Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Oz Kids - Reading

Okay, as anyone who's been following my blog knows, I've been recording Oz VHS tapes to DVD for my personal collection.

Let me re-state the legal stuff here:
This IS legal if you own the VHS tape and make the DVD copy yourself, and if you keep both the DVD copy and the original tape. Selling the DVD copy is not legal, unless you got a license from the copyright owner. (A sold, unauthorized copy of a copyrighted work is called a "bootleg." Despite it being illegal, several people get away with it.)

Among the titles I've bought to convert to DVD, are the OZ KIDS series. This series was created and written by Oz fan and collector Willard Carroll, and was animated by the folks at Hyperion Studios, famous for "The Brave Little Toaster." The series was released, in the U.S., onto nine video cassettes. The series follows the adventures of the children of the original Oz characters: Dorothy's daughter Dot and her son Ned, the Scarecrow's son Scarecrow Jr., the Tin Woodman's son Tin Boy, the Cowardly Lion's fraternal twins Boris and Bela, the Wizard's son Frank, Glinda's daughter Andrea (though her outfit makes her look a lot like Ozma), Jack Pumpkinhead's son Jack, and Toto 2. Also among the recurring characters are the Nome King's son Otto, and Rick, a new resident of Oz.

Many of the plots are original, but a good portion are inspired by stories by Baum. The original stories usually use subplots based on events in Baum's books, though they are often altered.

I was fortunate to come across some DVD cases that hold four discs in each, but is the same size and shape as the standard 1-disc case. Two of these were just perfect for the DVDs I'm recording from this series.

Wait, you ask, that's only eight, but there's nine in the series. What gives?

Here the discs and their contents...

1. Toto Lost In New York (Mainly an original story, but near the end, it borrows from "The Scarecrow of Oz" and the spider scene from "Glinda of Oz.")

2. The Nome Prince & The Magic Belt (Mainly based on "Ozma of Oz," but also uses plots from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," "The Patchwork Girl of Oz," and "The Marvelous Land of Oz."

3. Virtual Oz (Completely original. The copy I wound up with was a promotional copy, and was NOT TO BE SOLD, but it seems it was anyways. It's also copy-protected and has a copyright notice on the lower half of the screen throughout half of the program.)

4. Who Stole Santa? (Based on "The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus," and borrows from "Ozma of Oz" and "A Kidnapped Santa Claus.")
The Making of the Oz Kids (A behind-the-scenes featurette.)
Christmas in Oz (Mostly original, but borrows from "The Road to Oz.")
(Yes, all three are on one disc.)

5. Underground Adventure (Don't have it yet, so I can't say, but it does seem to borrow from "Dorothy & The Wizard in Oz" and "The Lost Princess of Oz.")

6. The Monkey Prince (Mostly an original story, but does use a bit from "The Marvelous Land of Oz.")

7. The Return of Mombi (Original story, but is largely inspired by "The Marvelous Land of Oz" and "The Emerald City of Oz." Borrows from "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz," "The Patchwork Girl of Oz," and "Ozma of Oz," "The Lost Princess of Oz," or "The Magic of Oz.")

8. Journey Beneath The Sea (An adaptation of "The Sea Fairies," except that Trot & Cap'n Bill are replaced by Rick, Dot, Ned, Bela, Boris, and Toto 2. Trot's mom is replaced by Scarecrow Jr., Tin Boy, Frank, & Jack, as they were in a seperate boat and the Mermaid Queen sends them to sleep. There are other changes as well.)

When I first heard of this series, I rolled my eyes. It sounded as if (excuse me) whoever came up with it was on some kind of drug. I'm delighted to report I was mistaken. Willard Carroll indeed had true inspiration to bring the Oz series up-to-date here, unlike what's been offered in recent years. ("Lost in Oz," "The Muppets Wizard of Oz," etc.)

In best Baumian fashion, here are kids who are kids, but they can be depended upon in the worst situations. (If only their parents knew...) Just like the original Dorothy in her original adventures, Dot is quick-thinking but always sensible and can often come up with solutions to problems when no one else can. Ned is a charming little brother for Dot, though he seems to only add to her character: mostly she's protecting him as well as the other Kids.

Scarecrow Jr. is just like his famous father after he got his brains: trying to come up with all the answers. Tin Boy isn't so warm-hearted as his father, but can always be depended on to do the right thing. Bela is far from cowardly, while Boris is, but tries to be brave and often succeeds. Bela, like Dot, also looks out for her little brother, although she's only older by twelve seconds.

Frank, like his father, is always inventive, ready to try anything new. Andrea, on the other hand, relies on her magic more often than her brains, but when she can't resort to her wand, she puts her mind to work. Jack really seems to be undeveloped. He seems to be put in there just in case they'd need another character. Rick, on the other hand, is a great older, male adult character in the mold of the Shaggy Man and Cap'n Bill. He's devoted to the Kids, and they are to him. If the Kids are in danger, Rick will come up with a solution.

Otto is one of the best new characters. Although he wants to follow in his father's (Roquat?) footsteps, what he really wants is a friend. In fact, in the four episodes I've seen him in, when viewed in a specific order (Nome Prince & Magic Belt/Virtual Oz/Christmas in Oz/Return of Mombi), you can see his character develop from a trickster whose favorite word is "mischief" to being on a level with the other Kids. Whenever he grows up in this alternate Oz, the nomes will have a good ruler!

Want a good Oz video series for the kids? I'd definitely reccomend this series. (Now if only Paramount would put it back in print!)

Now, I'm also looking forward to reading some Oz books. I've finally tired of reading Spider-Man comics on that DVD-ROM. (Yes, those are real things! And authorized!) So, I'm looking forward to my copy of Queen Ann In Oz, which will hopefully come soon (it may be in the mailbox now! Need to check!), and I've also downloaded some Oz books by March Laumer from , check it out!

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