Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches

Tin Man, The SciFi Channel's reimagining of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz begins airing on Sunday night as a three-night miniseries. It's a complete refab of the entire book as you know it, set in the O.Z., or Outer Zone. The 13-year-old kid in us loved the complete reworking of something that has quite frankly become stale and boring over the years. But the cynical adult in us has some problems with the story.

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches

Welcome to the O.Z., Bitches


Our inner tween loved the sci-fi touches in this darker, more violent Oz. Every holiday season The Wizard of Oz comes on television, and ding, dong the witch is dead and all that jazz. Sure it's charming to some degree, but by the fifteenth time you've seen the thing, you're ready to seek solace in something new. Which is where Tin Man comes in. You've got holographic projections, people getting shot left and right, an evil queen who can suck the life out of you, and an entire town full of robots where no humans are allowed.

But our inner adult had some quibbles. First of all, it's called Tin Man, but the Tin Man isn't central to the story. In fact the title will lead some people to think that this is a miniseries version of The Tin Woodman of Oz, which was the 12th book in the Oz series. Second, the main character D.G. simply accepts the fact that she's in an entirely new world right away, yet wanders through the rest of the story with a slack-jawed, wide-eyed face. By the time night three rolls around, you'll find yourself wondering if she might be missing a few marbles.

The new miniseries revolves around D.G. (Zooey Deshcanel), a restless young motorcycle-riding waitress living with her parents in Kansas. She begins having strange dreams and visions of a woman who is trying to tell her something. This enigmatically leads her parents to remark "it's time." Strange men in long black leather coats called "Longcoats" (hooray for clever names) show up via a tornado and attack the family. Mom and "Popsicle" (as D.G. calls her dad) take D.G. to the roof and toss her off into the cyclone. After a couple of seconds they hop off too. That's how D.G. gets to the OZ, where munchkins are resistance fighters.

Other changes: the Wicked Witch-esque villain has flying monkeys tattooed on her neck, which come to life and do her bidding. The titular Tin Man is a cop who's been imprisoned in a steampunk suit of armor, where he's been forced to watch a projected holographic time-loop of the day his family was taken away from him. Richard Dreyfuss plays The Mystic Man, a sideshow psychic who can see visions of the future when he takes "the vapors." When he performs his act, he appears as a giant green glowing head. Toto is now "Tutor," a man who can turn into a dog and was responsible for D.G.'s education when she was a child. And D.

It would be really fun to see someone turn The Wizard of Oz completely on its ear and set it fully in a science fiction realm without any magic at all. Of course, stories like Farscape and even Buck Rogers use that as a basic premise, but we want to see the Oz story used as a template for a sci fi reimagining. With this new Tin Man series coming out, and cool things like the Oz manga that came out last year, it'll probably only be a matter of time before someone gives it a whirl.