Tin Man

SCI FI Channel Photo/ Carole Segal

Sweeps may be over, but some of the most entertaining TV you'll see all year is yet to come. Sci Fi continues its winter miniseries tradition this Sunday with the first of three nights of Tin Man, a reimagining of The Wizard of Oz that mixes up your space operas with your family melodramas and ends up creating a whimsical, wonderful, mythological adventure.

What's that, you say? You've already seen The Wizard of Oz? Not like this, you haven't! Here's what's different—and fabulous—about this take on the old tale.

Tin Man

SCI FI Channel Photo/ Alan Markfield

Noir-othy:  Imagine dropping Veronica Mars into the land of Oz (here known as the O.Z., or Outer Zone), and you'll get a sense of how drastically Zooey Deschanel's girl from over the rainbow differs from Judy Garland's. Even though she's just a regular girl from the Plains, Zooey's DG hardly bats an eyelash at the strange turn of events that deposit her in the O.Z. She handles the situation with great aplomb and a dry, deadpan humor that's miles from Garland's peppy astonishment. This girl's voice drops down a register as she wryly tells the Munchkin types, "You're out of your tiny minds." Cocreator Craig Van Sickle says, "When Zooey wanted to do it, we were thrilled, because she brings such a great, totally different energy, and a whole other audience, to the part."

Raoul Trujillo, Tin Man

Carole Segal/Sci Fi Channel

Backstory:  This O.Z. acknowledges the stories of the past but does not depend on them. Instead, according to cocreator Steven Long Mitchell, "We tried to take some of those lines from the icons in the movies and the books so the audience at home can play the game of 'Oh, that's what that means.' " However, lions and tigers and, oh look, a bear, "oh my!" are not just played as coy winks to the audience. Despite the fact that this sci-fi miniseries is full of space lasers and holograms and bottled brains, as the story progresses, you'll see our cultural history with The Wizard of Oz has everything to do with the actual history of the O.Z. (Hint: The wicked sorceress Azkadellia is not what she at first seems to be.)

Kathleen Robertson, Tin Man

Carole Segal/Sci Fi Channel

Let's Talk About the Hot:  All due respect to 1939, but the O.Z. has never looked this good. In addition to the beautiful production design, the CGI majesty of the Central City and the gorgeous flying-monkeys effects work, the characters this time around are just, let me tell you, damn fine. Kathleen Robertson's Azkadellia manages to be exquisitely beautiful without sacrificing any of the terrifying that Margaret Hamilton pulled off so well. Think Darth Vader in an S&M corset. Seriously—keep an eye on her cleavage, because this miniseries has some majorly good boob acting. And Neal McDonough, aka the world's hottest albino, gives the Tin Man an unexpected Indiana Jones-style sex appeal. (As evidenced by the seven-foot-tall poster of Neal that Jen stole from the Tin Man premiere party. Don't tell Sci Fi. Or her husband.)

Neal McDonough, Tin Man

Art Streiber/Sci Fi Channel

That Old Black Magic:  Like its predecessors in the cinematic land of Oz, Tin Man is eminently family friendly, but with all these incredibly good-looking people running around, sparks do fly. There's no nooky to speak of, but is that a little chemistry I see between DG and the Tin Man? Says Van Sickle, "There is something there...We really tried to keep it subtle, because we went back and forth on the question of chemistry. But it is there. We would love to do a series, because it is all there." (Yes, yes, please do a series!)

Alan Cumming, Tin Man

James Dittiger/Sci Fi Channel

The Gang's All Here:  You'll meet Alan Cumming's Glitch, who could really use a brain, and Raoul Trujillo's Raw, who is furry and gets scared sometimes, and Neal McDonough's ex-cop Wyatt Cain, who wishes he didn't have a heart. But they turn out to be so much more than the sum of their missing parts. This series gives the lessons of the past their due, but it also has a great deal more to say...

Tune in to Tin Man Sunday at 9 p.m. on Sci Fi, see what you think (we admit, the first 20 minutes are a little slow, but give it time, please!). Then come by the Chat on Monday for more tips on what else is coming down that yellow brick road.

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