Considering how animation-friendly L.Frank Baum’s fantastic Oz universe could be, it’s actually slightly strange that there aren’t more quality cartoons based on the books. In fact, the most prominent adaptations so far have been live-action films, the best known being, of course, The Wizard of Oz of 1939.
This year, Cartoon Network sister channel Boomerang is debuting a Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz animated series, a format that seems well suited for Dorothy’s adventures, which are structured in a fairly episodic manner even in the books. Jeff DeGrandis, one of the series’ producers, has been part of some landmark moments of animation history in his career, having worked on „Animaniacs”, „The Ren and Stimpy Show” and Chuck Jones cartoons. Here, he offers a glimpse into what audiences can expect from Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, the TV show:
On how the Boomerang TV show compares with the classic Judy Garland film:
„All the material that we used to make the brand-new show, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz, is based on the L. Frank Baum novels – in which there are 14 total – along with the 1939 motion picture film, The Wizard of Oz. Parents and kids who watched the film and read the books are going to recognise elements from both within the show.
We wanted to bring L. Frank Baum’s novels to life with this show and introduce new characters, new villains and new lands that he wrote about in his book to our audiences. We’re really proud to say that this show offers audiences the full Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz experience!”
On designing characters for the animated series:
„We looked at the main characters you remember from the classic film and we examined their prominent features that distinguish their looks. So for Dorothy for example, it’s the gingham dress, the pigtails, her dog Toto, the ruby slippers and the white socks. We then stylised these for the animation so when you look at the character she is instantly recognisable as Dorothy.”
On connecting with new audiences:
„The show features great all-new adventures for Dorothy and her friends and we think that viewers will connect with the animation and feel like they are going on a journey with them. The characters all have so much personality and they’re relatable; so, audiences will want to be a part of their world and root for them to succeed on their quests. Each episode is more exciting than the last with unexpected twists and turns that we think audiences will enjoy.”
On the music used in Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz:
„The music in the show is some of the finest music I’ve ever used in my career so far. If you think of your favourite songs from The Wizard of Oz film, such as “We’re off to see the Wizard…” or “We Welcome you to Munchkin Land” or the Wicked Witch theme tune – we use the melody from these classic songs and we string it together and put it into the show. The music really helps bring the show together to give audiences the full Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz experience.”
On working on the series:
„I love how this show makes you think outside the box when you’re planning an episode. In Oz, things are never normal, so you imagine everyday props – like a chair example – when you place it in Oz you need to think how to make it extraordinary. Everything is magical and special and I enjoy bringing these elements to life and telling a story.”
Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz premieres in Europe on 2 October.