Back when The Sci-fi Channel was still showing the mainstays of its content of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, before the ECW and reality shows kicked in, we were treated to all kinds of great mini-series, and if you missed this one in 2007, go pick it up now! This is a twist on a classic, but also a kind of sequel to Frank L. Baum tales of Oz. To all those kids growing up during the 60s and 70s, you most likely felt pretty special when you got to see the annual viewing of the 1937 classic, The Wizard of Oz, when it aired on CBS. There was even an alternate version featuring an all-African-American cast, including a teen Micheal Jackson, The Wiz. These might have prepared you for the new sexy musical about the witches of Oz, Wicked, if you have been lucky enough to see this stage production, but Tin Man just about blows these away.
There is a college student, D.G. (Zooey Deschanel), living with her parents in Kansas, age 20-something. She works part time at a diner, where the uniform for the waitresses happen to be blue gingham dresses, but she is a phenomenal artist, and lately she’s been having dreams and visions far beyond the scope of her little part of the world which consists of school, work, and her parents’ farm. The visions are coming from a place called the Outer Zone, or the O.Z. A lovely, but evil sorceress has made this world her domain, and when D.G.’s visions become a little too clear, the sorceress, Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson) sends her Longcoat scouts, lead by Zero (Callum Keith Rennie) to find D.G. and deal with her. They come via travel storm, or tornado.
D.G.’s parents knew this day would come, and they are not as they seem. Her parents, Hank (Kevin McNulty) and Emily (Gwynyth Walsh) are androids sent to this world to keep D.G. safe while her real mother, simply known as Lavender Eyes (Anna Galvin), is imprisoned by her daughter, the sorceress Azkadellia. As with most things Oz, nothing is ever as it seems in this place. D.G. is sent by tornado to the O.Z., only to become a prisoner to savage munchkins that think she is a spy. Here she meets with another prisoner, Glitch (Alan Cummings), a man whom is working with half a brain, literally. There is a huge zipper that runs down the part of his short dreadlocks. This unusual person has a past of his own, but is a threat to Azkadellia’s power addiction.
Meanwhile, in Azkadellia’s steampunk palace, she uses the visions of several leonine people with very powerful psychic visions to spy on the world around her, its past, present, and future. One of these creatures, Raw (Raoul Trujillo) escapes the tower, but has become fearful of just about everything and everyone due to his many days of torture under the Longcoats and their lead inquisitor, Raynz (Ian A. Wallace). As D.G. and Glitch escape from the munchkins, he runs into them, and joins with them as he finds a connexion with them. Further down the road, they find a small homestead, where Longcoats are beating up a man of 30-something, and are threatening his wife and son. The three of them try to intervene, then the find out that what the have seen was only a recording of some kind of tragic event that occurred at this house. Wondering why a recording would keep playing with no one to see they, they look around, and find what looks to be an early 20th century design of scuba gear, with various coils and tubes in it. Upon a closer look, they find someone inside, and open it up. What they find is a disheveled, tormented ex-lawman, Wyatt Cain (Neal McDonough) forced to watch this recording as a punishment for his dissent against the Longcoats.
So, now we do have an analogous group that kind of matches up with the famed quartet, but there is so much more depth with these characters, and so much more story to tell. You see, D.G. and Azkadellia are sisters, and even though we thought the Wicked Witch was gone, she wasn’t, and if D.G. can find a powerful emerald before a double eclipse takes place, she can prevent darkness from taking over the O.Z.
There are so many places that need to be explored, and many variations on a vast theme that can be as big as Tolkien’s Middle Earth, yet still has enough mystery to keep scriptwriters and playwrights busy forever, if they keep wishing to expand on it. I hope they continue to do so.
I give this film a Musing review of