Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 11: 11:11

No, that title is not a typo, that's the actual name of the episode. Earlier in the series it was established that, when their digital watches read 11:11, Dorothy and Evelyn would make a wish. Well, in this one Dorothy is going to need all the wishing she can find, because Langwidere traps her in a painting of her own house! She and Toto don't appear to have any way of getting out, and for the first time Dorothy is about to give up hope. But then, on that 11:11 wish, Toto hears Evelyn's voice, and finds a portal into another painting. In this one, they find Glinda—the real Glinda, where Langwidere has trapped her. They quickly discover other portals, in the artist's signature (to be specific, the dot in the i in Smith—yes, as in Smith and Tinker), and eventually find their way to a painting in Evelyn's room! Dorothy can at least see and talk to her mother at last, and Glinda vows to do whatever she can to help the Gale family out again

Wait, again? Evelyn's painting is of her ancestor, Dorothy, on her original trip to Oz! She named her daughter after the famous Dorothy. It seems several Gales have all made trips to Oz, and our Dorothy is just the latest. They've all had their issues with the witches, too, but Glinda had hoped that Evelyn's friendship with Cyra had finally put an end to that. Bun Langwidere still hates the Gales, and is using West as a pawn to not only rule Oz, but also to erase Glinda and the Gales from all of Oz history!

This was another of those my-that-went-quick-it-was-so-good episodes. Langwidere's true colors are really showing now, and it's starting to look like she might actually succeed (yeah, right). Smith may get a mention, but Tinker actually shows up, having created a device as part of Langwidere's plans. But the best Easter egg this time around was a Bureau of Magic agent named Wamego. No, don't go looking through your Oz books for that reference, you won't find it. But break out your atlas, because Wamego is a town in Kansas with one of the first Oz museums, and host to an annual Oz festival.

I like the tie-in with the original Dorothy's trip. What we see of her in the painting, she's wearing a blue and white gingham dress and pink sunbonnet, just like in the book. One might wonder how the Oz of Baum's books could turn into the technological society we've been watching for the last eleven episodes, but we saw a lot of magical technology in the books that developed as the series progressed, so I don't see why at least one version of Oz couldn't look like this one.

Only two more to go! Ooh, I'm getting all excited to see how this wraps up! (Stilt no Tin Woodman, though!)

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 10: Bogspeed, Little Shanks!

Other commitments and technical issues kept me from watching yesterday, so of course I had to log in and see what's happening next as soon as I could this morning. Dorothy, Toto, Ojo, West, and Fitz are in the tunnels under the Emerald City, on the run from the Growleywogs and looking for a way out. But when they reach an exit, only to overhear the Nomes sealing it off, they realize that not only will they be trapped, so will the Growleywogs. Despite everyone's best judgement (poor Fitz, who has decided to become good, really doesn't quite get it), they go back to the Growleywogs to warn them, and the Chieftainess convinces the Chief to let them go and not eat them as a result. Reigh, meanwhile, enlists the aid of Agent Pugmill, and together they discover that the Nomes are hiding the magic at the airport. And Scarecrow, being interrogated by General Guph, can't give out any information because of the water of oblivion still affecting his memory. So Guph uses a potion of wakefulness on the Scarecrow, and Scarecrow remembers everything. But when Dorothy and crew emerge in the airport, the Growleywogs take on the Nomes, thus causing Guph to take up the fight before the Scarecrow can tell him anything. Dorothy realizes that the stolen magic is on the blimp, so she plans to steal the blimp and take it to Glinda. This she manages to do, and meets Glinda at the castle—but it turns out that Glinda is not Glinda, but Langwidere in disguise!

This is really starting to get good, and all the plot threads are starting to come together nicely. I think I'm going to like reformed Fitz, once he figures out just what he really wants to do. Only three episodes left to go! (I'm already hoping for an announcement soon about a second season.)

Monday, August 14, 2017

Today's Oz Comic (No Politics in This One)

If my friend Eric Shanower and his artist colleague were still doing their adaptations of Oz for Marvel, they might eventually come up with the situation we see in today's installments of Bluebonnets.

Today's Oz Political Cartoon

Tom Toles today points out just how ridiculous and arbitrary voting laws are becoming in some states. Just follow the red dotted line...

Saturday, August 12, 2017

This Week's Oz Short Story

Actually, the first item in the 1982 issue of Oziana isn't a story, but a script. The short play The Scarecrow's Appreciation Day by Ben P. Indick, with illustrations by Rob Roy MacVeigh, is a neat little one-scener where some of the Scarecrow's friends, while looking for him to celebrate his special day, recall some of their happy moments with him, shown in flashbacks. When the Scarecrow himself turns up, he's all down and dejected for reasons of his own, but the Wizard thinks of a way to cheer him up. It's a nice little character piece, and would make for a fun show sometime somewhere. (I wonder if it's ever actually been performed?)

Lost in Oz, Chapter 9: Down the Yellow Brick Line

This is basically Dorothy and Company's Underground Adventure, as it all takes place in the subway system. Dorothy, Ojo, West, and Toto are captured by Fitz, but his magic is going on the fritz, especially when West finds some magic of her own and makes an escape attempt. She fails, but in the process, Fitz's map of the tunnels breaks and he gets lost—and then the Growleywogs find and capture them all. Scarecrow, meanwhile, having escaped to get help, finally finds someone. Unfortunately, it's the Nomes, and so they capture him. The Growleywogs, meanwhile, want to turn Dorothy and her friends into stew. Working together, they manage to escape, but run into a dead end. Fitz uses the last magic he has to create a hole in the wall, but he has no control. West takes over, but her power is weak and the hole shrinks, even though it stays in one place. Dorothy gets them to work together (against both of their better judgements) and they find a way out. Only problem is, they have no idea where they are, no magic, and no way to contact Reigh or get any other help. Scarecrow, meanwhile, is confronted with the Nomes' General Guph!

It's starting to look like Fitz may not be quite as bad of a bad guy as we've been led to believe, or at least Dorothy has given him some ideas to think about. And the contrast between how Fitz and West use magic makes for some fun plot developments. The Growleywogs are totally unlike what they were like in The Emerald City of Oz. Their love for stew, and then going to sleep to give our heroes a chance to escape, reminds me more of the Scoodlers.

This is still a lot of fun, but I can also tell that things are ramping up for the big conclusion soon. However, I will likely have to skip watching it tomorrow, as I have a big event to go to. But with only four more episodes left, I should wrap this up by the end of next week.

Today's Oz Comic

Today's Pickles is presented without further comment—except that now I'm in my fifties, I'm starting to feel the same way!

Friday, August 11, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 8: The Sticks

This was an episode very much about confidence and finding your own destiny, as both West and Ojo go through some interesting trials. About to hand over the Pearl of Pingaree, West decides to stand up to Langwidere and says no. Langwidere likes Wests confidence so much that she takes West's confidence, and then persuades West to give her the Pearl. West leaves the club dejected, and Dorothy doesn't know how to help her. The next night, on stakeout, the kids fall asleep, but Scarecrow picks up some information: Langwidere lives in the Sticks. The gang heads out there, to a place literally made of sticks, with the intention of confronting Langwidere about getting the Pearl and West's confidence back. Instead, they find Glinda! She's powerless to help them without magic, so Dorothy throws back her shoulders and says she'll get it. On their way back, however, Dorothy, Toto, and Scarecrow get sucked into a quickstick pit, and it's up to West to rescue them. (Tellingly, even though Glinda is watching, she does nothing to help.) She may lack confidence, but West pulled it off and pulled them out, thus gaining newfound confidence. They head back to the Yellow Brick Line to look for Fitz and the magic—where Ojo meets them, now determined to forge his own path. His mother, Margolette (!), convinces his father that Ojo's meant for bigger things than just farming, and his dad comes around and lets Ojo do what he wants.

One really nice Easter egg was the new teacher: Professor Wogglebug. This version is still only the size of a bug, so she (yes, she) needs a projector and microphone to be seen and heard. But sure enough, it was confirmed in the credits that the character is indeed the Lost in Oz version of Professor Wogglebug.

During my Emerald City reviews, my question "Where's the Lion?" became a running gag, before they finally revealed who it was. So now I'm going to start asking, where's the Tin Man?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 7: Little Black Lies

Oh, now this is getting good! Langwidere reveals to West that she is West's aunt. West never even knew she had an aunt! Cyra, West's mother, means well, and tries to explain the situation, but between her fear and West's anger and ambition, she just drives West further towards Langwidere. Dorothy and West try to get the Pearl of Pingaree back so that Langwidere can find Glinda (or at least, that's what they think), but only Ojo's running interference prevents them from being arrested by the Bureau of Magic. West and Dorothy have a falling out (even the best of roommates don't always get along, after all), which leads to West defying Dorothy and everyone else and getting the Pearl. Ojo and Dorothy are worried about her, West finds langwidere to give her the Pearl—and that's where the episode ends. Darned cliffhangers! (You'd think all those years of watching classic Doctor Who would make me immune to that, but no, that's not how it seems to work for me...)

Unlike previous episodes, the little bits of Ozziness in here are totally original, and not based on something from the books. There's a stoplight that's also a talking flower (and the green and red lights have totally different personalities). West has a poster for octopus luchadores (nom that would be fun to see), and Dorothy asks a group of dandelion seeds for permission to use them to find a hidden door. Their joy at their freedom is short-lived when they smash into a wall.

This one really is West's episode, and I can see how some critics have declared this show to be as much about West's journey and maturation as it is Dorothy's. Nika Futterman is doing a great job with her voice, bringing in all kinds of nuances to her moods, sometimes turning on a dime. And this is that rare episode of anything that was so absorbing, I didn't even notice how fast the time was going. The ending took me completely by surprise. And here I was thinking I had too much other stuff to do tonight, and that I could skip it tonight. I am so glad I watched it after all!

Oz in Jeopardy!

The final Oz clue of the season came in the July 26, 2017 game, only two days before the show started its summer break. There were several promising categories in this game that could have been Ozzy, such as Who Wrote It? and Lyrics from Broadway, but it was The Director's Cut, about movie directors being replaced by another director, in the Jeopardy! round that proved to be Ozzy. For $400, this clue was revealed:

Seth, the challenger in the middle, rang in first and correctly responded, "What is The Wizard of Oz?" Sadly, he ended the game in a distant third.

Interestingly, you could have change "fantasy classic" to "historical epic" or some such phrase and still had an equally valid clue, although the correct response would then become, "What is Gone with the Wind?" In fact, the whole category could have been about the shuffling directors of both The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind if the writers had gone that route.

And that is it for now. I really hope I don't end up saving them all for the summer again, but real life has a way of getting in the way, so I make no promises. But I hope I can be a little more timely during Jeopardy!'s forthcoming thirty-fourth (!) season.

Yesterday's Oz Comic

I just discovered this installment of bacön. Not the first one I've seen on this theme, but once again the cartoonist has forgotten that a synonym for "courage" is "guts"!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 6: Wake Up, Wake Up, Wake Up!

Lots of plot points going on in this one, so I'm going to present it as a bullet-pointed list!

  • Dorothy, of course, figured out a way of last episode's cliffhanger. But just as it looked like Fitz was about to get her, the Bureau of Magic shows up and arrests the Nomes. Through it all, Fitz's temper gets the best of him and he reveals that he is the Crooked Magician. Then, realizing what he's done, he kidnaps Toto and runs away with the Nomes.
  • Did I mention the poppies that knocked out Ojo, Dorothy, and Toto during the chase? Fitz later uses them to keep Toto asleep.
  • Miss Langwidere gives all kinds of encouragement to West, who unleashes some of her most potent magic yet (much to the annoyance of the triplets).
  • Miss Langwidere also tears down Fitz for his failures again, until he tells her he has Toto.
  • Ojo has a talk with his father about the Nomes and what's going on with the farm.
  • It's hoagy season on the lunch pail tree!
  • Reigh helps the gang get dirt on Fitz and puts out "Missing Dog" posters for Toto, all of which lead Miss Langwidere to Reigh's lair, where she returns Toto. She just has one favor to ask of Dorothy...and then the episode ends!
I have a sneaking suspicion that this is one of those episodes that doesn't look like it's advancing the plot much, but will in hindsight end up being critical. But we're not even quite halfway through this season yet, so we'll just have to see where it goes from here.

Oz in Jeopardy!

The "Oz" clues of late have been a little lame, but that all changed with the July 18, 2017 game. I was pretty sure when I saw this category in the Double Jeopardy! round:

...I was pretty sure that there would be an Oz clue. But it turned out to be even Ozzier than I realized, thanks to one Oz actress and her witch movie. So, I thought I'd just share the entire category. It started off when Darcy, the challenger in the middle, chose the $400 clue:
Martin, the challenger on the right, correctly responded, "What is The Wizard of Oz?" (Okay, that's the Ozziest part out of the way.) He then chose the next clue, for $800:
Deborah, the defending champion, got in first and guessed, "What is Practical Magic?" She was wrong. Darcy then guessed, "What is The Craft? She was also wrong, but remember those responses for later. Martin then chimed in with, "What is The Witches of Eastwick?" He was also wrong, and Alex told them that the correct response is, "What is Bewitched?" Martin then chose the $1200 clue, which was:
Darcy got in first, and correctly replied, "What is The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? (Narnia is a close cousin to Oz, so that justifies its inclusion in this blog, at least when it pops up in a categor with Oz in it as well.) She then chose the $1600 clue:
Deborah said, "What is Practical Magic?" again, and this time she was right! She chose the final clue for $2000:
Yes, the Fairuza Balk who also played Dorothy in Return to Oz, hence my putting the entire category here. Deborah got in ahead of Darcy, and so she got to ask, "What is The Craft?" again as well. Deborah went on to barely edge out Darcy for the win, and Martin, who was the only one to get the actual Oz clue right, was a distant third.

Only one more clue from this season to go, kids!

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 5: The Pearl of Pingaree

It's getting to the point where I don't want to say too much in these summaries for fear of giving too much away. It's becoming pretty clear that this show is an unfolding mystery, so knowing too much spoils that. But I'll see what I can do. Dorothy, Ojo, and the Scarecrow are off to find information about the Pearl of Pingaree, one of Glinda's magical items that has gone missing. They meet up with Ojo's father, an aquaculturist who knows about everything that grows underwater. He shows them around, but then gets very evasive when the Pearl comes up. Ojo doesn't think much of it, but Dorothy is convenced he knows more than he's letting on, and so she hides and begins to investigate after everyone goes home, including the Nomes. Yep, we get our first look at the Nomes in this episode, and they are very cool, if not much like their counterparts from the books. They discover a hidden oyster farm where the Nomes are trying to grow a new Pearl of Pingaree, but then the robot tending things discovers the original. (Let's just say the Scarecrow was really good at hiding things before he was affected by the water of oblivion.) They try to escape, but are stopped and captured by—who else?—Fitz! West, meanwhile, is summoned by her mother to help out at the clinic where she works, and it doesn't go well. West bristles at the restrictions her mother is putting on her use of magic, but her mother assures her that she's doing the right thing, because magic is dangerous. At the end of the episode, at school, West meets her new substitute magic teacher, Miss Langwidere—whom we met earlier, as she admonished her acolyte Fitz for messing up so badly.

Yup, this is getting good. A whole list of Easter eggs as Ojo's father reels off a long list of people who might want to kidnap Glinda, each and every one of them from the books! Of course the episode title is also an Easter egg, but here Pingaree seems to be a magical property and not a location. And Langwidere, besides also being a character in Ozma of Oz, wears a ruby bracelet. reminiscent of the ruby key she wears in the books. And then there's a lunchbox tree!

I am really enjoying this show, certainly a lot more than a fifty-one year old man should, and not just for the Ozziness. Dorothy is just a cool, spunky kid, and I suspect my niece would be impressed that she's a rock climber. Her relationship with Toto is great, and West just keeps developing layer after layer as a character. We even get a little character arc with Ojo, looking uncomfortable when his father brags about how Ojo will take over the farm some day. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next.

Oz in Jeopardy!

July came at last to this past season of Jeopardy! and it looks like the writers saved the Oz clues for the end, because there were a bunch. It looked somewhat promising when this category turned up on the July 11, 2017 game in the Double Jeopardy! round:

...but anything in quotes means that that will appear in the correct responses, not that it's necessarily about it. So nothing about Oz here. (For the record, the correct responses were Mozart, Mozambique, Fozzie Bear—who did appear in The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, so there's a tiny connection—Paleozoic, and yokozuna.)

Monday, August 07, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 4: Dorothy Meets the Scarecrow

This is now totally uncharted territory for me, since this is the first episode that wasn't part of the Extended Adventure. A lot of this one is Dorothy, Toto, and the Scarecrow trying to figure out what's going on, and why Scarecrow can't remember anything. Glinda eventually shows up, but it turns out to be a holographic recording on a loop. There's no sign of the real her anywhere. Dorothy eventually finds the Great Book of Records (which looks really cool here, and is only the latest volume), but the relevant page is ripped out. Examining the next page, however, shows what happened. But Dorothy also trips an alarm and causes the castle to fill with oblivion water. Ah, but Dorothy appears to have a new ally in the flying monkey that brought her into the castle, as he can talk and communicate with the other monkeys. They use the monkeys to contact West and get instructions on how to fly the castle. It isn't easy, but West eventually helps Dorothy control things and land the castle in Betsy Bobbin Park (!). So now our gang, with new member the Scarecrow, have a new mission: Find Glinda!

Lots of neat little Oz Easter eggs to look out for, like Ugu Shoes and Button-Bright Toothpaste. I also noticed in the credits that Michael Patrick Hearn, noted Baum scholar and author of The Annotated Wizard of Oz, is a consultant on the show, so it is definitely in good hands.

And if you're interested in other reviews of the show (warning, they've binged the whole thing, and so there may be a few mild spoilers for stuff I haven't talked about yet), here's one from Toonzone (he seems to like West as much as I do), and here's one from Jay Davis at the Royal Blof of Oz.

Oz in Jeopardy!

The rest of the spring was still pretty slow, until the June 14, 2017 game. The second clue revealed in the game was this one, for $200 in the Jeopardy! round category Classic Children's Books:

Phil, the challenger on the right, signaled first and correctly responded with, "What is a heart?" And he went on to win the game handily.

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Oz in Jeopardy!

It was a very quiet spring for Oz clues on Jeopardy! We had a couple of good ones in March, but then in April all we had was that clue about Australia, and then this was the only Ozzy bit at all in May. It was a category in the Double Jeopardy! round on the May 10, 2017 game:

Unfortunately, it wasn't about Dorothy Gale, but other famous people, real and fictional, named Dorothy and their friends. So, yeah, not that Ozzy at all, was it?

Lost in Oz, Chapter 3: Monkeys Fly

One fun little item I forgot to mention from the first episode is that it opens with Dorothy creating a Rube Goldberg-style contraption to get her day started. Of course, she spends so much time on it that she ends up missing the bus and, as a result, finding her mother's journal, thus kicking off the whole series. Well, in this episode Dorothy puts her mechanical smarts to good use and figures out how to get the Lookout's tower to move, and thus causing Glinda's castle to appear. (No, really, it all makes sense within the context of the show, but even Reigh has trouble following and believing it until Dorothy proves it.) The gang gets a really cool, multi-wheeled Ferris wheel going, and Dorothy uses its height to get closer to the palace. But Fitz escapes his portal loop and comes after her with two of the monkeys. Dorothy figures out how he's controlling them, however, and uses that to her advantage. One of the monkeys gets her into Glinda's castle just before it disappears again, where she meets the Scarecrow. "Good to see you again," he says. Wait, AGAIN? And then the episode ends on that cliffhanger!

Dorothy really gets to show off her smarts and problem-solving skills in this one. She figures out just how to use some of the magic Ojo and West give her, but also the mechanics of how the Ferris wheel works and how it causes the palace to appear. I was reminded of how Coo-Ee-Oh used Krumbic magic to power her machinery in Glinda of Oz. We also get a flashback to when Dorothy was a very little girl and her mother showed her a lunar eclipse. And, in the course of exploring the city, we also get mentions of Utensia, the First and Foremost of the Phanfasms, and the Growleywogs, so the makers of this show really do know the books, even if they're using them in a totally different way.

And in our next episode, the Scarecrow!

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Lost in Oz, Chapter 2: Dorothy Meets a Lion

Dorothy, Toto, West, and Ojo are still trying to meet Glinda, but all kinds of obstacles keep getting thrown in there way. Fitz, our magic thief, decides they know too much, so he sicks the Winged Monkeys up against them with water balloons of oblivion, which make anyone hit by them forget everything. But during the battle, an invisible lion steals Dorothy's backpack and disappears underground into the Night Market. This is apparently not a good place, but Dorothy is, naturally, determined. Lots of merry chasing happens, including some great stuff with portable portals, before they finally catch up with the lion, Reigh. It turns out he's a tech whiz and a conspiracy nut, who tells them that nobody has seen Glinda in months. So, he joins the group as they all prepare to look for Glinda.

Some more nice Ozzy touches in this one, such as the water of oblivion (and a couple of amusing incidents when we see it in action), and one of West and Ojo's classmates is mentioned, but Tip disappeared when he went into the Night Market. Reigh is a fun character, with just enough of the Cowardly Lion in him to be recognizable, but he fits in well with this updated version of Oz, too. Bring on the next episode!