While Tim Burton’s upcoming opus has probably nailed the distinction of being the most hyped of Lewis-Carroll-spawned re-imaginings, Syfy’s entry is surely in the running for being one of the most modern and intriguing adaptations so far. In this particular telling, relationship woes (as experienced by the titular twenty-something lass) play out against a backdrop of human trafficking, drug addiction, political insurgents, and more. This is a fantasy with some serious street cred.
As described by Syfy’s TCA plot synopsis, Alice (Caterina Scorsone) is a “young martial arts instructor with commitment issues.” After hastily rejecting her boyfriend’s marriage proposal – which comes complete with a mysterious heirloom of a ring – Alice then feels a little badly about shooting him down. (Hopefully her rejection was delivered without Ralph Macchio’s wax on/wax off technique.) Finding that her spawned suitor has deposited the ring in her pocket, she pursues her paramour, only to witness his abduction by some impeccably-tailored hoodlums. The plot thickens, and so do the ramifications for our heroine, who follows her man through the looking glass in an effort to rescue him.
Who are the thugs in dapper duds? Thus far there are indications that these “Suits” either are under the employ of an organization called The White Rabbit, or else they answer to a character called the White Rabbit. The 10 of Clubs (as played by Zak Santiago) is one such henchman within this army, and this squadron of debonair dudes has been dispatched to kidnap people (otherwise known as “Oysters”) from our world, and, via a looking-glass portal, squire them away to an alternate reality. As far as kidnap situations go, it’s not THE most dire one possible. The victims are set up in a casino where – yay! – everyone’s a winner! And like the real world Vegas counterparts, these casinos make it a point to not mark the exits. At all. But it’s OK – the slack-jawed blackjackers are having such a good time, they hardly notice they’re being drained of their fun-time emotions like euphoria, bliss and lust. Hey, people are sheep, right?
So who’s the shepherdess in this scenario? That would be the the Queen of Hearts (Kathy Bates), who, when not playing casino mogul, is otherwise lording it over the citizens of the alternate universe known as Wonderland. She’s found a way to bottle the happy vibes of those docile dinglebats at the slots, and she’s dispatching the oh-so-addictive mojo to her peeps. Having all that instant gratification on tap keeps the Wonderland folk distracted and glassy-eyed – which, as any dictator worth his or her salt will tell you, is soooo much easier than governing people who ask questions like, “What are those militia-looking guys standing over there for?” or “Is this what my tax dollars are paying for?” Incidentally, the Queen really, really covets Alice’s engagement ring, and this isn’t merely a girlie, shiny-jewelry-is-pretty fixation.
Ah, but what’s a political stranglehold without some scrappy resistance fighters to protest it? Especially as led by Tim Freakin’ Curry?! Curry plays Dodo – an inauspicious name for a rebel leader, but given Curry’s otherwise majestic ability to command the screen, he can probably pull it off with little damage to his credibility. Also on Team Alice is The Hatter (Primeval’s Andrew Lee-Potts), a resistance fighter of the street-wise, fast-talking variety, who’s apparently not sooooo crazy as to warrant the adjective “Mad” in front of his character’s nickname. Less lucky in the lucidity department is the White Knight (Matt Frewer), who has been described as “mad as a box of frogs,” and finds himself “wandering about and looking for a fight.”
Cue the ninja-skilled Alice and that motley crew of resistance fighters!
With such a formidable cast and an interesting interpretation of the Carroll-inspired chronicles, this is looking more and more like a must-watch.
‘Alice’ is slated to air December 6th and 7th at 9/8 c on Syfy.