SyFy has been reinventing things with mixed success. They have 'Battlestar Galactica', their gold standard, but they also have 'Flash Gordon' and numerous other bombs. They've also had mini-series based on classic tales like 'The Wizard of Oz' and 'Alice in Wonderland'. Now, they're going to even older stories by creating a television movie franchise based on classic fairy tales. One benefit of this idea is that nobody is owed any creator fees as most fairy tales are in the public domain.
Of course, much like their previous mini-series such as 'Tin Man' and 'Alice', these stories will have a modern, adult spin. For example, 'Hansel and Gretel' will now become a revenge flick. 'Little Red Riding Hood' could very well turn into a copy of 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' where Red hunts down werewolves.
This idea might work, and some of the movies might even become backdoor pilots if done well enough (despite the limited budget of each). Of course, this concept has already sort of been done with DC Comics' 'Fables' series, but using that directly would involve paying for rights.
It's hard for me to get excited about something like Alice, Syfy's twisted new take on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. NBC and Syfy seemingly produce these modern versions of classic tales for the same reason Hollywood studios push out stale remakes and sequels – because they already have a built in audience. And the producers don't have to worry about coming up with an original story. All they have to do is force some contempo quirkiness into the age-old text and be done with it. (Make the flamingos flying machines! Turn the caterpillar into a hookah-smoking Harry Dean Stanton!)
Similar to Syfy's Tin Man, its dark and tedious Wizard of Oz redo, Alice offers a bizarre retread of its classic source material. But writer-director Nick Willing (the brains behind Tin Man) smartly sets his tale in a futuristic version of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. And he's created a brand new Alice too. She's a tough twentysomething brunette who teaches martial arts and high-kicks bad guys in the face.
Ever wonder what famous literary character Alice would be like if she were alive today? Well, ponder no more! Nick Willing, director of 2007's record-breaking, Emmy-winning miniseries 'Tin Man' is taking the classic Lewis Carroll story and putting a modern spin on it. Just as Willing took 'The Wizard of Oz' and twisted it into 'Tin Man', he's taken 'Alice in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking Glass' and adapted them to the contemporary world in a 4-hour, 2-night miniseries 'Alice'.
Alice is now Alice Hamilton, a fiercely-independent twenty-something who witnesses her lover Jack Chase get kidnapped by two thugs and driven into darkness. Desperate to find Jack, Alice puts her trust in a stranger who calls himself White Rabbit, and suddenly finds herself on the other side of the looking glass.
She's a stranger in an outlandish city of twisted towers and casinos built out of playing cards, all under the rule of a devilish Queen who isn't happy about Alice's arrival. In her quest to get answers and find Jack, Alice must deal with a host of outrageous characters including the flying scarabs, the thundering Jabberwock, the Pool of Tears and the clinically insane Doctors Dee and Dum.
The 'Alice' cast is star-studded, including Canadian Caterina Scorsone as Alice, Kathy Bates as the Queen of Hearts, Tim Curry as Dodo, and Colm Meaney as the King of Hearts, among many others. AOL TV Canada sat down to talk to the director and Scorsone about the upcoming miniseries, and how the 150-year-old story is relevant to today's world.
Read Q&A After the Fold!
Another project mentioned which surprised me was Alice, described as a "modern day telling of Alice in Wonderland," much like Tin Man was for The Wizard of Oz. What surprised me about this is how Mark Stern, executive vice president of original programming for Sci Fi, reacted when I actually asked him about this idea last year during my visit to the sets in Vancouver.
By contrast, Monday night proved that Tin Man had its own story to tell. This was a story that would use the Wizard of Oz as a jumping off point and rethink the classic.
According to preliminary data, and as reported by Variety, Tin Man appears to have beaten virtually every record the Sci Fi channel has ever seen. It's 6.4 million viewers surpassed the 6.1 million who saw Steven Spielberg's Taken, back in 2002. Demo ratings were equally as strong, where Tin Man unseated 2000's Dune in adults 18-49, and Taken again in adults 25-54.
With reviews coming in either mid-range to downright negative, it'll be interesting to see how these numbers continue through the mini-series' three-night run.
For myself, I thought it was pretty good but I like the original story enough to find almost any variation of it amusing. I also know not to expect much from a Sci-Fi channel miniseries. So, I fully anticipated that the special effects would be inconsistent and the dialogue would be insipid.
Nevertheless, the actors were good, great even. Alan Cumming is a genius and Neal McDonough is good enough as the embittered ex-Tin Man. I didn't think that Zooey Deschanel was that bad either--so many people complained about her. She does have an abrupt delivery though (which doesn't work well with some of her mediocre lines).
From 1996-2000, NBC had a modest hit on their hand with The Pretender, a show in which main character Jarod used his abilities to assume other people's identities to help those in need. Kind of a Quantum Leap with identity theft instead of bodysnatching. Creators Steven Long Mitchell and Craig Van Sickle, also of Tin Man, reportedly told SCI FI Wire they'd like to bring back the show in the digital medium. The relaunch, or continuation, could even feature original star Michael T. Weiss in the title role again.
They've reportedly brunched Weiss and begun laying the groundwork for the project, so it seems it's a done deal, just what exactly it means and when and where we'll be able to see it remains unclear.
I guess it was only a matter of time until the Sci-Fi channel added their version to the ever-evolving list of stories about Dorothy and her journey through Oz. Tin Man aired last night on the Sci-Fi channel from 9-11 p.m. ET/PT and will continue tonight and tomorrow night (same channel, same time).
We began last night with D.G., the Midwestern waitress who speeds to work on her motorcycle, has weird dreams, and believes there's something more to life than waiting tables and windy prairies. D.G., unlike the gentler Dorothy, is a little too tough at times. I don't mind her talking back to everyone but I do mind her going after longcoats with a stick when she sees the men beating up Tin Man's family.
Just head on over to the post linked above, read through the rules and make the applicable comment there (not here!) We'll notify the winners next week.
As you can see, we're doing something different this week with giveaways. We have a bunch from Monday, two from earlier today, and now this. So, what the heck -- time to give away more stuff!
This time we've got something a bit different. Sci Fi's pulling all the stops on promoting their upcoming TV movie, Tin Man (airing December 2), and I'm pretty jealous of the winners of this one. Two winners will receive a blue 8GB Apple iPod Nano (one of the new, fat ones), a very cool Tin Man board game (pictured above, with metal game pieces) and a Tin Man comic book. Read on for details!
There's a preview for the upcoming SciFi Channel miniseries Tin Man up on YouTube. It's a more modern and sinister take on The Wizard of Oz. The video is also embedded after the jump.
Apparently, the Outer Zone (Oz. Outer Zone. Get it?) is ruled by an evil sorceress named Azkadellia (what? Not Elphaba? I guess you'll have to stick to the musical for that). Following in the tradition of the strong female protagonist, Dorothy "DG" Gale is now a midwestern waitress caught in a freak storm that transports her to the Outer Zone where she has to kick butt and take names.
Sick of me yet? Well don't worry, this the last post I've got for you about my trip ... probably. I felt it was right of me to conclude everything with some overall thoughts on the experience of visiting these sets, a quick rundown on what I've already posted (don't worry, it's just the links) and a consolidation of the images, including some new ones.
So, to start of, here's a quick rundown of what was already posted ...
It's hard to believe that the previous three set visits happened in one day, not to mention the three panels. The next day we were up at the crack of dawn and ready to embark on the last stop of our tour, the set of the new Flash Gordon series. We'd also be seeing some footage and artwork from the new Sci Fi miniseries and "re-imagining" of The Wizard of Oz, Tin Man.
Stay tuned here at TV Squad for more updates as soon as I'm able to get online and throw something at you. I start out bright and early tomorrow morning, so if you've got any questions you'd like to ask folks involved with any of the above mentioned shows, fire away in the comments below. I'm hoping I'll be able to shoot some updates via our Twitter account, too, so be sure to check that out to see what I'm up to for the next few days, or you can follow the tiny widget after the jump in this post. Needless to say, I'm pretty frack'n pumped!
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