boffo business all over the country -- the musical "Wicked."

I saw it recently, and it was pretty entertaining (though a little too heavy on the girl-power business for my taste). Anyone who likes Kristen Chenoweth in "Pushing Daisies" will enjoy it, since she originated the lead role and the part seems to have been designed for her voice and mannerisms.

It's certainly more fun than it sounds like "Tin Man" is. I guess when people start messing around with works that have fallen into the public domain, you're bound to get differing results.

Todd said...

I much prefer the book of Wicked to the musical, and then you don't have to spend hundreds of dollars! The book's sequel, though, is pretty drab.

I had high hopes for this, as I love anything having to do with Oz, generally (though not literally) and even think the movie Return to Oz is pretty underrated. But this is just bad, and not even in the way that's fun to watch.

Karen said...

Right now, I'm picturing Mischa Barton getting eaten by a tree.

Oh, man, I am STILL laughing over this.

cgeye said...

How in heaven's name did any transnational media corporation allow the OZ books get into the public domain? This is crazee!

Anonymous said...

Alan, I love Zooey's voice too and in fact just purchased the Elf soundtrack mostly because of her fantastic duet on it. She has an album coming out soon! Work has been completed on it according to Wikipedia... I can't wait.

Jaynee said...

I'm coming to this post REALLY late because I only just now finished watching "Tin Man".

1. I, too, am a bigger fan of the novel "Wicked" by Gregory Macguire, but enjoy the play tremendously.

2. I didn't think Tin Man was that bad. My husband, a diehard fan of the original WoO (and getting our daughter into it as well), watched the first two hours and promptly checked out. However, I stuck with it and while there some some things I didn't care for, for the most part as long as I didn't make comparisons to the book OR the first movie, I was okay with it.

LOVE Deschanel, LOVE McDonough and LOVE Cumming. Those three alone make this miniseries worth watching.