Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz: An Under the Radar Hit
By: Steve Zec
It’s funny how sometimes you can find a great show by accident. Around Thanksgiving I was curious about a show on the Boomerang streaming service: the 2017 reboot of Wacky Races. I was a fan of the original and wanted to check it out. It was okay, but while there I saw a link for another show, and just out of pure boredom, I checked it out. The show was Dorthy and the Wizard of Oz and I just fell in love with it. A lot of it had to do with one particular character and I will talk more about her later. But this is an under the radar show that is great and I really love it.
The series Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz is a 2017 animated series that was originally supposed to air on Cartoon Network, but got pushed down to the Boomerang streaming site. It has never aired on U.S. television, I’m sad to say. The show takes place after the story of The Wizard of Oz that most of us know, after the Wicked Witch of the West is defeated and Dorothy goes home to Kansas. Only this time Dorothy is back, looking much younger and named princess of Emerald City. Despite the title of the show, Oz is not in this series. It was originally titled “Dorothy Princess of Oz”, and that title would have been more true to what the series is about. But whatever. We do have a character called Queen Ozma who is this wacky character that is seemingly very over-powered. Also we have the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion returning.
But things aren’t all roses and daisies for Dorothy, as the Wicked Witch of the Witch is not quite dead. She is kind of in limbo, it’s hard to explain, but she is forced to rely on her niece Wilhelmina and her monkey sidekicks Frank and Lyman to find a way to get Dorothy magic ruby slippers that have the power to bring her back and take over Emerald City. She promises Wihelmina she will be named a princess once that happens. In addition Dorothy has to deal with the Gnome King and other problems.
Dorothy is voiced by Kari Wahlgreen, one of my favorite voice actresses in the world for a lot of stuff she has done in both Western animation and anime, but you guys would know her as Shannon in Ok! Ko! Let’s Be Heroes and various roles in Gravity Falls. Wihelmina is voiced by the great Jessica DiCicco, who you all may know as Flame Princess in Adventure Time. And you’ve got Steve Blum as the voice of Frank. So it’s top notch cast with some big time players.
The animation is what you’d expect from a Warner Brothers animated show; whether that is good or bad, it is what it is. The writing is nothing groundbreaking but fine, and depends on the episode. The stand out character by far is Wihelmina. Any episode and any scene that focuses on her is just top notch. You can tell the writers really put effort into that character.
What makes Wihelmina such a great character? Well not only is she funny and adorable, but there is a lot of depth to her character. Even though she is the main antagonist, she is not really a villain. She is written like a normal child that wants attention and thinks they are wicked, but not really. She doesn’t have bad intentions like her aunt. Yes she tries to steal the ruby slippers, but I don’t think she thinks things through like what her aunt would do once she has her powers back. And half the episodes she is not even trying to steal the slippers. She has her own agendas, like wanting Toto as her pet, wanting to play at the carnival, wanting be part of Dorothy’s slumber party, or just playing a prank on Halloween.
Not to mention, the relationship between Dorothy and Wihelmina is very complex. Dorothy does not see her as an outright enemy. She intended to invite her to the slumber party and told her she was welcome at the carnival at the beginning as long as she behaved. Whenever Dorothy catches Wihelmina doing something bad she just says “Wihelmina” in this tone like “you little skamp” or “there she goes again with her hijinx.” She is never really angry at Wihelmina like you would expect her to be. I think it is clear that Dorothy does care about her, at least enough that she doesn’t want her to die or get seriously hurt. And Wihelmina in turn deep down has some form of respect and admiration for Dorothy. She even has a nickname for her: “Kansas.”
To a lesser extent, Frank and Lyman are pretty good characters. They care about Wihelmina and she cares about them. There is even an episode in which Wihelmina is cursed and the only way to break the curse is to be nice, which includes having a milk shake with Lyman at the end of the episode. Frank and Lyman are bros and you see the difference between them and the other more mean flying monkeys that work directly under the Wicked Witch of the West.
As you can see, the antagonists are the strength, but what about the protagonists? Dorothy is fine and in a lot of ways is a great main character. Her complex relationship with Wihelmina is what I really like, but outside of that she’s fine. Queen Ozma is also a fine character. She doesn’t get a lot of screen time, but she makes the most of it.
The weakest characters of the show in my opinion are Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion. They are very generic and boring to me. The Scarecrow at least has a love interest, so that does help his character a bit, but not that much. Lion has a subplot being the new king of the forest, but I’m not really felling it. And Tin Man really has nothing interesting going for him. When there is an episode focused on one of these three or even all of them, I’m thinking, where is Wihelmina or even Frank and Lyman to make things interesting? But the three aren’t so bad that they ruin the show.
All of this is why you should check this show out on the Boomerang streaming site for those in the U.S. If you can, subscribe so you will be able to watch this great show. I wish it was on TV, but what are you going to do? As for the future of the show: I hope it gets better. I want to see Wihelmina and the Gnome King in the same episode, I’d like to see Wihelmina get her first crush, and I hope we get a series finale in which the Wicked Witch is freed and and we see what happens, hopefully with a Wihelmina redemption.