Sunday, August 18, 2019

Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: Escape from the Crystal Ball

When we last left the Wicked Witch's castle, everyone was stuck in her crystal ball. And I mean all the regulars, good and wicked, along wit the newly-returned Wizard, whose loyalties seem to be in some flux. The only way out is if Dorothy uses the ruby slippers—but then the Wicked Witch of the West would also be free! Dorothy surprises everyone by choosing to keep the witch from making trouble and staying in the crystal ball! Then Dorothy wonders how the Witch survived her melting, which leads to a flashback of the events of The Movie, and we see the Witch's spirit (looking something like a sickly green pollywog) possess Lyman and Frank as she tries to get to the Emerald City and acquire the ruby slippers, just as Dorothy is taking off in the balloon with the Wizard. The Witch possesses a cat to lure Toto away, keeping Dorothy in Oz. The Witch finally makes it into the crystal ball before fading away entirely, and just before Wilhelmina returns from witch finishing school. As the flashback ends, the Witch sends Wilhelmina off for the first time to fetch the ruby slippers so the Witch can escape for good. The Witch ten starts crying crocodile tears, trying to convince Dorothy that she's reformed. But she overplays her hand and Dorothy sees right through her intentions. Dorothy decides to use the slippers to get everyone out except the Witch, so everyone (yes, even Wilhelmina, Frank, and Lyman) grabs on, Dorothy clicks her heels, and they're free—with no sign of the Wicked Witch of the West. The Wizard speculates that she's still trapped in the crystal ball, but then he cackles evilly as the episode ends!

Despite this being almost entirely exposition, this episode really books along at a good clip. The flashback is padding, in that the story would work out just fine without it, but just getting the chance to see The Movie with these versions of the characters is a lot of fun. (The Emerald City sure looks a lot like a green version of Munchkinland, however.) Kudos to this episode go to Laraine Newman (yes, that Laraine Newman, one of the original Not Ready for Prime Time Players), channeling her inner Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West. This isn't her first episode as the Witch (nor is the series her first time, having also voiced the role in Tom and Jerry and the Wizard of Oz), but this is probably the most she's had to do the voice in one episode, and she's good at it. She definitely has a lot of the same cadence as Margaret Hamilton did in The Movie, but with a little more sass and humor, more in keeping with the audience this show is aimed at.

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