Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Tin Man Cameth And Wenteth

My wife, children, and I spent the last three evenings watching Tin Man on the SciFi channel. If you are not familiar with this new miniseries, it is a riff on the Wizard of Oz story. This production is "oddly familiar, disturbingly different", to borrow a phrase. All of the familiar elements are there: Girl from Kansas is transported to a mystical land where she makes friends with three rejects who aid her in a quest to find some mysterious dude with a curtain fetish; meanwhile, an evil woman tries to confound the girl and her friends by using magic and creepy flying mammals.

The variations on the familiar characters are striking: the Tin Man of the title is not a creature made of metal, but a former cop who used to wear a badge of tin; the scarecrow is replaced by a man who had half of his brain removed, and a zipper stuck on top of his head; the Cowardly Lion is part of a race of timid hairy people who have strong psychic powers; and the girl, D.G., is actually a descendant of Dorothy Gale from the original story. Instead of being raised by an aunt and uncle, D.G. is raised in Kansas by a couple of Cylon skin jobs (or a reasonable facsimile thereof).

What else? Let's see...the wicked witch character uses demonic possession to take over the body of D.G.'s sister; and at one time, she also killed D.G. Yeah, this is heavy. There were six hours to fill. I'm not going to go through the rest of the details.

My wife liked it (she reads books about this kind of stuff all the time), and the kids were not too freaked out by it, though there were some scenes scary enough to make a girl cover her eyes. I thought it was okay. It could have been worse; it definitely could have been better. But I found it watchable. Others did not; those who could changed the channel, while those who could not suffered through.

There was one reason for Tin Man's watchability: Zooey Deschanel. I find her to be one of the most appealing actresses in Hollywood these days, mainly because she seems so real. She's beautiful without being phony; she's the kind of girl you could take home to meet your mother (and who would take you home to meet her mom); and, unless her career takes a downturn, it's doubtful that you will ever see her show up in the Superficial. Plus, she has a really great voice. She made an impression on me the first time I saw this scene:

It wasn't the implied nudity that got me -- it was the sound of the girl singing. Wonderful! She even sings a bit in Tin Man, though under rather more adverse conditions. I like the long, dark haired Zooey better than the blond Zooey, too. Beautiful! Since I'm forty years old, I can start sounding like an old man now: If I were ten years younger, I would so want to marry her.

Yes, I would say that it was worth sitting through six hours of fair-to-middling television to watch her.

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