‘Emerald City’ Is a Dark and Edgy Version of ‘The Wizard of Oz’

Emerald City

“Emerald City” premiered on Jan. 6, 2017 on NBC.  The American fantasy television series is based on the “Land of Oz” book series, written by L. Frank Baum. The program was created by Matthew Arnold, who gives viewers a dark, edgy version of “The Wizard of Oz.”

The series was slated for release in 2015, with filming scheduled for 2014, but was canceled due to creative differences between the showrunner Josh Friedman and the studio. In April 2015, NBC decided to go ahead with the series. Tarsem Singh the series director and David Schulner replaced Friedman.

On the show, “Emerald City,” the all-powerful ruler, The Wizard, played by Vincent D’Onofrio, governs over the mystical land where he has outlawed magic and faces the looming wrath of angry witches. Dorothy Gale is in search of this iconic figure in hopes he can send her back home to Lucas, Kansas.

The Unforgettable Cast of Characters

“Emerald City” would not be the same without some of the recognizable characters fans loved from “The Wizard of Oz,” or the tornado in which transported Dorothy to Oz, and the show’s creators do not disappoint.

  • Adria Arjona plays Dorothy Gale. In the series, she is a nurse, who at birth was given up for adoption by her mother. Fans see an unusual birthmark on the infant’s wrist which later is recognized by her mother, who Dorothy has found, as she lays dying on a cellar floor. However, their reconciliation is short-lived because of the impending tornado ready to scoop Dorothy to the land of Oz.
  • Florence Kasumba is the Wicked Witch of the East. Fans first glimpse of her is after Dorothy flies into Oz in a police cruiser with a large German Shepard; aka Toto. As in the movie, the witch must die and what better way to do it but with a flying police car? Dorothy hits the witch of the west sending her flying in a flurry of red.
  • After Dorothy is transported to Oz, fans get their first glimpse of the all-powerful Oz, The Wizard, played by D’Onofrio. When he sends his king’s guard to find whatever came through the hole in the sky and kill it and to bury it, if it is dead. He also consults with The Wicked Witch of the West to see if it was her who had summoned the hole and whatever came through. Fans begin to sense that The Wizard is mean and ruthless. Furthermore, he reigns using fear and the lie that he defeated the Brave.
  • Ana Ularu plays the Wicked Witch of the West. She is portrayed as a drug-addicted witch who cares about nothing. When her sister Glinda arrives, she must straighten up to perform a ritual that will send their sister, The Wicked Witch of the East, off in a burial ceremony. It also allows the witches to extract the spells by the fallen witch by ingesting them and then regurgitating them in a vase for safe keeping.
  • Oliver Jackson-Cohen plays Lucas, who is reminiscent of the Scarecrow from the movie. After Dorothy arrives in Oz, she is sent down the yellow poppy road on a quest to Emerald City, after being banished from the tribal lands where she killed the Wicked Witch of the West. On her journey, she comes across Lucas, who is tied to a cross. He does not know who he is or why he was there. Lucas has lost his memories; aka his ‘brain,’  just like the Scarecrow.
  • Jordan Loughran plays Tip, who is the rightful ruler of Oz known as Princess Ozma. However, when fans first meet Tip, she is portrayed as a young boy being kept captive by Mombi. He is sickly, and Mombi is giving him drops of medicine to help keep him alive. Tip does not want to stay with the witch and tries to escape by way of his friend Jack.
  • Gerran Howell plays Jack; aka Jack Pumpkinhead. He is Tip’s best friend and tries to free him from his captor, Mombi. Unfortunately, Tip is being kept captive by magic and Jack cannot get through the large blockade of sticks guarding the door.
  • Fiona Shaw plays Mombi. Fans get the feeling right off that there is something wrong with the woman who seems to be taking care of the young boy making sure he stays alive. When Dorothy arrives with Lucas to acquire medicine for him before he dies, the witch shows her true colors by trying to poison the Scarecrow. Mombi later tries to kill Dorothy, after she frees Tip, but is stopped by Lucas who stabs her and smashes her head repeatedly with a vase.
  • Joely Richardson Plays Glinda the Good Witch. In the series “Emerald City,” she is portrayed as high-strung. Moreover, it is evident she does not like her sister The Wicked Witch of the West. For now, she remains compliant with The Wizard’s rules against the witches, but fans can feel an uprising coming.
  • Fans of “Emerald City” get glimpses of Eamonn, aka the Cowardly Lion, played by Mido Hamada when he is sent with the other king’s guard to search for Dorothy. However, it was not revealed how he resembles the lion.

“Emerald City” has received mixed reviews from critics on Rotten Tomatoes with an average score of 5.2 out of 10. Reviews read that the show is dark and brooding as well as confusing and contrived. Furthermore, it is compared to “Game of Thrones” with a “Wizard of Oz” mash-up that no one asked for. Viewers will have to give the series a chance and see if it is the next best television series since “Once Upon a Time.”

By Tracy Blake
Edited by Cathy Milne

Sources:

IMDb: Emerald City
NBC: Emerald City
The Hollywood Reporter: ‘Emerald City’: TV Review

Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Stuart Crawford’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License

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