The Sci-Fi Channel’s “re-imagining” of L. Frank Baum’s THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ continues along the Old Road as DG (Zooey Deschanel), Glitch (Alan Cumming), Cain (Neal McDonough), and Raw (Raoul Trujillo) are confronted by sorceress Azkadellia (Kathleen Robertson) in the frozen palace of the North. DG awakens to find herself back in her room in Kansas, with her parents telling her about the storm from the previous night. DG tries to tell her father about her “dream” of The O.Z., particularly the part where her real mother, the sad former Queen, tells her the location of the fabled Emerald that will allow her to stop her evil sister, Azkadellia. When DG can’t recall the secret, the farm fades and DG realizes it was all an illusion created by her sister, who reprogrammed her robotic surrogate parents.
Meanwhile, Glitch regains consciousness and discovers Cain, nearly frozen to death, just outside the palace. Raw has been imprisoned along with two other Viewers. The sorceress puts DG in a cell near the Mystic Man (Richard Dreyfus), who tells the girl she must travel South to unlock the memories that her mother guarded with magic. When Azkadellia enters the cell, she draws off the aged wizard’s life, killing him. Cain and Glitch make their way to Azkadellia’s fortress, disguising themselves as Longcoats. DG escapes her cell with the help of a small dog, and frees Raw. They all meet up inside the bowels of the castle, and DG follows the little dog’s lead through enormous machinery to the outside. Once they escape, the little dog transforms into a heavyset, older man (Blu Mankuma). This is The Tutor, who mentored young DG and Azkadellia in the ways of magic. As a child, DG mispronounced his title as Toto, and the nickname stuck. Claiming to be sent be the former Queen in a dream to help DG, the others don’t realize he’s actually a spy sent into their midst by the evil sorceress, in the hopes he can unlock DG’s blocked memories.
It’s more important than ever that DG remembers where the Emerald is hidden, as Azkadellia intends to use its magic to fuel the dreaded Sunseeder, a device created by Glitch that the sorceress will pervert into a weapon to destroy all of The O.Z. Having destroyed the only blueprint of the device, this was why Azkadellia had a portion of his brain removed; the portion that contained all knowledge of how to build and operate it. As they head South, more of DG’s past trickles back to her, and she starts tapping into her own magical abilities. But, it’s when Cain kills one of Azkadellia’s Monbats, and they then arrive at the old palace in the South, that a horrific truth regarding Azkadellia’s turn to evil is revealed to DG.
Part Two picks up the pace a bit, and the story starts to divert more from the original Oz format. Dreyfus puts in a few nice performance touches to the Mystic Man this time, and Cumming gets a few moments to shine as Glitch is shown in flashbacks. Deschanel is still somewhat wooden as DG, and Robertson has quite a few scenery-chewing moments. She’s obviously enjoying herself in her villainness role, it’s just a shame the part is written as a super-cliché. The plot varies between three basic scenes: Azkadellia being bitchy and demanding the Emerald be found, our quartet (quintet once Toto joins in) traveling towards DG’s destiny, and DG having some sort of flashback to her childhood. This gets tiring quickly, as does the mixing of fantasy elements (Longcoats on horseback) and present-day elements (Longcoats riding in cars and troop transports). In not being able to sustain a particular style or mood, the story ends up disjointed. It just isn’t clever enough to blend the modern and the fantastic, which is a sure sign of sloppy production design.
TIN MAN concludes tonight (12/4) at 9:00 PM on the Sci-Fi Channel.
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