The Scoop: 2000 NR, directed by David Carson and Herbert Wise and starring Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Scott Cohen, John Larroquette, Dianne Wiest, and Ed O’Neill.
Tagline: Do you believe in magic?
Summary Capsule: New York waitress finds herself and her father spirited away to a Grimm land.
Eunice’s Rating: Then I get night fever, night fever We know how to do it Gimme that night fever, night fever We know how to show it
Eunice’s Review: Virginia is a lonely twenty-something in New York. While she has dreams of opening a restaurant, and someone special to open it with, she’s instead stuck in a dead-end job as a waitress. She takes care of her father Tony, a cowardly regular Joe always looking for the quick and easy way. She allows herself to be oppressed by her maternal grandmother, and has trust issues over being abandoned by her mother when she was a child. Her life changes when she finds a lost golden retriever on her way to work. You see he’s not actually a dog.
In a far away land, a spoiled prince named Wendall visits a prisoner at a high security dungeon. Wendall is actually the grandson of Queen Snow White and the prisoner is his evil stepmother The Queen, who is also the powerful dark witch who killed his mother and father. While there, it turns out it’s a trap and she switches Prince Wendall’s mind with that of a golden retriever so that she can escape and then rule the kingdom through her dog brained puppet prince. He escapes through the dungeon’s corridors and comes across an ancient enchanted traveling mirror. Reflected in the mirror is a, to him, strange city full of lights and skyscrapers. He jumps through the mirror eventually finding Virginia. But the Queen has enlisted the help of fellow inmates Wolf and the the Troll King and his three children, who have all followed Wendall through the mirror.
After some antics in New York it ends with Virginia, her father Tony, Prince Wendall, and Wolf (who has fallen in love with Virginia) going to the fairytale land of the Nine Kingdoms (New York being the tenth) and really beginning their tale.
You know I miss the days of the EPIC MINISERIES. Clocking in at nine episodes (almost seven hours without commercials) 10th Kingdom certainly falls into that category. Our foursome fight trolls, villagers, mad woodsmen, huntsmen, cursed bogs, poisons, and potions. Kidnapping, sword fights, prison escapes, true love! (no pirates though). While they mostly work as a team through all this, the travelers all have to deal with their own problems.
The Prince of course wants to get back his body and beat the Queen, but since he’s a dog no one can understand him, and more frightening he starts losing his human mind. Tony gets tricked into swallowing a magic wishing bean which, as all wishing related things, completely backfires so that even if they find a way back to New York he has no life to return to, and carries some bad luck with him through the journey. He’s also the only one who can understand Prince, unfortunately they don’t really get along. Wolf is head over heels for Virginia but has to worry about hurting her or Tony (he doesn’t care about Prince since there’s anti-wolf laws and Prince isn’t that great of a ruler anyway), either because he’s a wolf and that’s sometimes his nature or because he swore a magic oath of loyalty to the Queen in order to get out of prison.
As for Virginia, she just wants to get Tony and herself home. She doesn’t want anything to do with magic or adventures, and, due to him trying to eat her grandmother, really doesn’t want anything to do with Wolf. But Virginia won’t get what she wants. Eventually a horrible truth begins to make itself known to her: She has to fight the Queen and save all the kingdoms.
The villains are characters in their own right. Dianne Wiest as the Queen is both actively malicious and deceptively sweet manipulative. Rutger Hauer has a smaller but strong role in The Huntsman. Ed O’Neill is a mean and smart (but not smart enough) troll king. But there is something endearing about the king’s children: Blabberwort, Burly, and Blue Bell. These three provide the most comic relief as lovable bumblers who keep trying to outdo each other and end up failing all together – goofy but I, at least, am always amused.
Actual villains aren’t the only people they have to worry about. Between searching for ways back to New York and dodging the Queen the group end up exploring several of The Nine Kingdoms and while the inhabitants of the kingdoms seem completely off their rockers to Tony and Virginia, they have their own fairytale logic. At times it isn’t until they stop over thinking and over analyzing that they are able to take any steps forward.
But it is from 2000. While they’ve dated not always so gracefully in twelve years, the special effects were really top notch for something on TV at the time. The opening credits with ‘Wishing On a Star’ playing as New York changes into a fairytale landscape, complete with a giant stepping over the Brooklyn bridge, catches the imagination right away. Other things like the Singing Pearl are just silly now. And I’m sure some people will find the whimsical nature of the execution of the story and the humor not dark enough to their tastes.
But I’ve always been a fan ever since I saw all the episodes on TV. I’d tell you more about the reasons why I do, but they’re all spoilers, because yes there are some twists and reveals. Just trust me on this, if you like fairytale reimaginings, you’ll like this.
- Virginia/Wolf? Nice.
- The song Tony sings is ‘Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves’ by Cher.
- There was a novelization by “Kathryn Wesley” (actually Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith) that was bundled with the VHS edition and the soundtrack, and lemme tell you, it is really good.
- There were talks of a sequel that would’ve been called House of Wolves that would’ve continued Virginia and Wolf’s storyline and explored more of the kingdoms, but the ratings weren’t strong enough when The 10th Kingdom actually aired (it built up a fanbase after being released on VHS).
Wolf: No, no! “Rare” implies dangerously cooked. When I say rare I mean just let it look at the oven in terror, then bring it out to me.
Repeated: Suck an elf!
Prince Wendell: Happy ever after didn’t last as long as we’d hoped.
Blue Bell: They are called ‘The Brothers Gibb.’
Blabberwort: It is a song that concerns a deadly fever that only strikes on Saturdays.
Virginia: I have a hard time trusting people. I just never wanna jump unless I’m sure somebody’s gonna catch me.
Wolf: Oh, I’ll catch you. And if I miss for any reason, I’ll sit by your bedside and nurse you back to health.
Wolf: Virginia, please forgive me! I-I didn’t mean to be so rude, it’s just that my-my cycle is-is coming on! You see, once a month, I get very irrational and angry and I just wanna pick a fight with anyone who comes near me!
Virginia: That sounds familiar.
Virginia: “For seven men, she gave her life. For one good man, she was his wife. Beneath the ice by Snow White Falls, there lies the fairest of them all.”
Snow White: You’re cold. You’re cold, Virginia. How did you become so cold? You are still lost in the forest. But lonely, lost girls like us can rescue themselves. You are standing on the edge of greatness.
Wolf: I picked up your trail a few days ago.
Virginia: But how? We went through a mountain.
Wolf: Virginia, I could follow your scent across time itself.
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