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Television Adaptations

There haven't been very many Alice adaptations for television (although several of the film versions were "made-for-tv movies"), probably because some of the special effects were too complicated or expensive for television producers until the 90s. Although few in number there are some notable adaptations. Like the film versions, the television versions of Alice range from the childish and even (ironically) didactic to the dark and edgy. In my opinion, Sesame Street's Abby in Wonderland might be the best version, for even though plainly somewhat didactic, the muppets are admirably nonsensical and outrageous in a Carrollian tradition (if not quite as rude as Carroll's characters).


"Adventures in Wonderland" (Disney, 1991-1995)

Adventures in Wonderland (1991) PosterAdventures in Wonderland was a live-action television show produced by Disney channel which ran from 1991-1995. It featured a pre-teen Alice whose magical mirror allowed her to visit Wonderland at will and spend time with her Wonderland friends. According to Wikipedia, “Usually the format consisted of Alice coming home from school and talking to Dinah (her cat) about a problem facing her that day, then going into Wonderland and finding the residents of that world facing a similar crisis. At the end of each episode she would return to the real world with a solution to her problem.”  The program featured characters from Wonderland  and from Looking Glass, although in this version all of the characters are cheerful and helpful friends of Alice’s, not the enigmatic, rude and sometimes violent creatures of Carroll’s version.


Opening Sequence


Clip from episode, "Copy Catter Hatter"


"Alice" (Syfy, 2009)

Alice (Syfy) Series PosterA year before Tim Burton’s “grown-up” Alice in Wonderland, there was Alice, a mini-series on Syfy based on Carroll’s novel, but again reimagining it, this time in the twenty-first century.  In this version, Alice is a twenty-something judo instructor who falls into a futuristic Wonderland ruled by a despotic Queen of Hearts (an amalgum of the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen from Through the Looking Glass).  Alice gets caught up in the resistance movement and eventually helps restore order to Wonderland.  Directed by Nick Willing (who also directed the 1999 Alice in Wonderland), Alice was the most watched original mini-series on Syfy since Tin Man in 2007, a retelling of the Wizard of Oz, also directed by Willing.  This version contains many elements of Wonderland and of Through the Looking Glass, with the Mad Hatter taking a prominent role.  Although this version gets pretty far away from Carroll’s original, many of the special effects are stunning and many critics found this adaptation a fresh look at Alice. TV.com called it "a champion of production that fuses modern invention and nostalgic resourcefulness.” (Wikipedia)




Click here to see the "Mad Tea Party" scene


Abby in Wonderland posterAbby in Wonderland (2008)

Although not strictly an Alice television series, I thought you might enjoy this clip from Abby in Wonderland, a direct-to-DVD Sesame Street production, following Abby, the Alice character, as she meets various Sesame Street muppets in a magical land. 




A Mad "T" Party


The Cheshire Cookie Monster


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