TV Review: Emerald City


Airs: Fridays on NBC 9/8c

Review: 2-hour Pilot episode

I like clever shows, but sometimes shows can be too clever. Emerald City, a “reimagining” of Wizard of Oz, borders on the latter. I hope this is a limited-run series, rather than a multi-season show, because if they try to extend this show, it will become a white-hot mess that will be nearly indecipherable (think LOST without any direction or cohesion). It may hit that point by episode three anyway.

The most confusing scenes come at the beginning, with a 20-year old Dorothy in Lucas, Kansas. Like why does a town of 393 have a massive hospital? Why is someone trying to kill her seemingly birth “mom?” Why would she need to run as her “mother” says? I imagine at some point they will attempt to answer these questions.

The more clever bits are in Oz. For example:

  • Dorothy runs over the witch in a car, not a house.
  • Toto is a German Shepherd police dog, not a little cairn terrier.
  • The yellow brick road is really opium.
  • The scarecrow is a former wizard guard who Dorothy saves from crucifixion. The problem is that he has lost his memory (thus would need a brain).
  • The flying monkeys are drones with recording devices.

These are just off the top of my head, there are probably more. There are characters from the books (e.g. Ojo, Tip), but I am not familiar with them since I didn’t read the entire series.

I look forward to seeing what twist is next – how are they going to incorporate the Cowardly Lion? The Tin Man? Other positives include Vincent D’Onofrio, who is brilliant as the Wizard (much as he was in Daredevil). The question is, can the show runners keep their focus over a ten-episode arc and give us a satisfying conclusion? It is very easy to get too creative and try to extend your run and not answer anything. The only way they can get a successful second season is to wrap up this story completely then focus on the other (fascinating) characters of Oz.

WWYT Rating: 7.0 (Though if it is multi-season lower this to 4.5)

Nielsen Rating: 1.0 I’ve seen reports that it is cancelled already, but I haven’t seen confirmation yet. It was already delayed a year before it even aired, so it already has a strike against it. It dipped to a 0.8 for its third episode, which makes it an unlikely renewal, 30%.


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