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The 10th Kingdom is an American fairytale fantasy miniseries written by Simon Moore and produced by Britain's Carnival Films, Germany's Babelsberg Film und Fernsehen, and the USA's Hallmark Entertainment. It depicts the adventures of a young woman and her father after they are transported from New York City, through a magical mirror into a parallel world of fairy tales.

The 10th Kingdom
10th Kingdom DVD.jpg
DVD cover for The 10th Kingdom
Written bySimon Moore
Directed byDavid Carson
Herbert Wise
StarringKimberly Williams
Scott Cohen
Ed O'Neill
John Larroquette
Daniel Lapaine
Dianne Wiest
Ann-Margret
Music byAnne Dudley
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Production
Producer(s)Robert Halmi Sr.
Robert Halmi Jr.
CinematographyChris Howard
Lawrence Jones
Editor(s)Andrew McClelland
Chris Wimble
Running time417 minutes
DistributorHallmark Entertainment
Budget$44,000,000
Release
Original release27 February (2000-02-27) –
26 March 2000 (2000-03-26)

The miniseries was initially broadcast over five nights in two-hour episodes on NBC, beginning February 27, 2000. It won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design in 2000. The premiere had over 14.04 million viewers.[1]

Contents

PlotEdit

In a magical realm, fairy tale characters inhabit nine kingdoms where an Evil Queen plots to rule them. The Evil Queen, the Prince's wicked stepmother, is imprisoned in the Fourth Kingdom, which is under the rule of Prince Wendell, the spoiled, arrogant grandson of Snow White.

Weeks before the Prince's coronation ceremony, the Evil Queen, who communicates through mirrors and mirror-like pools of water, enlists the help of the brutal Troll King and his three grown children to release her before the Prince makes his annual visit to her prison.

At the prison, the Troll King puts everyone to sleep with magic dust and frees the Evil Queen. The Queen uses magic to have Prince Wendell and her Golden Retriever swap forms, so Wendell is now a dog and the Queen's dog now looks like Wendell. In a panic, the transformed Wendell flees through the Prison and stumbles across a traveling mirror in a storage room. Wendell leaps through the mirror and is transported to New York City (the titular Tenth Kingdom). The Troll King orders his children Burly, Blabberwort, and Bluebell (none of whom are very bright), to bring back the escaped Prince, so through the mirror the three trolls go.

As a backup plan, the Queen also half-enchants and releases a half-wolf prisoner (called Wolf) and sends him to retrieve the Prince.

In Manhattan, headstrong waitress Virginia Lewis and her father Tony must deal with the mayhem caused by the new magical arrivals to the city. (Virginia's mother isn't in the picture.)

Seeking Wendell and Virginia, Wolf tracks down Tony. In Tony and Virginia's apartment, Wolf sees Virginia's photo and falls in love with her. Wolf bribes Tony with a magical wishing bean in exchange for Virginia's location. The bean grants Tony six wishes. Tony uses each wish for personal gain; each wish backfires. Tony's second-to-last wish results in him being pursued by the police.

Meanwhile, Virginia figures out that the transformed Wendell--whom she calls 'Prince' before learning his identity--is not a normal dog. It's clear he can understand what she's saying. Pursued by the trolls, Wendell drags Virginia back to the park, leading her to the magical mirror. In the park, they meet up with Tony. Virginia tells Tony about Wendell, and Tony uses his last wish to wish for the ability to understand the dog. The wish is granted, but only he can understand Wendell, not Virginia.

To escape the trolls and the police, they leap through the mirror and travel to The Nine Kingdoms, where they end up in the prison's storage room. Wolf and the trolls follow shortly after and leave the prison before the prison authorities revive from their magical sleep. Virginia and Wendell also escape. Tony isn't so lucky. He's imprisoned. As a prisoner, Tony's forced to toss the magical mirror onto a garbage scow along with a lot of other junk from the prison storage rooms.

The mirror becomes a MacGuffin, as Tony and Virginia (separately at first, then together when they rejoin) try to track it down so they can return to Manhattan. Meanwhile, Wendell tries to get them to help him get his own body back, and the trolls continue to chase the group. Wolf joins the group and does his best to charm Virginia into returning his love.

The group travel the lands in pursuit of the mirror, facing many dangers and challenges in the process, including Virginia's hair being enchanted to an impossible length by angry Roma folk; a conspiracy by the descendants of Little Bo Peep to control a town's wishing well; and many other adventures.

Wolf's love for Virginia breaks the Evil Queen's spell on him; eventually he defies her. His defiance prompts the Evil Queen to send her relentless and cold-blooded Huntsman to track down and kill Wendell, Virginia, and Tony.

In a lover's town, the group finds the mirror for sale at an auction, and earns enough money to buy it. However, Wolf spends that money on an engagement ring and a romantic dinner for Virginia so he can propose to her. She's outraged that he squandered their chance to get back to normal life and rejects Wolf. While in the town, Tony breaks the magic mirror, which makes things even worse because of the seven years of bad luck from breaking a mirror--in the nine kingdoms, that really works. Heartbroken, Wolf parts from the group.

Virginia, Tony, and Wendell find out there are other magic mirrors, possibly another traveling mirror, so they journey to a remote cave complex to find another one. In the cave complex, Tony's bad luck causes him to break many other magic mirrors and to fall into a hole where he breaks his back. While seeking help for him, Virginia meets the ghost of Snow White, who reveals Virginia is destined to save the Nine Kingdoms. She gives Virginia an enchanted hand mirror and grant's Virginia's wish that her father be healed. When Virginia later uses the hand mirror, she and Tony see the Evil Queen, whom Tony recognizes as his long-lost wife and Virginia’s mother. Virginia is shocked.

They travel to the castle to confront the Evil Queen. Wolf betrays Virginia and Tony to the Queen, who has them thrown into the dungeon. In the dungeon, Tony reveals to Virginia that her mother had tried to drown Virginia the night she left. The Queen has her imposter Prince Wendell (who still looks like the Prince) crowned king and then serves food (poisoned by Wolf) to the royal guests. She wants to rule the nine kingdoms, and thinks she's won once all the guests drop.

But Wolf hadn't actually thrown over his loyalty. He switched the poison for a sleeping potion made from the same kind of pink sleeping dust the trolls used in the prison. Virginia confronts the Evil Queen and tries to find any loving kindness in her, but the Queen tries to kill her. Virginia defends herself with the Queen's poisoned comb, and is heartbroken that she had to kill her own mother.

Everyone wakes up unharmed. The real Prince Wendell touches the fake one, and each is restored to their true form.

Wendell, who has matured on his journey, pardons the trolls after the death of their father. Grateful to Tony for all his help, Prince Wendell offers Tony a job at the palace, which he accepts. (Making bouncy castles--Tony's dream job.) Virginia and Wolf return to New York City.

CharactersEdit

  • Kimberly Williams as Virginia Lewis - Virginia is a pretty 21-year-old woman who lives on the edge of Central Park with her father. Virginia, whilst very cynical and tired, is also an aspiring restaurateur, and while she claims that she does not care about her mother or dating, it soon becomes obvious that she feels very lonely. She later reveals that she blames herself for her mother leaving. While at first she cares only about returning to her own world, Virginia eventually commits to helping Wendell rescue his kingdom. Virginia must learn how to face the pain caused when her mother abandoned her. Slowly she develops feelings for Wolf. According to Ron Wertheimer (New York Times), Virginia is a plucky waitress on her way to self-confidence.
  • John Larroquette as Anthony Lewis - Tony is a janitor and single father who is mostly oblivious of his daughter, Virginia's, problems and feelings. In the beginning he is portrayed as selfish, greedy, and cowardly, but by the end of the series he is willing to do anything to save Virginia.
  • Scott Cohen as Wolf - Wolf is released from the Snow White Memorial Prison by the Evil Queen after he swears allegiance to her. He goes to New York City in search of Prince Wendell and meets Virginia, with whom he falls instantly in love. He teams up with Virginia and Tony and spends most of the film trying to decide whose side he is on.
  • Dianne Wiest as Christine White[2] usually referred to as the Evil Queen - The main antagonist of the film and Prince Wendell's stepmother. She had been sentenced to life in prison for murdering both of Wendell's parents and almost killing him. Later in the series she is revealed to be Virginia's mother. Prior to the events in the miniseries, Christine discovered the traveling mirror after running away from a failed attempt to kill Virginia. She was taken in by the Swamp Witch (Snow White's stepmother) and became her apprentice. The plot of the series concerns her plan to take over the Nine Kingdoms. At the start of the show, she is released from prison and turns Wendell into a dog.
  • Daniel Lapaine as Prince Wendell - Snow White's grandson, the spoiled, arrogant, and bored heir to the throne of the 4th kingdom, Prince Wendell spends most of the film as a dog. He can only communicate with Tony, and slowly becomes more humble and responsible. After his adventures and times with Tony, he's left somewhat fascinated by the modern 10th Kingdom (New York City) and insists on Tony building him a "bouncing castle" and thus encourages Tony to give him an industrial revolution.
  • Rutger Hauer as The Huntsman - The Evil Queen's huntsman, who is sent to kill Virginia and Tony, carries a magical crossbow that never fails to hit the heart of a living thing when fired. The Huntsman is completely devoted to the Evil Queen and firmly believes in fate and destiny, holding no interest in mercy.
  • Ed O'Neill as Relish, the Troll King - Relish is the king of the troll kingdom and the father of Burly, Blabberwort, and Bluebell. He temporarily joins forces with the Evil Queen, but later abandons her plans for conquest when he decides to take the 4th Kingdom for himself.
  • Hugh O'Gorman, Dawnn Lewis, and Jeremiah Birkett as Burly, Blabberwort, and Bluebell - Three troll siblings who are released from the Snow White Memorial Prison by their father, who, not long after that, are given a task by the Evil Queen: to hunt down Prince Wendell, then later Virginia and Tony. They spend a large part of the film as golden statues after Tony misuses a magic spell.
  • Camryn Manheim as Snow White - Snow White is mentioned many times and is eventually seen by Virginia and her grandson Prince Wendell (as a dog) in a white cavern in an ice-like coffin. She has been protecting Virginia and shielding her image from the Evil Queen. Upon meeting Virginia, Snow White tells Virginia her (Virginia's) childhood story and tells Virginia that she is destined for many great things. Snow White gives Virginia advice on how to kill the Evil Queen.
  • Ann-Margret as Cinderella - The last living of the fabled princesses of the Nine Kingdoms, now apparently two hundred years old.
  • Moira Lister as Virginia's Grandmother - She despises her son-in-law Tony because he's lower class, but loves Virginia and thinks she needs to marry into high society.
  • Warwick Davis as Acorn, the Dwarf - He helps Tony and the others escape from prison. He later sells various stolen goods, such as the magic mirror. He reappears again while hiding in the swamps in the very house Snow White's evil stepmother had lived. He gives Virginia a brief time to rest when she's searching for her father and even lets her see the Evil Queen's tomb. Afterwards he directs her to where she could find Tony.

ProductionEdit

Simon Moore, writer of the screenplay, wondered about what happened after the Happily Ever After of old fairytales. His vision became The 10th Kingdom.

According to The New York Times "There are humorous allusions to familiar characters like the Seven Dwarfs and Rapunzel throughout the 10 hours and appearances by updated versions of Snow White (Camryn Manheim) and Cinderella (Ann-Margret)." Executive producer Robert Halmi Sr. explains, "We wanted to take the flip side of these well-known characters. For instance, our Cinderella is now 200 years old. And Camryn took her part because she loved the idea that Snow White was now overweight." [3] Camryn Manheim elaborates, "Well, I've been playing her in my bedroom for many years now, so I was ready for her. But it was wonderful, I grew up reading about Snow White and fantasizing about being the fairest of them all, and there I was. My manager told me that NBC had offered me the role of Snow White and I said, 'I'll take it.' I agreed to do it even before reading the script because I was so thrilled that they were moving away from the conventional Snow White. I am playing Snow White, and we've come very far from that image when I grew up and we're getting all kinds of images of beauty. So it was really thrilling to get in that tight corset and be able to accentuate my assets, no pun intended and, yes, it was a throwback to my finer days"[4]The Times reported that Virginia Lewis's portrayer, Kimberly Williams, "prefers to work in film and theatre rather than television. "Because TV happens so fast, I feel a sense of panic," she explains. Yet, despite the misgivings, she could not resist the offer to star in The 10th Kingdom alongside Dianne Wiest, Jimmy Nail and Rutger Hauer. "Simon has woven together all the old fairytales and updated them, exploring what happened after Happily Ever After," explains Williams, whose character Virginia is a New York waitress thrust into a parallel world inhabited by trolls, talking dogs and evil stepmothers.".

Broadcast and receptionEdit

The miniseries was initially broadcast as five 2-hour episodes on NBC, beginning February 27, 2000. The 10th Kingdom won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Main Title Design in 2000.

It was broadcast in the United Kingdom on Sky One.

It received mostly positive reviews and currently holds an audience score of a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. Variety's Laura Fries (Feb. 21, 2000) asserted that "Kimberly Williams is doe-eyed and pretty and is heavily featured throughout, but 10 hours is a lot for this star to carry on her shoulders." Christopher Null Filmcritic.com felt that "Larroquette was an unfortunate casting choice. 30 minutes of Night Court has always been my limit on the guy. 417 minutes is too much of his abrasive attitude to handle."

MerchandiseEdit

During the original airing of The 10th Kingdom there was a toll-free number displayed so that one could order a set of the novelization, the CD soundtrack, and the entire miniseries on three VHS tapes. In May 2000, The 10th Kingdom was released by Hallmark Entertainment and Artisan Entertainment (now Lions Gate Entertainment) on VHS as both a two tape set and as an Extended Play single tape edition. Approximately two hours of the miniseries was cut out to make it fit on two tapes. None of the footage dealt with major plot elements, but the sheer amount removed resulted in a significantly different viewing experience.

The miniseries was later released as aired on a three disc DVD set in October 2000. A two disc set followed in May 2002, which utilized one double sided disc and one single sided disc and included the special feature "The 10th Kingdom: The Making of an Epic", hosted by John Larroquette. The complete 5 episode series was made available for instant streaming on Netflix as of the 3rd week of August 2012. This is the first time the series was presented in individual episode format since the initial broadcast on NBC.

On March 19, 2013, after several years of unavailability, Mill Creek Entertainment reissued the complete miniseries on 3 DVDs, retaining the making-of featurette and presents the miniseries as five separate parts. Also on that date, it was made available on Amazon.

On November 3, 2015, Mill Creek Entertainment released "The 10th Kingdom - 15th Anniversary Special Edition" Blu-ray, marking its first-ever high-definition release.

The novelization, released in February 2000 by Hallmark-Kensington Books, was written by Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith under the name Kathryn Wesley. The novel was based on an early version of the script; however, only a few differences exist between the novel and the film, with most being slight changes in conversations and other minor details. For a number of years it was available in a package with the VHS release of the movie and the soundtrack, but it is now out of print.

Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack album on compact disc, featuring the score by Anne Dudley and the Miriam Stockley cover version of "Wishing on a Star" heard over the opening title and end credits of each episode.

  1. The Four Who Saved the Nine Kingdoms (2:40)
  2. Standing on the Edge of Greatness (1:50)
  3. Six Glorious Wishes (2:03)
  4. Addicted to Magic (2:43)
  5. The House of White (2:44)
  6. Troll Trouble (3:45)
  7. Flowers Only Grow Where There Are Seeds (2:18)
  8. The Dwarves of Magic Mountain (2:32)
  9. Nothing Escapes the Huntsman (2:26)
  10. A Stepmother's Curse (3:04)
  11. The Dog Formerly Known as Prince (1:56)
  12. Blood on the Snow (1:28)
  13. Trolls in New York (1:25)
  14. A Travelling Mirror (1:59)
  15. Kissing Town (2:16)
  16. A Gypsy Incantation (2:21)
  17. These Are Dark Days (3:14)
  18. Seven Years Bad Luck (2:32)
  19. The Days of Happy Ever After Are Gone (2:13)
  20. When the Wild Moon Calls You (2:34)
  21. Still Lost in the Forest (2:57)
  22. Do Not Think, Become (2:19)
  23. Wishing on a Star - Miriam Stockley (1:23)

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Rick Kissel, February 28, 2000, Variety.com The 10th Kingdom Premiere Numbers
  2. ^ Simon Moore, The 10th Kingdom, DVD, directed by David Carson and Herbert Wise, New York: Hallmark Entertainment, 2000. See the special features section on Tony for Christine's maiden name.
  3. ^ Craig Tomashoff, "COVER STORY; Through a Very Different Looking Glass", The New York Times (February 27, 2000)
  4. ^ Ron Wertheimer, "TV WEEKEND; A Fairy Tale for Adults (Watch for Snow White) (February 25, 2000)

External linksEdit