Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return didn’t contain very many references to the larger Oz series, even when they appeared in the source material. The China Country and the field-mice were there, as was a smaller version of the Sawhorse; but Gayelette and Quelala, the Hammer-Heads, Ozma, the dragons from The Tin Woodman of Oz, and the Wizard as a resident of Oz were all omitted. There were, however, some largely hidden references in the characters the Jester had turned into puppets. When watching the film, I noticed that one of the cases was labeled “Grand Bozzywoz of Samandra,” and wondered if anyone important was in the other ones. The movie’s trivia page on the IMDb now contains this information:
“From left to right the name plaques (with the characters’ first year of appearance in parenthesis [sic]) read: His Woodjesty of the Twigs (1922), Bandmaster of Tune Town (1927), Queen Else of Somewhere (1976), General Blotz (1935), Dainty China Princess (1900), Glinda (1900), General Candy Apple (1989), Grand Bozzywood of Samandra (1930), Ferryman of Winkie River (1917), Chief Dipper of Pumperdink (1922), and Baron Belfaygor of Bourne (1929).” Here are some screen captures of the characters:
How these particular individuals were chosen isn’t clear, and almost seems like someone just looked through a list of characters from the books to find ones that sounded interesting or important. Most of them ended up being from Ruth Plumly Thompson’s contributions to the series. Also, the names rarely match up with their appearance in the books, either in illustrations or textual descriptions. The King of the Twigs, never named in Kabumpo in Oz but called “His Woodjesty” in Who’s Who in Oz because it’s how one of his subjects addresses him, is a walking, talking tree.
None of the puppets looks like one of those, and if the IMDb is to be believed, then he’s the cowboy in the yellow hat. The Bandmaster of Tune Town, a rather imposing figure with the name Oompah, here looks to be a dwarf.
Queen Else looks more regal in the movie than in the book, but she’s still the closest so far.
General Blotz is a rather large man in Wishing Horse, an important official to the Queen of the Black Forest.
In the film he looks like a lawn gnome. Based on what we’ve seen so far, I’m going to assume “Bozzywood” was a legitimate typo, not a joke on the Jester’s part. In Yellow Knight, the character’s name is Chinda, and he’s a prophet working for the Sultan of Samandra.
The movie’s version looks a lot like the Munchkin Mayor from the MGM film.
The Ferryman of the Winkie River is presumably the one in Lost Princess who is unable to communicate with animals, but I’m not sure why capturing him would be at all worthwhile.
I don’t believe the Chief Dipper of Pumperdink is ever depicted in the books, but he’s the official in the kingdom who sees to dipping lawbreakers in a well of dye. And I guess Belfaygor having a mustache suggests someone might have at least glanced at Jack Pumpkinhead, but he mostly just looks like another cowboy.
His main feature in the book was a red beard that wouldn’t stop growing, but he lost it before the end.
I had considered that they might look different because they’re puppets, but the picture of their being restored to life has them looking pretty much the same aside from the lack of strings.
Out of the group, the only ones who are actually rulers in canon are the King of the Twigs, Else, and Belfaygor; and their territories appear to be fairly minor. Most of the others are officials in rulers’ courts, with the Ferryman being a loner. I guess it’s possible that the Jester didn’t enchant this particular bunch for their political power, but because they did something to bother him. It’s unlikely we’ll ever really know.
If they’d wanted to hew closer to the books, what characters would have made better choices? Well, that kind of depends on when this is supposed to take place, which is difficult to determine because the film starts in a modern-day Kansas. When King Skamperoo removes the leaders of Oz in Wishing Horse, they include the royal families of the Munchkins and Gillikins, who weren’t appointed until the end of Giant Horse. John R. Neill’s Runaway refers to a state visit from the ten most important Gillikin monarchs, but they’re never identified. There’s some speculation as to who the monarchs might be here.