Tin Man came out in 2007 as a three-part miniseries on SyFy (perhaps it was the SciFi Channel then…I forget). This was only a couple years after The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Zooey Deschanel had done a great job in that film, so I thought this one might be interesting. I also tend to like adaptations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Then life interfered and I didn’t get around to watching the series until now.
As adaptations or inspirations go, this one was only mediocre. While there were a lot of great actors in it, it was plagued by ho-hum music, poor direction, bizarre costume choices, and a weak screenplay. There were a lot of unfulfilled promises from the trailers, too.
The theme song was somewhat interesting, but it was the only piece that had any heart to it. The incidental music used throughout Tin Man was repetitive and unimaginative. It felt amateurish and out of place, like free music grabbed off the internet for a podcast. With $20 million in the budget, surely more attention could have been spent on getting some good musical compositions to use.
The script for the series seemed written and directed by a sheltered teenager. The script probably sounded good on first read, but it needed some serious revision. Instead of creating memorable moments, the dialogue seemed to never get beyond the awkward teenage phase. Which leads us to the direction.
Deschanel is a good actor, as are Richard Dreyfuss, Alan Cumming, and Neal McDonough. They can each easily carry a film or television series. Therefore, the direction from Nick Willing must be the reason for the poor performances in Tin Man. There were moments of almost-greatness scattered throughout, but most of the performances felt stilted and under tight restraint. I could see them occasionally pushing at the envelope, trying to do more with the roles, but then the rest of the performances were phoned in. It was very disappointing.
Then there are the costumes. There were bits and pieces of costuming influence from all sorts of periods. The weirdest were the scientist costumes, which seemed to be reject Spacing Guild costumes from David Lynch‘s Dune. There were costumes from the Old West, bits and pieces from various medieval and Renaissance eras, Victorian bits, and Nazi SS trench coats with steampunk influences. It was as if the costume designer wanted to use every costume they could find. I understand it’s a fantasy world, but there should still be some coherence to things.
Overall, though it tried really hard, Tin Man was a mess. The character motivations were mostly childish, and it left me not really interested in watching it again. I really, really wanted to like it, but it ended up as just a “Meh” to me. I don’t really recommend it unless you have a really compelling reason to watch it. There are better things to do with your time.
Original Air Dates: December 2–4, 2007 (USA)
TV Parental Guidelines Rating: TV-PG
Network: Sci Fi Channel
Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (brief social drinking)
Language: 1 (occasional minor, deity)
Violence: 2 (fisticuffs, electroshocks, non-graphic torture, some death)