Part of following online forums and such related to Oz is that you constantly come across announcements about new television shows and movies being greenlit, the vast majority of them never actually coming out and seeming quite uninteresting anyway. Most are just endless reworkings of The Wizard of Oz, usually the movie, although the creators often claim influence from the book to avoid copyright issues. As Johnny Cochran might have put it if he’d ever been asked to comment on this issue, “If the shoes aren’t red, you can go right ahead.” It looks like some of the TV programs in the works are more of the Let’s Make Oz Dark and Gritty variety, including one in which Dorothy is ruling Oz as a fiendish dictator. Fortunately, the vast majority of these never get off the drawing board, at least as far as audiovisual media go. They show up constantly in comic books, but at least these tend to use characters and ideas from later books. So often all you hear about are either rehashes of Wizard or attempts to spin off from that one story, ignoring that there’s already a Gumpload of spin-offs, including thirteen by the original author. I don’t necessarily object to a more adult-oriented Oz show on principle, but it doesn’t seem like anyone even tries to make a kid-friendly one anymore.
The Oz show that I’ve heard mentioned the most often, however, is a medical soap allegedly “inspired by the characters and themes from The Wizard of Oz.” Because if there’s one thing we need more than another Wizard rehash, it’s another medical-themed TV show. Maybe next we’ll get a cop show based on Alice in Wonderland, if such a thing doesn’t exist already. What would be more interesting to me would be a medical show actually set in Oz. The fact that sickness, or at least serious illness, is pretty much non-existent in Oz means that we don’t hear much about medicine there, but Ruth Plumly Thompson did give us Herby the Medicine Man, who came up with cures for such ailments as anger, inappropriate laughter, yawning, falling asleep, and hunger pangs.
He distributes these pills quite liberally and constantly takes them himself as well, which has made him controversial with modern readers. Then again, you could say Thompson predicted the increased number of prescriptions for mind-altering drugs in modern society. And TV viewers love stories about drug addicts, so why not Herby? He’s certainly more trustworthy than Dr Oz. The only problem might be people mixing him up with the Volkswagen Beetle of the same name (but spelled differently). Failing that, or considering the possibility of being unable to get the necessary permission from the Baum Trust, an Oz medical show could focus on Ku-Klip’s unlicensed surgery operation.