Ever wonder what a mini series about the Wizard Of Oz but not really about the Wizard Of Oz following Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion and Toto but not really Dorothy, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Cowardly and Toto in a brand new adventure would be like?
Well too bad: Tin Man exists and that's that.
Zooey Deschanel stars as the annoyingly named D.G., a waitress living in Kansas, as she is swept back into a strange land known as The O.Z. by a tornado. Because... why wouldn't you travel by tornado? Once she gets there, we find ourselves in very familiar territory and yet rather alien territory as well. Numerous changes are made to the classic tale by L. Frank Baum and, although some of them are admittedly interesting updates, it feels like the mini series is almost trying to hide its Wizard Of Oz-ness as much as possible. It's unclear whether we're following Dorothy's first journey back to Oz or whether this is a completely unrelated adventure or whether it's Dorothy's descendent's first journey back. All this to say this is a needlessly convoluted endeavour and rarely in a good way. Halfway between a reboot, a sequel and something completely different, Tin Man tries very hard to find its own unique voice but sadly just ends up shooting in every direction before settling on a twist-free, anti-climactic denouement.
While Tin Man does feel like an early draft of something written off the top of someone's head, it does have its plus points. Zooey Deschanel is reliably adorable as D.G. even though the script often lends itself to the occasional unconvincing, wooden line reads. Richard Dreyfuss is fun (if criminally underused) in what is essentially just a cameo appearance. Alan Cumming and Neal McDonough offer strong support, giving the mini-series and their characters (Glitch and Wyatt Cain respectively) the solid structure it sorely needs and Kathleen Robertson hams it up admirably as the show's villainous witch. Sadly, our cowardly lion is a non-event and the fact that Toto is in fact an old dude (played by Blu Mankuma) is honestly confounding. This is one of those shows which, if you like what it's based on, is entertaining enough to sit through and involving enough that you want to see how everything turns out. That said, as a different take on L. Frank Baum's world, it's completely inconsistent and fatally uneven and unfocused. It's both very inventive and a missed opportunity, plus it's ridiculously long.
Tin Man is hardly essential viewing and I would suggest checking out the much shorter and better Return To Oz if you haven't already. If you do find yourself watching it, though, it's not awful and the charm of the cast and the colourful, wacky setting alone should carry you through.
An underwhelming if harmless effort.