Monday, February 20, 2017

"The Chronicles of Oz" ~ A Different Dorothy. For Real.

I'm sick of gritty remakes.

I mean, I used to like them. I love American McGee's Alice. Both games. I love Return to Oz, as weird as that head scene was. I dig. I do.

But Dorothy and Alice have been gothed and angsted into the ground. Modernizations have been done into the ground. I'm not going to petition against the existence of them. I might even go see them. But I acknowledge, even as a fan of fantasy adventure and inventive reimaginings, that Wonderland and Oz are two places it's very hard to do anything new with.

Then in sweeps Aron Toman of Crossover Adventures Productions telling me he's doing The Wizard of Oz as political intrigue, and I'm on board immediately.

CAP does primarly Doctor Who fan audios, which is how I got working with them. I don't do much gratis voice work anymore, but Aron is a friend who's patient, kind, and has time for me even when I don't have time to record. There's plenty of people who only ever give me the time of day if they need a voice, but my spare time goes to the people who are there for me with or without it. Thus, I've worked with Aron on multiple stories as multiple characters, and thoroughly enjoyed all of it.

The Chronicles of Oz is a modern spin on the Baum series, starting with The Wonderful Wizard of Oz as a six-episode season (a la Netflix). When I say 'modern,' I don't mean we've suddenly decided that 'Scarecrow' and 'Tin Man' are just mob names, or everyone's a robot or something. I mean Dorothy is a modern teenager and her sensibilities are modern (she throws around a few geek references here and there, for example). But everything else? Well, it's the original books. Magic is magic. Witches are witches. Wizards are shams. And the story goes deep into the first book, including Kalidahs and Winkies and the winged monkeys' flying cap and all those other things that filled the book to the brim but tend to go ignored otherwise.

But here's the thing. Most adaptations show Dorothy as a mystified wanderer who, after bloodlessly ridding charming villagers of a very bad lady, meets three lovely new friends and go off to bloodlessly rid Oz of another very bad lady and then discover that the things they each wanted were in their reach all along. Very sweet, and nothing wrong with that.

But in The Chronicles of Oz, it's looked at from a different angle: what would really happen if a stranger fell out of the sky and murdered a despot? Singing and dancing? Or civil war? How would you really react if you were told that you'd never see your family again unless you murdered a total stranger? And on top of that -- what happens to the government of a country when a foreign murderer is on the loose, and by all accounts she's heading straight for the capital?

It's Oz by way of The West Wing, with politics, drama, humour, and some pretty big scares. And I'm extremely pleased to be a part of it.

The first episodes of The Chronicles of Oz is now available to listen to.