Tin Man Just As Good As Before In Its Re-Issue

Courtesy:  Mill Creek Entertainment/Syfy

Courtesy: Mill Creek Entertainment/Syfy

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment is preparing to launch the latest release in the legendary Oz franchise onto BD/DVD combo pack on June 11th.  Just in time for the home video release of this latest installment of L. Frank Baum’s, Mill Creek Entertainment has also re-issued Syfy’s Tin Man on Blu-ray and DVD.  This re-imagining of the 1939 fantasy classic was originally released to double-disc Blu-ray and DVD on July 20th, 2010.  This latest Blu-ray re-issue has taken that double-disc presentation and compressed it down to a single disc.  What’s interesting is that while the original double-disc presentation has been reduced to just one disc, little—if anything—has been lost in translation.

For those who perhaps have never seen it, Tin Man takes the classic 1939 big screen adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s classic fantasy story and turns it completely on its ear.  Though, in doing so, it actually manages somehow to maintain more than a fleeting connection to the 1939 original.  If anything, fans of the original will be thrilled to know that it actually maintains the connections quite well in its re-imagining.  The Scarecrow has become a character known as Glitch.  Imagine if you will an updated half-human take on the Scarecrow that looks like a cross between Tim Burton and Martin Short.  What’s more, while he has a brain, he does in fact have a little bit of a glitch in his brain, thus the name.  That glitch makes for a fun running gag throughout the story.  The Tin Man is no longer tin, but human.  Even the Tin Man name itself has been relegated to little more than a derogatory term used for the Wicked Witch’s (In this case, the Sorceress’) enforcers.  It’s explained in more depth within the context of the mini-series.  And don’t expect to see someone dressed up in a lion costume like Bert Lahr.  Even Toto has been somewhat re-imagined.  There’s even more that’s been changed, including the Yellow Brick Road, the Emerald City and so much more.  But viewers will have to check out this eye opening mini-series for themselves to see how much has been re-imagined.  This includes the very story, including the origin story of Dorothy/D.G (Zooey Deschanel).  It is one more element of the whole that is somehow actually believable enough to make the whole story believable and thus fully worth more than just one watch.

While so many elements of Baum’s classic tale have been re-imagined in Tin Man, it’s not such a bad thing.  As a matter of fact, being that this story debuted in 2007, one can’t help but wonder if it played at least a slightly influential role in the creation of Oz The Great and Powerful.  That’s because in comparing the two stories, there are at least some fleeting similarities between the pair in terms of origin stories.  This is about the extent of the similarities.  For that matter, with the mini-series’ success in its original run on Syfy (then Sci-Fi Channel), one can’t help but wonder if it was the success of Tin Man that led to the rise of fantasy based shows on NBC (Grimm), ABC (Once Upon a Time), and Fox (Sleepy Hollow).  It could be argued that it did in fact have an influence on their rise especially since little else was on TV or in theaters before these shows started becoming such hits.

Understanding and appreciating the influence (perceived or real) of Tin Man on other more recent movies and TV shows plays an important role in the enjoyment of this mini-series.  The story will keep viewers engaged throughout all three segments of the program.  It’s not all that will keep viewers engaged throughout the program.  Its special effects will, too.  Unlike so many of the really bad below-B grade movies that Syfy generally churns out, the special effects used throughout this mini-series are actually far less over the top than the aforementioned flicks.  It’s obvious that there is some CG work that was done with the special effects.  But it isn’t as sickly obvious as it is movies such as say, Sharktopus or other equally bad flicks.  In fact, the special effects used in Tin Man are just enough to serve as just enough extra spice to make this story that much more worth watching for anyone that is a fan of The Wizard of Oz.       

All of the work that went into making Tin Man resulted in a feature that stands out among the masses of movies, series, and mini-series churned out by Syfy.  And in the annals of works that have adapted and re-adapted L. Frank Baum’s classic fantasy tale, it stands out just as much.  Having taken into account the work that went into bringing this re-imagining to life, there is one more factor to be examined.  That factor is the packaging of the newly re-issued Blu-ray and DVD.  Viewers will be pleased to discover that with this latest re-issue of Tin Man, each segment of the mini-series is separated out into three separate segments.  This will allow audiences to watch each segment by itself or back to back without stopping.  Just as impressive concerning the overall presentation of the new re-issue is the packaging.  Those that purchase the Blu-ray will be happy to discover that instead of the standard envelope packaging used in most Mill Creek releases, the BD is actually placed in its own spot inside the case.  Mill Creek does this sometimes with its releases.  But it more commonly uses single disc envelopes for packaging.  So it’s nice to see this form of packaging once more from Mill Creek.  And it is that packaging in conjunction with everything else that went into the Tin Man mini-series that makes it a presentation that any fantasy and science fiction fan will appreciate.  It is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.

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New Stooges Set A Good Starting Point For Any Stooges fan

Courtesy: Passport Video/Entertainment One

The Three Stooges (Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Curly Howard, Shemp Howard, Joe Besser, Curly Joe DeRita) are without a doubt, one of the greatest teams in the extensive history of great comics.  This trio of comedians has earned more fame over the decades than even The Marx Brothers, Abbott & Costello and Laurel & Hardy.  Countless DVD’s have been released with Stooges materials throughout the decades, too.   Many of those DVD’s were obviously released with little thought.  However, the newest Stooges release, “A Three Stooges Celebration” isn’t one of those, despite what some would want to believe.

“A Three Stooges Celebration” isn’t just another of the countless DVD releases put out in recent years that randomly culls bits and pieces for what it calls a tribute.  What this new double disc release does is it takes the material that has been collected on those various releases in one double disc set for what is the most definitive set yet.  The first disc in the set follows the early days of the Stooges in the 1930’s and 40’s.  Included is rarer footage from the Stooges performance on the Ed Wynn Camel Hour, as well as the shorts, “Hollywood on Parade”, “Sing a Song of Six Pants”, “Knife of The Party” and “Henry The Ache.”  Again, these shorts have been included on previous sets.  But few, if any, of those sets has actually compiled all of the shorts in one set.  One of the more interesting features in that list is the short, “Henry The Ache.”  Fans will note here how short Shemp’s role was.  Bert Lahr was the star of this short.  It wouldn’t be until five years later that Lahr would really be a star, when he donned the costume of the Cowardly Lion in the legendary picture, “The wizard of Oz.”  It’s actually rather ironic that Lahr would play King Henry in “Henry The Ache.”  Those who remember “The Wizard of Oz” will recall Lahr singing, “If I were King of the forest.”  Who would ever have imaged how prophetic playing a king would be in 1934?

The tidbit about Lahr is a great bonus.  It is, however, just a tiny part of what makes this newest set so enjoyable.  Getting back to the Stooges’ history, the first disc also boasts a near hour long documentary that tells the history of the Stooges.  It starts in the group’s early Vaudeville days, telling of how the Stooges teamed with Ted Healey to form Ted Healey & His Stooges.  It follows the trio throughout is lineup changes to its ultimate ending after the death of the two original stooges, Larry Fine and Moe Howard.  Though the real end, according to the documentary came before either one had died.  The group’s end really came after Larry suffered his first stroke.  It left him unable to perform.  So Moe had made the decision for the Stooges’ career to come to a close.

The history lesson and rare footage included on the set’s first disc are a joy for any Stooge’s fans, having finally been collected on one single set, rather than being spread out over countless others.  The addition of the Stooges’ 1960’s “New Three Stooges” cartoons on the second disc is an extra jewel for the collection.  Some people would like to whine and moan at how bad the Stooges cartoons are.  Given, they may not be as great as other cartoons from that era.  But the mere fact that the footage still exists and looks as good as it does here shows that it has stood the test of time.  And for any Stooges or television historian, this is very important.  In an era when so many cartoons are based in either CGI or anime, these hand drawn cartoons have their very own stylistic identity, and even comic identity.  Love them or hate them, they are an important part of the Stooges’ history.  And they are an important part of television history.  That being noted, it’s nice to see them included on what fans will hopefully see as one of the better Stooges collections to come along in a long time.  The two-disc set is available in stores beginning today. 

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