Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Tik-Tok of Oz

Not only did Oz return to books in 1913, it also returned to the stage in the form of a play called The Tik-Tok Man of Oz. The play was the culmination of a stage adaptation of Ozma of Oz Baum had been working on, however, a few problems arose in the legal department: Dorothy, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Lion, in stage form, were now part of the property of The Wizard of Oz extravaganza, while Ozma was tied up with The Woggle-Bug. So, instead of Dorothy, Baum replaced her with Betsy Bobbin. Similar to how the stage Wizard replaced Toto with a cow named Imogene, Billina was replaced with a mule named Hank. Tik-Tok could remain, and to join him as a comedic duo, in came the Shaggy Man, though some advertising I've seen for the play calls him "The Raggedy Man." Ozma was replaced with a more comedic character, Queen Ann. Polychrome came into the story as well, and the Nome King remained as the villain.

So, when Baum was working on the Oz book for 1914, he decided that the play had wandered a bit from its original basis, and, with a few more alterations, could make its own story. As such, some regard Tik-Tok of Oz as a novelization of the play, and compare it unfavorably to Ozma of Oz. This would be the first of three Oz books that some Oz fans consider to be "lazy" writing on Baum's part, though there were reasons why he might not have put so much thought into these.

The book opens in Oogaboo, a little country in the northwest of Oz, ruled by the discontent Queen Ann Soforth. She has grown bored with ruling such a small country, and, at a sarcastic suggestion from her sister Salye, decides to conquer the world. Quickly gathering an army of most of the men of Oogaboo (almost completely officers, save one private, very much like Ozma's army), Ann heads out to conquer Oz first.

However, Glinda notices this in her Book of Records and quietly sends them outside of Oz. In the place they arrive at first, they are attacked by a monster called a Rak, which they manage to evade, but still suffer some bruises.

... This is one reason why I don't trust Glinda. Any sign of trouble, she acts on her own, for what could be seen as protecting her own interests. Why not re-arrange the mountain pass of Oogaboo so they'd go around in circles until they give up and go home? Why put them in harm's way? Hmmmmm? Something's not right in the South...
Speaking of which, it is here that Baum accidentally has Glinda's castle placed 'far North of the Emerald City'.

Meanwhile, Betsy Bobbin, and her mule Hank are the sole survivors of a shipwreck, and using some debris from the ship, they float ashore, where they find a country of live flowers, who want them put to death. (Ala the Mangaboos?) But then, the Shaggy Man drops in (seriously, he breaks through the roof of a greenhouse), and using the Love Magnet, manages to get the gardener to let them escape, but not before trying to give the flowers a new ruler, so Shaggy and Betsy pick the Rose Princess. (Shades of Dorothy & The Wizard in Oz!) However, those anti-feminist roses reject a female ruler and the Rose Princess, Ozga (somehow Ozma's cousin), leaves with Shaggy, Betsy, and Hank.

Shaggy reveals he is looking for his brother, who was working in a mine in Colorado, when he disappeared, Shaggy assuming, he was kidnapped by the Nome King, who now goes by Ruggedo. (Baum explains that due to Roquat's drinking the Water of Oblivion in The Emerald City of Oz, he forgot his name, though Ozma did tell him his name there. I guess he didn't like it anymore.)

I posted elsewhere about my theory of Shaggy's relationship with his brother, but as it is relevant, I'll quote myself here:
It is possible Shaggy and his brother lived together in Colorado for awhile, but at some point, they decided to part ways. Shaggy says in The Road to Oz that he does not care for money, but only for love. As Shaggy's brother became a miner (hmm... does that mean he was his younger brother?), Shaggy may have been repulsed at the quest for money and decided to leave. Still, they are brothers, so when he discovered what happened to his brother, Shaggy knew it was his duty to rescue him.
Next, they find Polychrome, who has just slid off the rainbow. What has always puzzled me is that Polychrome acts like she has never seen the Shaggy Man before. It's been explained that Baum lifted the scene in this book directly from The Tik-Tok Man of Oz to preserve a joke from the play, but still, in the continuity of the characters, it makes no sense.

Then, in a well, they find a lot of rubbish, and Tik-Tok, who Ozma sent to assist the Shaggy Man. Ruggedo found him and threw him in the well. (Did he forget his lesson from that Little Wizard Story?) After this, they are joined by the Army of Oogaboo, and Private Files falls in love with Ozga immediately. He resigns, but his post is given to Tik-Tok. When Ann hears of Shaggy's search, she decides to make the Nome King her first big conquest. The entire company continues on.

Now Ruggedo happens to made aware of the oncoming Army, by means of his chamberlain Kaliko's spyglass, and his servant, the Long-Eared Hearer. At first, Ruggedo sends the Army bouncing through his rubber country, but they make it through. So, he sends them falling through the Hollow Tube that goes through the earth, something Kaliko warned him Tititi-Hoochoo forbade him from doing.

... Did anyone else think of Mombi's illusions from The Marvelous Land of Oz there?

The whole company slides through the Tube and after a long tumble, pops out on the other side of the world, where they find a different country, very elegant and regal, where everyone seems to be a King or Queen. The leader of the country is Private Citizen, who Tik-Tok discovers is Tititi-Hoochoo, the Great Jinjin, and they are among the Famous Fellowship Of Fairies. While it is against the law to go into or drop anything in the Tube, the Great Jinjin sees that they did not intend to enter the Tube, so only the one who sent them into it should be punished.

The next morning, after Betsy spent a lovely night with Erma, the Lady of Light (in one of the most dream-like chapters Baum ever wrote), Tititi-Hoochoo has selected his "instrument of vengeance," Quox, a young, blue dragon who had been disrespectful to his grandfather. Giving Quox seats on his back, the company is able to ride him back down the Tube.

What kind of disappoints me here is that it seems there is an ultimate authority above all the fairies in Baum's Oz-connected world, but we only get a small glimpse at them. Baum never returned to the Famous Fellowship Of Fairies, or the Great Jinjin, and from what I've heard of the rest of the Famous Forty, they were not revisited in those books, either. I believe I did hear some other authors did use the characters, though.

The Long-Eared Hearer hears the return of Queen Ann and her friends in the Tube, and Kaliko sees Quox. The Nome King gathers his Army, but when he emerges, Quox is able to send them all running. Queen Ann thinks she will be able to conquer Ruggedo on her own, but she and her officers get caught in a hole and get sealed off. Tik-Tok, Betsy, Hank, Polychrome, Shaggy, Ozga, and Files confront the Nome King. Betsy and Hank are ordered to be thrown into the Slimy Cave, but Kaliko proves to be kind and takes them to his own room. Tik-Tok is knocked over and immobilized with a hefty diamond, while Ruggedo turns Shaggy into a gray dove, and turns Ozga into a fiddle.

Polychrome gets Quox, who lets out a few eggs to chase off Ruggedo, while Ruggedo's glance at the ribbon on Quox's neck removes his knowledge of magic. Thus, Ruggedo is banished from his own kingdom, and Quox, under Tititi-Hoochoo's orders, makes Kaliko the new Nome King. Shaggy and Ozga are restored to their true forms, Tik-Tok is freed from the diamond, and they try to find Queen Ann and Shaggy's brother, while Quox returns home.

Yes, we had unfair treatment by the Nome King and people getting transformed, but really, this is quite different from Ozma of Oz!

Polychrome spies Ruggedo getting a lot of pockets sewn onto his coat by an old woman, then he sneaks into a secret passage. When she tells Kaliko of this, he is sure Ruggedo is heading to the Metal Forest, where Shaggy's brother has been staying.

In the Metal Forest, they find a bedraggled Queen Ann and her officers, Ruggedo filling his pockets with gold and gems, and Shaggy's brother, who had been transformed to become ugly. Ruggedo tries to remember the charm to break the spell, and Betsy, Ozga, and Polychrome try breaking the spell by kissing him, Polly's kiss restoring him.

Ruggedo's pockets burst, and he breaks down at last. Kaliko offers to let him stay in the Nome Kingdom, as long as he behaves himself.

And now for the wrapping up of the story...

Ozma has been watching Shaggy's progress in the Magic Picture, and now that Queen Ann has lost her desire to conquer the world, she and her officers, as well as Files and Ozga, are returned to Oogaboo. Tik-Tok is brought back home, but Ozma is not sure if she should let Shaggy's brother, Betsy, and Hank into Oz, saying that Oz is not a refuge for everyone. However, Dorothy convinces her to keep Shaggy by also bringing his brother, and that she'd like to become friends with Betsy, so she can have another friend to play with when Ozma is attending to her duties. (It is also in this scene that Ozma and Shaggy communicate with devices resembling cell phones.)

I always wondered why Ozma was so hesitant to bring a couple more people to Oz, especially considering how its not even an issue in the next book.

In the final chapter, it is revealed that in Oz, Hank can talk, and so can Toto. Hank, the Cowardly Lion, and the Sawhorse argue over the sweetest girl in the world, Ozma, Betsy, or Dorothy, but the three are reprimanded by Ozma, who tells them that they are not rivals. Shaggy's brother is grateful to Ozma, and Betsy wishes every child could live in Oz, but Ozma tells her that if that happened, Oz would become overrun. Betsy sees her point.

...Bit of an odd note to close the book with.

Really, despite the obvious origins in previous Oz books, I do think Baum managed to make Tik-Tok of Oz its own story, if nothing else, for the addition of the mysterious Famous Fellowship Of Fairies to his fantasy world. Also, we have a variety of new, if later unused, characters added, and a major turn in the future of the Nome Kingdom. While Betsy feels almost like a copy of Dorothy, she did manage to become her own character. As you can see, she's a little more practical than Dorothy. While Dorothy would be indignant if she had been in Betsy's place in this story, Betsy keeps her cool and talks around it.

Now, why did Baum not come up with a completely new story? At this time, not only had he been developing The Tik-Tok Man of Oz for the stage, but The Oz Film Manufacturing Company was forming, and that also ate into his time. In a year or so, his health also took a bad turn, and he had to have his gallbladder removed.

So, next, we have another "novelization" that may not have originally been intended to be one.

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