Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Thundertoad's Patchwork Girl of Oz

Jay and Sam start the 2018 episodes with a discussion of Thundertoad Animation's 2005 CGI animated adaptation of The Patchwork Girl of Oz. How faithful is it? How's the visuals? Where can you get a copy? All shall be answered!

 You can listen, download and subscribe at the podcast site, or use the players and links below. The Royal Podcast of Oz is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play Music and other podcast services and aggregators that mirror these.

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Sunday, February 04, 2018

Andrew Lloyd Webber's Wizard of Oz

Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage production of the MGM Wizard of Oz finally made its debut in Australia at the beginning of 2018 (Capitol Theatre in Sydney until February 4, before moving onto Adelaide for April 3 and Melbourne May 15).

Facebook Website

Glinda's dress was WONDERFULLY Sparkling from afar!

This is the version of the 1939 take where Andrew Llyod Webber and Tim Rice added new extra songs to the story and a few other changes or revisions (possible SPOILERS):

* Dorothy sings "Nobody Understands Me" first,
* Miss Gulch arrives and leaves before Dorothy sings"Over the Rainbow",
* Professor Marvel sings "Wonders of the World" before the storm hits - it is at this moment Dorothy says she'll give Toto to Hunk to protect him from Miss Gulch
* During the Cyclone (an impressive, loud and thrilling scene) with the family and neighbours looking for Dorothy but also taking shelter from the storm (which was projected onto a screen on stage in front of the characters), the audience "rode" alongside Dorothy (who is not seen getting knocked unconscious by her window) as the house was lifted up into the funnel, up through the clouds with the Wicked Witch of the East flying past the window, as the house ascended into the atmosphere, before slowly heading back down "to earth" before falling into Munchkinland - Dorothy had apparently fallen out of her room and bed, landing on the ground outside her damaged house, with darkness surrounding her until Glinda appeared revealing a bright and colourful landscape ... and the sparkling footwear beside her.
* the Munchkins do wear Blue (and their clothing patterns do look like the blue willow dish), although they are not as funny or dolly or silly as the actual film's look, so characters like the Mayor, the Coroner the Lullaby League (three mothers each with a baby wrapped up) and the Lollipop Guild do not stand out from the crowd until their own musical cues
* in the Emerald City:
 - Dorothy blue-and-white gingham literally changes to GREEN-and-white on stage,
 - the Wicked Witch of the West does not appear to threaten the friends after the Tin man's rescue, nor does she skywrite "Surrender Dorothy" but does stand on a side balcony and uses a loudspeaker to warn the Citizens to spare themselves by surrendering Dorothy to her,
* the Wizard sings "Bring Me the Broomstick", which closes Act 1 (there is no "If I Were King of the Forest" number).

View from my seat

* Act 2 has the WWWitch's "Red Shoes Blues" open in the Haunted Forest
* While searching for the Witch, the signs are not seen, but Lion mentions them; and the "Jitterbug" number is not sung but it is referenced when the Friends feel stings and jolts of dancing before being attacked and (Dorothy is) captured by the flying Monkeys,
* "If We Only Had a Plan" is sung by the three guys in trying to save Dorothy,
* Dorothy reprises "Over the Rainbow" while being held captive, but says more than once "I will not cry",
* A funny scene has Toto find the Scarecrow, Tin (wood)man and Lion after escaping the Witch's castle:  Lion asks Toto where Dorothy is, but Tin man says Toto "can't talk, he's an animal!" to which Lion points to himself (an animal who CAN talk).
* Naturally, "Ding-Dong! Emerald City" is included here as a Triumphant number, although it is only the Winkie Soldiers to dance and sing alongside the friends ("Now she won't hit us with the broom any more!")
* After the Wizard's departure, Glinda reappears and sings "Already Home" to and with Dorothy (and others);  upon saying Good-byes, Dorothy says WHY she'll miss Scarecrow most of all, to console a distraught Tin man and Lion
* just like the tornado scene, the no-place-like-home scene has a moment of animation projected on to the stage screen, taking the audience through a swirling cloud funnel (though not as intense or stormy) and falling back into the Kansas landscape,
* Back in Kansas, reunited with her family (plus Professor Marvel) and left alone to rest - because she has been in a coma for the last few days and Miss Gulch has dropped the charge, a breeze reveals the Ruby Slippers in her closet, before a colourful bright Rainbow appears over her farm house's bedroom.

It was an Impressive Show:  there were screens and lights - both BRIGHT FLASHES and spotlights, use of darkness and even fog effects - projection, as well as animation, but most of all was the use of a revolving section on the stage, to allow for scene changes a rotation of views to help move the story along on a static platform.

In Kansas, the Lion's role was foreshadowed by having Zeke's jacket have a dangling cord on his back.  The farmhands also have a mischievous streak where they once shot Miss Gulch with a hose; when she mentioned this "nearly caught my death" to Em and Henry, Dorothy mutters "I wish you did".  Henry and Em also discuss how they took her in and brought her up.

One of the most interesting things I found while watching this version of the "Famous" adaptation is that, while it doesn't fully imply if it's a dream or really happening (so it very much resembles Disney's "Return to Oz" with the ending and storytelling), I did get the feeling that this had a slight psychological layer, as if Dorothy holding onto the Ruby Slippers against the Wicked Witch was an attempt of her subconscious trying to regain her confidence and become a better more reliant person for herself.  Even so, there is still the moment where Dorothy hears Aunt Em and Uncle Henry trying to call out to her when she is imprisoned by the Witch - that is a somewhat more clearer view of her guardians making contact with her unconscious, possibly comatose, self.

If I had a problem with the show, it was only that Glinda tendered to sound a bit like Karen Walker from "Will & Grace" (or the "Wicked" portrayal of 'Galinda').

Whatever view you choose to take while watching this Musical it is definitely worth a look!  And, on a personal note, much more preferable than "Wicked".
While there are many other stage versions of mGM's the Wizard of Oz, this one in particular is most interesting and refreshing, by adding in extra elements of the play and including a few details from the L Frank Baum book.

Having waited years and YEARS for this performance to finally come to Australia, it was worth the wait and I really enjoyed it!
So much so I wish I could see it again and again!  However, until the day this gets released onto DVD, I will just have to contend with the Program and songs and Youtube videos to relive these memories.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Oz: Broken Kingdom

 Since switching to a more capable smartphone, I decided to install some of the recent Oz mobile games.

One of the more interesting ones is Oz: Broken Kingdom. At first glance, it looks like a standard fighting RPG with some dark Oz theme.



It is.

But, it's a book-based dark Oz theme!

The game's story follows a young woman named Ophelia who washes up on the shores of Oz with her cat, who unfortunately died during the trip, but is revived when she's transformed into a crystal cat by Ozma. Ophelia becomes a freedom fighter for Oz, joining with the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman and Lion.

A strange darkness has fallen over the Land of Oz. The Wicked Witch of the East has been revived and many creatures and folks have become aggressive, some even reversing their personalities. Dorothy and the Wizard are missing. Ozma has put the magic of Oz into gems to help protect it. It's up to the freedom fighters to travel through Oz and set it free once again.

There are a lot of characters from the books you'll run into during play: Tik-Tok, "Lady" Ann of Oogaboo, Professor Woggle-Bug, Kalidahs, Polychrome, Mrs. Yoop, the three Adepts, the First and Foremost of the Phanfasms, Jack Pumpkinhead, and the Nome King. The big bad seems to be an original villain.

The game is played through a series of battles you enter by selecting "nodes" from a map screen. You pick one of the fighters and before you enter, you can choose what abilities you can use during the fight.

Each node enters a battle that could be one to five waves of no more than three bad guys per wave. You can choose from four abilities. One of these is free to use at all times. The others use mana, which if you've played other RPG video games, is your points for special moves. These can be offensive abilities, healing abilities, or abilities that will prepare you for a major attack on your next turn. Each turn gives you two mana to work with, and defeating a bad guy earns you an extra one.

And being an RPG, you also have a health meter that is drained as the bad guys attack you. You can use healing abilities or defense boosts to try to keep it from reaching 0. If it empties, you can use a life potion to continue your fight, but you can only do this once per battle.

Leveling up and "evolving" your heroes are of course included to encourage repeated play. The team levels up together, and experience points are earned by winning battles, completing tasks, opening chests won in the arena and upgrading abilities and companions. To "evolve" your heroes, you have to collect pearls. To upgrade your abilities, you collect cards and use essence to level them up once you have enough. Essence is earned all throughout the game with each battle, redeeming coins at the Well of Wonders, in chests won in the arena, and it's often given freely as a daily gift.

The game gives you free items every day. When you start the game, there's a screen that gives you a free gift each day, and signing in every day eventually gives you an extra one. The Great Tree of Oz gives you 25 free Emeralds every 24 hours, but the countdown to the next one begins when you collect them. Coins for the Well of Wonders in the Emerald City (which serves as the main base for the game) are given freely: a bronze coin is given once every 4 hours, and a silver coin is given once every 24 hours. The countdown to the next free coin begins when you redeem the last one. You can also purchase more coins with emeralds. Also, keep an eye on the mailbox in the Emerald City as it sometimes contains important messages that include free gifts.

The game also features an "arena," where you can fight other players throughout the world live. You pick two companions (who can be leveled up just like your abilities) to fight a randomly selected other player from anywhere in the world. Winning a match earns you trophies, losing a match costs you trophies. The more trophies you have, the higher your league, but if you lose enough matches, you can go back to a previous league. Defeating an opponent or their companion earns you a star, and when you earn 15, you can open a Star Chest which has more free items inside. Defeating your opponent instantly wins the match and earns you three stars and a chest of wood, silver or gold. Wooden chests take two hours to unlock, silver takes four, and gold takes eight, but you can use emeralds to open them right away or watch an advertisement to take an hour off of your wait time, but you can only do this once an hour. Chests contain essence, cards to upgrade your companions, and a few random items depending on what level chest you got: it could be a gem, a pearl or a coin for the Well of Wonders.

It's also possible to bolster your fighters with gems you can craft. Crafting takes essence and either ore or gems that are not equipped. You can craft ore into a common gem, then craft two common gems into an uncommon gem, and you get the idea. The higher evolved your heroes, the more gems can be equipped to them, and the more you're leveled up, the better the gems you can craft.

To encourage you to play every day, the game gives you daily tasks: upgrade three abilities, craft three gems, redeem five coins, win three battles with each fighter (you can go back and replay battles you're now overpowered for and it'll still count) and also purchasing emeralds (which I don't do). You are rewarded with experience points, essence and keys used to unlock certain nodes that'll lead you to special battles and treasures.

There is also a Rainbow Road event where you earn crystals. In Rainbow Road, you fight through increasingly difficult waves of baddies with handicaps: you only recover health after so many fights. (In regular battles, you instantly go back to full health once the battle's done.) There are also other status effects.

This being a mobile game, there's of course an item shop where you can use emeralds, crystals, essence or actual money to make purchases. Among these are pearls, gems, more emeralds and essence, cards and even adding Jack Pumpkinhead to your team of fighters. So far, I've only bought an occasional number of life potions, which are four for $.99, which seems pretty fair considering it's an item in a digital game. Money might not exist in Baum's Oz, but micro transactions keep the development of the game going. So while I'm not a fan of sinking a lot of money into a digital game, consider making an occasional purchase as a tip to the developers.

Playing through battles costs energy, which is replenished one unit every five minutes. The amount of energy you have increases by one unit every time you level up. You can also replenish your energy with an energy potion. Each series of stages generally use progressively more energy, tapping out at 10 per battle.

Leveling up tip: if you perform really well in a battle, it's marked with three stars. You can replay any battle, but if you earned three stars, you can "raid" it instead for the same amount of energy it would take to play it. Raiding gives you all the rewards you would have gotten for playing through. It's a good way to earn more essence and experience points if you have extra energy and aren't ready to progress further into the game's battles. Note that raiding is not counted towards winning a battle with a character for your daily tasks.

For being this type of RPG, the story is fairly well-done and the graphics are quite beautiful and detailed, although some depictions of the Oz characters are rather unique. The sound is also rather immersive, although it can be turned off. The Android version uses your Google login to record your progress, so presumably (but I haven't tested this) you can continue playing if you switch to another device.

If you're a gamer who enjoys Oz, Oz: Broken Kingdom might prove quite a bit of fun. It's available for iOS and Android mobile platforms.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Oz in 2017

As 2017 comes to a close, let's look back on what has happened these last twelve months with Oz:

* We got not one, not two ... but THREE versions of Oz as Series: NBC's "Emerald City" (heavily influenced by MGM and "Game of Thrones"), WB's Boomerang "Dorothy And the Wizard of Oz" (an animated series to MGM, but not quite in canon and lacking exposition and consistency) and Amazon's "Lost in Oz" online series.
Each of these shows has varied degrees of acceptance and response ... but I feel like "Lost in Oz" is the best of the bunch and deserves a second season most of all.

* A date for the "Wicked" movie was announced for December 2019

* L Frank Baum's "Life and Adventures of Santa Claus" story - as well as the short story "A Kidnapped Santa Claus" - was bestowed with a new illustrated book by Eric Shanower and IDW Publishing

* the 1987 PanMedia/Cinar-dubbed anime series for "Wonderful Wizard (and Marvelous Land, Ozma and Emerald City) of Oz" was finally released to DVD and Standard-Blu-ray home video by Discotek Media, coinciding with its 30th Anniversary - so now viewers can finally watch the actual episodes, even if the American quality is not as good as the original Japanese release (but hopefully the original Japanese episodes with be released further down the line with English-subtitles).

* John Fricke made a vague mention of some "jittery" forthcoming news yet to be announced . . .

* the Fan-made documentary "Remembering Return to Oz" with a series of interviews is nearing completion, most of all concluding with an interview on Fairuza Balk - the release should hopefully be in 2018.

* L Frank Baum's Oz books "Ozma of Oz" was one-hundred-and-ten, "Lost Princess" reached its Centennary - which was celebrated at OzCon in Portland, Oregon in June-July this year.

Next year we celebrate the 100th Anniversary for L Frank Baum's "the Tin Woodman of Oz" ... and who knows what else the year will have in store for Oz, planned or surprise?

Thank you for staying tuned to this Blog and the Royal Podcast ... we'll see you in the New Year!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

The Royal Podcast of Oz: The 2017 Christmas Special

Jay reads two stories from Oziana 2013, "Jinnicky Saves Christmas" by Nathan DeHoff and his own "The Way of A Lion." Afterward, he and Nathan chat about creating their tales.

 You can listen, download and subscribe at the podcast site, or use the players and links below. The Royal Podcast of Oz is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play Music and other podcast services and aggregators that mirror these.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Jay and Sam vs The Muppets Wizard of Oz

Jay and Sam tackled The Muppets Wizard of Oz. When did they see it and how? What did they think? How much does Sam hate Quentin Tarantino?

You can listen, download and subscribe at the podcast site, or use the players and links below. The Royal Podcast of Oz is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play Music and other podcast services and aggregators that mirror these.

 Download this episode (right click and save)

Thursday, October 26, 2017

The Royal Podcast of Oz: Garrett and Angelo vs The Muppets Wizard of Oz

Former podcast guests Garrett Kilgore and Angelo Thomas talk The Muppets Wizard of Oz.

 You can listen, download and subscribe at the podcast site, or use the players and links below. The Royal Podcast of Oz is available on iTunes, Stitcher, Player.FM, Google Play Music and other podcast services and aggregators that mirror these.

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Creating Oz dolls

When Oz the Great and Powerful came out, I decided to pick up dolls based on the characters. I didn't have a lot of Oz toys, and decided this would be a nice start. This was followed by picking up the new line of Barbie dolls based on the MGM film. Finally, I picked up a Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return doll that was the closest to her film appearance.

But being a fan of the Oz books and knowing of many of the Oz characters who have rarely appeared in film—much less be made into a mass-produced toy—I decided maybe to look into making my own custom Oz dolls. Specifically, Ozma and a Neill-inspired Glinda. (Thanks to the above, I had three Glindas already, two different costumes for Oz the Great and Powerful and MGM.) Getting another idea, I decided to add Polychrome to the list.

Finally, after spotting potential dolls to use for bases, I decided to go for it. I began looking online for dresses. I know how to whipstitch and mend clothes and back in the day made tiny plush characters, but by no means was I wanting to create a dress from scratch.

Here's what I picked up from Amazon:

- One rainbow dress.
- Two white wedding dresses. (Note: these came from a seller in China and took 40+ days to arrive, so plan ahead on this one or find another one.)
- One Barbie Fashionista Terrific Teal doll. (This would serve as my base for Glinda since she has red hair.)

These other items I bought on eBay or in stores, but I'm linking to Amazon listings for illustrative purposes.
- One Barbie Careers Farmer doll. (This would be my base for Ozma.)
- Kneadite (known as "greenstuff" by model makers).
- Various colored sequins.
- Red tulle
- Beading wire
- Rainbow colored ribbon
- Acyrlic paint, blue, cranberry (but I should've gone with metallic red) and metallic gold colors
- Hot glue sticks
- Paint brushes
- Velcro circles
- Small squares of red and green material.
- Red glitter nail polish.
- Black cylindrical coffee stir (this was free)
- A loose nude blonde Barbie doll from a thrift store, carefully selected for quality. (This would be my base for Polychrome.)

Items I already had at home:
- Needle and thread.
- Twist tie.
- Scissors.

I had all of Polychrome's materials together first and she was fairly simple The rainbow dress had a glittery belt that I didn't like, but it was easy to remove with scissors. I considered giving her the cap seen in Neill's pictures, and I suppose I could using a small amount of kneadite, but considering that kneadite + doll hair = a big mess to remove, I decided to use some rainbow ribbon around the head instead. Some more rainbow ribbon tied around her arms and shoulders, and the look was complete. I have since altered it with the use of hot glue, affixing the ribbon directly to her head and dress.
Ozma and Glinda both proved a little bit of a challenge. Their designs had been inspired long ago when I was digitally coloring a scan from the International Wizard of Oz Club's edition of The Oz Toy Book and I discovered a nice costume design for them that involved them having white dresses. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz specifically says Glinda wears a white gown, and Boq mentions that "only witches and sorceresses wear white." Ozma is neither a witch or a sorceress, but considering her level of authority and that she can do magic, it would not be disrespectful for her to wear that color.

Glinda has blue eyes according to Wonderful Wizard, but the Terrific Teal doll has brown. A task for a careful hand and eye (and I am nearsighted with glasses), I repainted the eyes using a bit of blue paint on the tip of a needle.

Although their dresses were actually completed last, I'll go ahead and detail what I did with them first. Note that I did cut off some material from the red square of material to make Ozma's poppies. The dresses I purchased had little brooches on the chest. Glinda's tore off while I was applying it. I didn't intend to show it, but had intended to hot glue red sequins over it. This allowed me to apply the sequins directly to the dress. Ozma's did not tear off, but I made a design with a bit of hot glue, applying a purple sequin at the top, a blue one to the right, a red one to the bottom, a yellow one to the left, and a green one in the middle overlapping the others. I had intended to put these on a base made of kneadite, but the design with just sequins looked better.

The Material was made into cloaks that flowed from their shoulders, tucked into the front of the dress and sewn in. Further tucks and folds were secured with hot glue.

Ozma's crown, I had to decide not to use the cylinder crown she has on top of her head in some illustrations. The only option would be to secure it permanently to her head with hot glue or kneadite. The circling tiara was made of beading wire, with the OZ logo made of kneadite and painted gold. The flowers were made of bits of red material folded in half and rolled a little crookedly, sewn to secure their look. They were secured to the crown using unpainted kneadite.

Now, you might say, "What is kneadite?" and it's a sculpting epoxy I first used back when I created Oz action figures. It's called "greenstuff" because it arrives in strips of blue and yellow epoxy, which you knead together into a green epoxy that can be sculpted into any form you like. It bonds to most surfaces.

Glinda's hair is secured in a hairnet that she wears in many illustrations. A hairnet worn for fashion rather than practical purposes is called a "spood," and I used red tulle to make the spood, bunching up the hair in the tulle and creating the hairnet look by twisting it together on the top of the doll's head, securing it with a twist tie.

The twist tie tie off proved to be the base of the cylinder worn on Glinda's crown that Neill designed. I went for a simple design, made completely of kneadite. However, before anyone copies what I did, I must stress that once that kneadite is on the doll's head, it's on there, so you're going to have to commit to making this change to the doll. It will be permanent. Once it was set and dry, I painted it with the cranberry paint, making it pink. I then hot glued some red sequins on it. A friend who has experience with redressing dolls suggested that I redo her crown with red glitter nail polish, which admittedly made a very nice effect, although I had to work around the sequins.

I decided to accessorize Ozma with her scepter and the Magic Belt. I picked up a coffee stir and trimmed it short, adding kneadite to cap off the bottom and creating the OZ logo at the top. Painting it gold finished the look. The Magic Belt was made with more of the rainbow ribbon painted gold. Velcro fasteners made it removeable, and a pattern of red then silver sequins were hot glued on.

 That's it, that's how I did it.

I might do more. Mattel has a line of petit body type dolls that'll work for characters like Dorothy, Trot and Betsy.

If you use some of my ideas that I've detailed here, let me know with a comment. You don't have to use the same dolls I used or the same dresses or ideas. Make these characters the way you want. That's the fun of doing crafts where you create a customized figure.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Ages of Oz: A Fiery Friendship

Given the current age of self-publishing, an Oz book released by a major publisher is pretty interesting. Enter Gabriel Gale's Ages of Oz: A Fiery Friendship.

Gabriel Gale has been the subject of a featured article in The Baum Bugle, and has featured at Ozstravaganza in Chittenango, New York. I even had someone heartily recommend the book and tell me about his presentation.

Ages of Oz seems to be a potential franchise of books that they plan to branch into film. In fact, it seems it was originally planned to be a film franchise before they decided to make it into a series of novels first. That seems to explain why the book is written by Lisa Fiedler. Story by Gabriel Gale, written by Lisa Fiedler. The series is planned to serve as a prequel, midquel and sequel to Baum's books (Thompson and the rest are ignored).

A Fiery Friendship follows the adventures of young Glinda Gavaria as she sets out to seek her destiny as she seeks how to rescue her mother Tilda from the wicked witch Aphidina and rescue Ember, the Fire Fairy. Joining her are a number of new friends, chief among these Locasta, a girl from the Gillikin Country who she doesn't get along with at first.

I bought this book in late July, and only just finished today. You'll notice that late July was also when I when I posted my last book review here.

Although I realize that I am also a writer of Oz fiction and may have similar criticisms aimed at my work sometime, I'm going to have to say it...

I found the book exceptionally boring. There was nothing particularly interesting about the characters. Yes, I know, this introduces Glinda and Locasta as young women and supposedly sets up how the order of Wicked Witches took over Oz before the Wizard arrived, but besides that, I was left wondering "so what?" Glinda taking on a task that has the end goal to restore Ozma to the throne is basically something Baum established in The Marvelous Land of Oz, and fan interpretation that she may have orchestrated an event or two in Wonderful Wizard is so common, some of my ideas wound up popping up in another work I recently enjoyed by someone who I'd never contacted.

Oz prequels have been quite the trend. I've even thought of a few concepts over the years and even tried to pen them into stories. The one I did complete, The Way of a Lion, actually won an award. However, I wrote that to complement the events of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to provide a deeper story arc for the Cowardly Lion. The problem with many Oz prequels—including the ideas I've had—is that they try to define how Oz works in a way that limits future stories, or even prevents other stories from taking place in the same continuity. And these ideas are never universally embraced by the fans.

In addition, the story felt like it was the first third of a movie, novelized and stretched out to over 400 pages. A recurring motif that bothered me was splitting a sentence of prose into its own paragraph for dramatic effect, eschewing typical sentence structure. This is fine if you're blogging or writing some piece where you're addressing the reader. In storytelling prose, it's typically not done. It probably bugged me much more because I'd just done a sentence and paragraph structure overhaul of a story a couple of friends wrote.

Perhaps Ages of Oz will go somewhere interesting, but A Fiery Friendship failed to impress me. Okay, the illustrations are impressive, but they don't really feel like Baum's Oz. They're nicely detailed and all, but there's no spirit of fun or whimsy that's a trademark of Baum's Oz. In fact, that's true of the text as well.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

The Chronicles of Oz - The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Sometime back, I noted that my own The Royal Podcast of Oz was the only podcast I could find dedicated to Oz. And while that's still true, there is another podcast that's doing Oz: Crossover Adventure Productions.

This podcast presents something I'd love to do: full audio dramas with sound effects, a full cast and music. They seem to be famous for Doctor Who dramas, but more recently, they've finished the first season of The Chronicles of Oz, which adapted The Wonderful Wizard of Oz in six episodes.

To be fair, I'm about to start the final episode, but I think I've heard enough to give a good review of it. And I do mean good.

If you're reading this, chances are you've read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and know the story, and yes, despite this being a "reimagining," it follows the plot of the book pretty well. The difference is how they do it.

It's clear that the writer behind the series—Aron Tomach—knows his Oz and decided to present an Oz based on the entire Baum series, presented as a unified world. Lurline, Ozma, Jinxland, Oogaboo, Zixi and Mombi get name dropped. The Wicked Witch has an assistant named Ugu.

However, it's not quite as if this is going to be for all ages. There's some language parents would likely not want young listeners listening to, and this take on Oz gets more on the violent side. The death of the Wicked Witch of the East prompts civil war in Munchkinland. Boq is reimagined as a Munchkin who volunteers to see Dorothy to the Emerald City, but he's no longer around by the time Dorothy meets the Scarecrow. This is just giving you an idea of what you're in for, not a list.

There's some additions and changes to streamline the story and make it more dramatic, but since this is a free-to-access podcast, I'm going to let you discover it for yourself.

The voice cast does a very good job and manages to be very entertaining with the script. Being an Australian-based podcast, some non-American accents are present. The sound effects are nicely done and the music is excellent. So, it's not just a free audio drama, it's a free quality audio drama.

That said, I wound up enjoying the presentation. This is what I'd want from an Oz for more mature audiences, one that focuses on mature storytelling over reveling in mature subject matter. Looking forward to finishing the series on my way to work tomorrow morning, and look forward to future Oz stories from this podcast.

You can download the mp3 files from their website, or you can listen to the series on YouTube, or subscribe through iTunes or search "Crossover Adventure Productions" in your favorite podcast app, and if that fails, you can give it the link to this RSS feed.