Wednesday, December 05, 2007

So What Did We Think Of Tin Man?

I haven't noticed a great groundswell of interest for Tin Man in the portion of the kidlitosphere in which I travel, even though it is a variation on the kid classic The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The mini-series ran on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday evenings on the Sci Fi Channel. Fuse did wonder what I thought of it, though, and, hey, I never have to be asked that kind of thing twice.

I definitely enjoyed picking up the references to and riffs on the movie version of The Wizard of Oz, which is the only Oz, I know. I liked how they entwined this new story around the old one.

I thought the main character, DG, was a little polarized. She appeared to be feisty, riding a motorcycle and picking up a stick to head into any fight she encountered. But she also looked totally stunned by what she was experiencing, pretty much all the time. I didn't think the two aspects of the character came together very well.

I really liked the neo-scarecrow. He was both a play on the movie scarecrow and very new. The lion was okay, but I didn't realize he was supposed to be cowardly until late in the plot. I found the tin man to be a problem. We definitely got more of a back story on him than on the scarecrow or the lion, but I didn't find him so pivotal to the story that it justified naming the program for him. Plus, his character was pretty much a stereotypical tortured, maybe noir, lawman. I think that could have been neat in Oz, but it didn't really work for me.

One thing that interested me a great deal about Tin Man is how similar the initial portion of the plot is to that of The Looking Glass Wars, which is also a variation on a classic, Alice in Wonderland. In both stories, you have an evil sister who overthrows the legitimate royal ruler of a kingdom. In both stories you have a young female royal family member who is hidden away in the real world for her own safety. She isn't aware of who she really is. (DG really doesn't know. Alyss has become so isolated from her own reality that she finally accepts the one she finds here.) Both young women have to go back to their fantasy worlds to save their kingdoms.

I don't know what that's about. Perhaps evil sisters and princesses in disguise are staples of fantasy and everyone uses them.

So there you have it, my response to Tin Man. In a nutshell, I'd say it was interesting, worth watching if you're at all interested in Oz, but with weak spots.

Speaking of The Looking Glass Wars, today bookshelves of doom reviews Seeing Redd, the second book in The Looking Glass Wars Trilogy. It was published in August. The first book got lots of buzz, but I'd heard nothing about the second one until I read Leila's review today.

5 comments:

Sheila said...

Thanks for posting this! I also had been wondering what you thought of it. You make some interesting points and I like the parallel to The Looking Glass Wars. I hadn't thought of that, but you're right that there are some similarities.

I enjoyed it for the most part, although I was hoping to see more references to the book, and most of the references seemed to be movie references (although the slippers were silver when they made a cameo appearance). Do you think that the mark that the hovering robot put on her hand was a reference to the kiss of the Witch of the North?

I did like the dark, dystopian vision of Oz, and while I see your point about the Tin Man, I actually liked his character a lot. The Queen came across as a pretty weak and bland character, and pretty ineffectual even before she gave up her powers. (Did she really not notice that something was different about her older daughter?)

Overall, though, I enjoyed it. It also reminded me a little of the mini-series The Tenth Kingdom, which I also enjoyed.

Eugenia said...

I blogged about Tin Man here. IMO, it sucked big time.

gail said...

Sheila--I've never read any of the Oz books, and I don't recall a Witch of the North from the movie. I never gave a thought to whether or not the mark on the hand was a reference to something.

Yes, I found the queen weak and bland, too. At several points when we see her pre-imprisonment I wondered if she ever did anything. Though in her (and the scriptwriter's) defense, in those scenes I think we're seeing her as DG recalls her, and as a child she would only know her as a mother, not as a CEO. I did think, though, that the queen didn't make a very good move in giving all her magic away in order to hide the whereabouts of the incredibly important emerald within the child DG. She knew an evil sorceress was active in the area, after all. You'd think she could have put her magic to better use fighting her herself.

But, then, isn't a human figure as some kind of object, or holder of knowledge, a common element in fantasy? Thus making DG a holder of knowledge would presumably make sense?

Eugenia--Your response to Tin Man was interesting because you seem interested in the visual aspects which are, of course, extremely important in TV, while I'm more interested in the written aspects. I was so busy looking for references to text, I didn't pay that much attention to the looks of the series.

You've reminded me that I never saw the last episode of Taken.

Sheila said...

Oh, sorry. The Witch of the North was in the book. I mistakenly assumed that you'd read the book. I wonder if J.L. Bell watched it. I'm curious to know what he thought about it, but he hasn't blogged about it.

Good point about DG seeing the Queen as mother, not as Queen, but even so, she seemed completely ineffectual as both mother and Queen. And yes, giving away her power at that point seemed pretty stupid. While it did make DG receptacle of knowledge about the Emerald, you gotta ask, what was the point? Which in turn weakened the whole series, since it was kind of the fundamental point that everything else turned on.

I thought that the series was weakest when it strayed closer to Grimm's fairy tales than Oz, and strongest when it stayed closer to the Ozian source. I liked the dystopian Oz, the characters, their interactions and their quests, but I didn't care so much for the evil witch possessing the sister. And what was the point of creating eternal darkness by freezing the eclipse, anyway? Seemed like a pretty meaningless life goal.

gail said...

" And what was the point of creating eternal darkness by freezing the eclipse, anyway?"

I wondered about that, too.