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A modern day Wonderland for SyFy's ALICE

by Eli Reyes

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With Tim Burton's Alice In Wonderland not due in theaters until next March, the SyFy Network is looking to scoop up viewers in need of a Wonderland fix.

SciFiWire reports that this December, SyFy will bring us back to Wonderland, with the mini-series Alice, based on Lewis Carroll's 1866 book, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. But this interpretation comes with a modern-day twist,  by imagining how Wonderland might have evolved over the last 143 years.

Sound kinda familiar? Well Alice writer/director Nick Willing did something quite similar with Sci-Fi's Tin Man, a re-imagining of The Wizard of Oz, which starred Zooey Deschanel as a grown up Dorothy.

For Alice, Willing builds on the idea of...

... envisioning a fantasy world with problems, that drag real-world humans in.


That sounds deep and all, but if you think harder, doesn't that kinda just mean "older" humans? Wasn't Alice real in Carroll's story? Maybe I'm missing the point.

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Matt Frewer as the White Knight, Caterina Scorsone as Alice Hamilton, Andrew Lee Potts as the Hatter

At a press conference in Pasadena, CA: Willing explained some changes made to the world and the characters...

The White Rabbit is very different. It's not just one character; it's a secret organization that works for the Queen of Hearts and abducts people from our [real-world] land, so they can gamble in the Queen's casino. The 'oysters,' as these human beings are called, are put to play there so their emotions can be drained by the Queen. That is the currency of Wonderland. You can feel whatever you want when you want to feel it. Just take a sip of lust or euphoria.


(I know a guy who can get those same "potions!" Except they're in pill form I think.) Show me one of the "White Rabbit's" and maybe I'll get on board with that.

The Queen, played  by Kathy Bates, gives her people the instant fix of human emotions as a way to pacify them as they had become too unruly when left to their own devices. Willing explained further:

The Queen's potions were her way of creating a world of instant gratification so she could control her population.


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Kathy Bates as the Queen of Hearts, Colm Meaney as the King of Hearts

By the evolutionary logic of the series, the original Alice died of old age in the last century. The new Alice played by Caterina Scorsone, will be very different from Carroll's. Willing said:

Obviously, she's not a little girl. She's a woman with all the kind of female problems that come from falling in and out of love. So that's one very different character.


Willing explains that in this version of Wonderland, the Mad Hatter, played by Andrew Lee Potts is more cunning than crazy.

Hatter in my story; he's a little nuts, but he's pretty solid, too. He's a ducker and diver, as we say in England. He's got a lot of street cred. He's the guy that helps Alice try to find the man she loves, who's been abducted by the White Rabbit.


So with a slew of changes, and Burton's own re-imagining of Alice In Wonderland on the way, why bother with the methadone that is SyFy's Alice?

Willing gives the bottom line on his vision:

Basically, what we did is drew upon the kind of surreal aspects of that world and turned them into the surprises of a thriller and wove a very powerful love story throughout. It's not the Alice in Wonderland that you would've seen adapted many times before. This is a much racier, tougher, sexier, more driven [show] with a classical story, more like a kind of thriller with twists and turns and surprises.

 

It's got to be funny. The original is very funny. It's still very fresh. It's got to be full of surprises. It's got to have a very, very strong visual flair. These are all touchstones that drove me when I was developing the show.


This could end up being quite a hit. I hate to keep comparing it to this, but it obviously won't have the hype machine that Burton's will have. But if Alice In Wonderland turns out like his remakes of Planet Of The Apes or Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, we could be following SyFy's Alice down the rabbit hole instead.

What do you think of this modern-day retelling of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland?

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