|Created by||Nick Willing|
|Written by||Nick Willing|
|Directed by||Nick Willing|
Harry Dean Stanton
|Theme music composer||Ben Mink|
|Country of origin||Canada
|No. of episodes||2|
|Running time||180 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Reunion Pictures
Studio Eight Productions
|Original release||December 6 – December 7, 2009|
Alice is a 2009 television miniseries that was originally broadcast on Canadian cable television channel Showcase and an hour later on American cable television channel Syfy. The miniseries is a reimagining of the classic Lewis Carroll stories Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, taking place about 150 years later with science fiction and additional fantasy elements added. The miniseries was produced by Reunion Pictures Inc., the company that is currently producing Continuum, the acclaimed new television series for Showcase in Canada. Reunion Pictures Inc. also produced Tin Man, for SyFy Television, the highly successful 2007 adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The series is three hours long, split into two parts, which premiered on Sunday, December 6, 2009, and Monday, December 7, 2009, respectively. Writer and director Nick Willing previously directed a 1999 adaptation of the books that followed the story more closely; however, Alice is intended to be a modern interpretation, imagining how Wonderland might have evolved over the last 143 years. The mini-series was partially shot in the Kamloops, B.C., Canada area.
Alice Hamilton is a judo sensei living with her mother Carol. Her father disappeared when she was ten, and she has spent much of her life looking for him. She invites her new boyfriend Jack Chase to dinner, but is shocked when he gives her a valuable-looking ring as a gift. Jack abruptly leaves, Alice following only to witness Jack being abducted by several men. A man (the White Rabbit) appears and finds out that Alice is in possession of the ring because he hears the click of the mechanical box that contains the ring opening behind her back. He manages to take the box from her, thinking the ring is still in it, but Alice had already quickly taken it out and resealed the box. The White Rabbit runs away and Alice chases him to find out where they had taken Jack, but falls through a giant looking glass and lands in Wonderland, which has evolved over the past 150 years. The Queen of Hearts rules over Wonderland from the Heart Casino, where people from Alice's world ("Oysters") are taken to, sedated and play games in the casino, their positive emotions drained from them and turned into drug-like substances for the people of Wonderland to digest, keeping them under the Queen's control.
Alice escapes her own capture, with the ring still in her possession. Identified as an "Oyster" by the tattoo she gains, Alice is taken to the Hatter, a member of the resistance seeking to free the Oysters from the Queen's control. The Hatter takes Alice to ask Dodo to help save Jack, but Dodo refuses, until the Hatter reveals the ring Alice wears, which Dodo recognizes as the Stone of Wonderland, able to open the Looking Glass back to the human world. Alice flees when Dodo tries to kill her, the Hatter accompanying her to the forest where they escape a jabberwock and meet Charlie, a surviving White Knight, who fled a battle years ago where Wonderland's knights were wiped out by the Queen. The Queen has the White Rabbit executed, and has the Walrus and Carpenter revive Mad March, her favorite assassin to track Alice.
Alice deliberately allows Mad March to capture her, so she can negotiate with the Queen to free Jack in return for the ring, which Alice has hidden. Jack appears, revealed as the Queen's son and to already be engaged to the Duchess. However, Jack passes Alice her father's watch, implying he is alive and in Wonderland. Alice is put in the Truth Room, where Tweedledum and Tweedledee interrogate her to learn the ring's location, but she is freed by the Hatter and Charlie, the trio escaping back to the forests, whilst Jack also escapes. In hopes of aiding the resistance and returning Alice home, Hatter uses his connections to find someone who can bring them to Caterpillar, leader of the resistance, using the ring as leverage. To their surprise, the agent who arrives is Jack, revealing him as an agent of the resistance who had originally stolen the ring as part of a ploy to initiate a coup to overthrow the queen. Trusting him, Alice retrieves the ring, and accompanies Jack to meet Caterpillar, who reveals that Alice's father is Carpenter, but he has no memory of her. As the Carpenter has been crucial in process for extracting emotions for the Queen, Jack had deliberately approached Alice in hopes that she could help the Carpenter break away from the Queen's control. Just as the Carpenter shows signs of regaining memories, Mad March and his minions arrive, capturing Alice and Jack whilst Caterpillar escapes.
Reunited with her ring, the Queen decides to send Alice home and execute Jack. The Hatter stages a rescue with Charlie but is captured by Mad March after Charlie loses his courage and flees. Charlie, after feeling guilty for deserting the Hatter, uses the skeletons of the extinct White Knights as a distraction to trick the Hearts into believing they are under attack. After being tortured by Dr. Dum and Dee, Hatter kills Mad March and escapes. Alice escapes again, joining up with the Hatter to snap the Oysters out of their sedations and rally them to escape. Carpenter appears, having regained his memories, but is killed by Walrus. The Oysters' unpleasant emotions run high, causing the casino to start collapsing. Alice, the Hatter, Jack, the Duchess and the Queen escape but Winston, the loyal King of Hearts willingly perishes knowing his wife never loved him. With her followers no longer listening to or fearing her, the powerless Queen surrenders the Stone of Wonderland to Alice. Alice returns home, learning her experience may have been a dream when she awakens in hospital to find she had been found unconscious an hour after chasing Jack. However, the next day she discovers the "construction worker" who found her was the Hatter. The two share a passionate kiss in front of a looking glass, as Carol stares in shock.
Cast and characters
- Caterina Scorsone as Alice
- Andrew-Lee Potts as Hatter
- Matt Frewer as Charlie the White Knight
- Kathy Bates as Queen of Hearts
- Philip Winchester as Jack Heart
- Colm Meaney as King of Hearts
- Tim Curry as Dodo
- Harry Dean Stanton as Caterpillar
- Timothy Webber as Robert Hamilton/Carpenter
- Zak Santiago as 10 of Clubs
- Charlotte Sullivan as Duchess
- Alan Gray as the White Rabbit
- Eugene Lipinski as Doctors Dee and Dum
- Nancy Robertson as Dormouse
- Tom Heaton as Duck
- Eileen Barrett as Owl
- Alek Diakun as Rat Catcher
- Dave Ward as Walrus
- Alessandro Juliani as 9 of Clubs
- Teryl Rothery as Carol Hamilton
- Geoff Redknap as Mad March
The mini-series is set in the continuity of the books, and a large number of characters and features from the books are used. The characters appear as human with features resembling their usual forms. The original Alice is mentioned several times, and multiple characters mistake Alice Hamilton for the same character. The Hatter is presented as a suave character who owns a business that sells the human emotions like drugs, with the Dormouse in his services. He is not only depicted to be the same age as Alice but he falls in love with her. The Ratcatcher character appears to be based on the Mouse from the first book. The Dodo is head of the resistance against the Queen, and is flanked by the gun-wielding Duck and Owl. The Caterpillar is the leader of the resistance, and appears as an aging spectacled man. A fusion of the present-day Alice's pet cat Dinah, and the Cheshire Cat appears in a dream Alice has.
The Queen of Hearts appears to be a lot calmer and more calculating than the book's version, suggesting that her personality is based on the Red Queen in Through the Looking Glass. The White Rabbit is used as the name for the Queen's organization, but also the character himself appears as a white-haired man named "Agent White" portrayed by Alan Gray. The March Hare appears as an assassin called Mad March, who speaks with a pronounced Brooklyn accent and has a computerized rabbit cookie jar for a head. The Carpenter is a human in this adaptation, whilst he is a Wonderland resident in the books, alongside The Walrus who is also in a human version. Tweedledum and Tweedledee appear as disturbed psychiatrist-like doctors in the Queen's service. A computer-generated Jabberwock appears in one scene.
Alice was the most watched original mini-series on Syfy since Tin Man in 2007 (which rated the highest in their history). Part One jumped 143% in Adults 18–49, 91% among Adults 25–54 and 89% in total viewers versus the 2009 Sunday 9–11PM (ET/PT) time period average, propelling Syfy to #1 in prime among Men 18–49. Part Two rose +223% in Adults 18–49, +159% among Adults 25–54 and +176% in total viewers versus the 2009 Monday 9–11PM (ET/PT) time period average.
Overall, Alice delivered 1.3 million Adults 18–49, 1.2 million Adults 25–54 and 2.3 million total viewers along with a 1.7 HH rating. Alice boosted Syfy into the #3 cable entertainment network for both Adults 18–49 and Adults 25–54 in its Sunday and Monday 9–11PM (ET/PT) time period.
Reviews of Alice varied greatly, with ratings averaging around a 54, or average, on Metacritic. Paige Wiser of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the show three of five stars, saying that it was "charming, but not perfect." Randee Dawn from The Hollywood Reporter also gave the program a mediocre review, and Nancy deWolf Smith of The Wall Street Journal said that "despite...diversions and whiz-bang special effects, [Alice] drags at times."
Mark A. Perigard of the Boston Herald called Alice "fresh and original," lauding the acting and story. TV.com also praised the show, calling it "a champion of production that fuses modern invention and nostalgic resourcefulness", and David Hinckley of New York Daily News called it "just plain wonderful," saying that it was "a vehicle to engage the imagination while it amuses and entertains."
Steven James Snyder of Techland.com said: "There's no denying that Alice has put it all on the line. And even when it comes to those who may not think that the whole thing gels perfectly, Alice's unhinged creativity is bound to at least earn their respect." Rick Bentley at The Fresno Bee said: "The result will have you smiling like a Cheshire Cat. Willing creates a world that's Minority Report meets Austin Powers. The real fun is seeing how cleverly Willing has updated the familiar story to make it different from past TV and film versions."
However, Tom Shales from the Washington Post gave the program a very negative review, saying that Tin Man was far superior, while IGN said that Alice was "long-winded, uninspiring, and...hardly [did] the original material justice." Robert Bianco from USA Today gave the show an indifferent review, calling it superior to Tin Man but saying the plot was "superimposed...with its shifting motives and dreary lectures," ultimately giving it two and a half stars out of four.
Blu-ray Disc and DVD
Alice was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on March 2, 2010. On some region's DVD releases, the miniseries is presented as a continuous film, instead of in two parts.
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