The channel formerly known as SciFi and now known as Syfy is delivering their latest miniseries this week. Entitled Alice, the four-hour adventure is something of a re-imagining of Lewis Carroll's classic Wonderland tales. Both fun and distinctly odd at times, the Halmi-produced event is a reminder of just how much the television landscape has changed over the course of the past decade. Ten years ago this sort of big budget, beautifully produced, all-star event would have aired on a major network during a ratings sweep. Now, it will air on the NBC-Universal owned and ever more and more popular Syfy.
Written and directed by Nick Willing (he also directed SciFi's Tin Man in 2007), this version of Alice stars Caterina Scorsone in the lead role. Alice is no longer a young girl in England, but rather a 20-something karate instructor in the States. Following her kidnapped boyfriend, Jack Chase (Philip Winchester), the story rapidly finds Alice herself falling through a mirror (or, looking-glass, if you will) and into Wonderland.
Still ruled by the evil Queen of Hearts (Kathy Bates), Alice finds herself learning all about this odd land which the Queen rules by bottling the emotions of "Oysters," which is their term for people from our world. The Queen's evil Suits led by the White Rabbit (Allan Gray) have been kidnapping humans for years and Alice rapidly finds herself on the wrong side of the law.
Through the course of her misadventures, our Alice meets up with the Hatter (Andrew-Lee Potts), White Knight (Matt Frewer), a resistance leader named Dodo (Tim Curry), Doctors Dee and Dum (Eugene Lipinski), Caterpillar (Harry Dean Stanton), Carpenter (Timothy Webber), and the King of Hearts (Colm Meaney) among others. Or, in other words, people at least similarly named to those who figure in Lewis Carroll's tales.
The story Willing has constructed here is an interesting one, and it is certainly well conceived, but its relationship to the Carroll stories is not always an easy one. In this Wonderland there is certainly the story of another Alice, a legendary Alice, but what exactly this Alice did is unclear. It would seem impossible – or highly improbable – that the Alice of legend had the sort of interactions in Wonderland that Carroll wrote of, particularly as a version of all those characters is present here.