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July 23, 2014

Syfy's 'Alice' Adaptation: Was It Too Weird?

by Jason Hughes, posted Dec 7th 2009 1:46PM
Caterina Scorsone, Alice
A lot may have changed in the 143 years since the events of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.' One thing, though, has remained wonderfully consistent: Wonderland is one weird place, as evidenced by Syfy's modern foray into that world with 'Alice.' The two-part miniseries premiered last night and concludes with its second two-hour installment tonight at 8 p.m.

While the original book, and subsequent film, television and stage adaptations, showcased a seeming idyllic pre-industrial world of beauty and color, that world appears mostly gone by the time this generation's Alice tripped through the Looking Glass.Caterina Scorsone, Alice
A lot may have changed in the 143 years since the events of 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.' One thing, though, has remained wonderfully consistent: Wonderland is one weird place, as evidenced by Syfy's modern foray into that world with 'Alice.' The two-part miniseries premiered last night and concludes with its second two-hour installment tonight at 8 p.m.

Matt Frewer, AliceWhile the original book, and subsequent film, television and stage adaptations, showcased a seeming idyllic pre-industrial world of beauty and color, that world appears mostly gone by the time this generation's Alice tripped through the Looking Glass.

As with other adaptations, there is some blending between both of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice' books. This allows for the inclusion of the Looking Glass, White Knight and Tweedles Dee and Dum, among other things and characters.

Kathy Bates, AliceWhat's interesting is that despite the drastic differences in tone and presentation, this 'Alice' is every bit as loopy and bizarre as its predecessors. Ironically, while the original story may have left you feeling as if you were tripping on a wide variety of illegal narcotics, it is drugs themselves that are at the heart of the new Wonderland. In fact, the Queen of Hearts has developed an entire economic system around drugs harvested from "Oysters," or people from our world.

Humans are placed in casinos where their emotions are harvested into elixirs. It is from these that both liquid and solid drugs are manufactured and used as currency. With her population addicted to these human emotion-drugs, the Queen has transformed much of Wonderland into a towering cityscape of decay and corruption. A world she rules with an iron grip.

Andrew Lee-Potts, AliceNevertheless, beneath her very nose there is a resistance rising, led by The Dodo. On her journeys through Wonderland, Alice finds a couple of surprise allies in the Hatter and the White Knight, who remember a time before the Queen destroyed everything that was dear and great about Wonderland. With the Ring of Wonderland in her possession, and a possible inside ally in the Queen's own son, it remains to be seen if Alice can save Wonderland ... or find her way home.

Tim Curry, AliceFrom the set designs to the costuming and the special effects, every aspect of 'Alice' feeds the weirdness that drives you through the stories. Syfy kept that mood going with some unique promotions to raise awareness of the miniseries. It wasn't enough that they could promote such high profile names as Kathy Bates (Queen of Hearts) and Tim Curry (The Dodo) as part of the cast. The promotion had to fit the tone of the production.



The campaign began last week with the creation of @WhiteRabbitInc, a Twitter account that gave followers clues throughout the week as the White Rabbit's pursuit of Alice and the Hatter intensified. The account has amassed just over 1,750 followers to date and continues offering updates.

Alice Building PromotionIn keeping with the spirit of Wonderland, some of the updates read as just the sort of nonsense Lewis Carroll created. Examples include: "Flamingos are pink from their diet of shrimp," "Bad emotions are bad business, they do not sell," and "Rain, rain go away. We want to play, like yesterday." That account led followers to a website, thewhiterabbitinc.com, set up to aid in the search for Alice

Thursday night saw 'Alice' infiltrating New York with videos of white rabbits cascading the walls of several of the city's landmark buildings.



Alice White Rabbint CampaignBy Friday morning, the streets were literally crawling with them. Syfy sent out 50 "white rabbits" in business attire during the morning rush. They were handing out cards with pictures of the Hatter and Alice on them reading "Have you seen this pair?" This is a reference to Mad March's search for the pair in the miniseries.

At 12:30 p.m. ET, the rabbits converged on Union Square where they performed a choreographed "step" routine.



Syfy certainly spared no expense in making sure that anyone who was paying attention knew that this version of 'Alice' was definitely something different than what's been seen before. Time will tell if all that effort got more people to tune into the miniseries. One thing is certain: Anyone who caught a glimpse, or saw videos, of the white rabbit assault on New York knows that it was one weird event. And that puts them in the right frame of mind to enjoy writer-director Nick Willing's re-interpretation of Lewis Carroll's nonsense tales of 'Alice.'

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