|Created by||Nick Willing|
|Directed by||Nick Willing|
|Produced by||Michael O'Connor|
|Written by||Nick Willing|
Harry Dean Stanton
|Music by||Ben Mink|
|Editing by||Peter Forslund
|Original run||December 6 – December 7, 2009|
|Running time||180 minutes|
|No. of episodes||2|
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 which 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, steals Alice's ring and runs away, Alice chasing him 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 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, regaining the ring. 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 after he stole the ring from his mother beforehand. Jack approaches Alice, revealing he is a member of the resistance. Trusting him, Alice retrieves the ring, and accompanies Jack to meet Caterpillar, leader of the resistance who reveals that Alice's father is Carpenter, but he has no memory of her. 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 Hamilton
- Kathy Bates as Queen of Hearts
- Andrew-Lee Potts as Hatter/David
- Tim Curry as Dodo
- Colm Meaney as King of Hearts
- Philip Winchester as Jack of Hearts
- Matt Frewer as Charlie the White Knight
- Timothy Webber as Robert Hamilton/Carpenter
- Eugene Lipinski as Doctors Dee and Dum
- Alek Diakun as Ratcatcher
- Harry Dean Stanton as Caterpillar
- Alessandro Juliani as Nine of Clubs
- Zak Santiago as Ten of Clubs
- Charlotte Sullivan as Duchess
- Teryl Rothery as Carol Hamilton
- Nancy Robertson as Dormouse
- Alan Gray as the White Rabbit
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 Adults18-49 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 and DVD
Alice was released on DVD and Blu-ray 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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- Alice at the Internet Movie Database
- Alice at Showcase
- Alice at Syfy
- New Alice Event Features Sci Fi Cast, SFUniverse.com