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Emerald City a Different, Darker Take on the Wizard of Oz

by Parker Montour

In a world governed by a ruthless leader, where magic is forbidden, and a murderous beast strikes fear in even the bravest of hearts, Dorothy Gale must travel the lands searching for Emerald City and ultimately, a way back home.

You’ve heard the tale of Dorothy and Oz, but never like this. The Wizard of Oz (1939) gave us the tale of Dorothy Gale being whisked away to an unknown land where she made friends with several unfortunate souls looking for the wizard.

The Wizard of Oz did not start out as a film. This tale was originally a children’s novel written in 1900 by L. Frank Baum. Although The Wizard of Oz had been created in 1900, the story did not become popular until the release of the film in 1939. There were several other films and shorts created before the movie.

Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman brought us Wicked on Broadway back in 2003. Wicked was the untold tale of the wicked witch of the west, also known as Elphaba, and her friend Glinda. The musical was a story of their journey together and how things came to be in The Wizard of Oz.

Several other film adaptations have been made from The Wizard of Oz such as, Oz the Great and Powerful, and The Wiz. Along with those came several joke remakes and adaptations in popular T.V. show episodes like Phineas and Ferb, Futurama, and Supernatural. Many novels have also been based after Dorothy’s adventures.

Emerald City is a 2016 Fantasy NBC T.V series. The series was developed by Matthew Arnold and Josh Friedman, while directed by Tarsem Singh. Set to run ten episodes long, Emerald City takes the tale of Dorothy and twists it. Using thrilling themes, this tale is dark and nerve wracking, keeping you on edge the entire first episode.

“The Beast Forever” is the first episode, running just over 90 minutes long. Dorothy Gale played by Adria Arjona, is a 20 year old nurse in Lucas, Kansas that gets caught up in a tornado sending her to Oz inside of a police car.

When watching Emerald City, keep in mind that this is nothing like the movie. The bright colors and happy music are gone with the wind. In its place is a chilling story, making you question everything you thought you once knew about Oz. No one was happy about the death of the Witch in the East, and Dorothy will pay the price for her misendeavours.

The diversity in this film is astounding. The characters each have different races, and are portrayed in different lights. The show integrates diversity of gender and race.

The costumes themselves are on a whole new level. The costumes are eccentric, extravagant, and pull the viewer’s eyes towards the character. The characters are covered in glitz and glam to show their power through the costumes.

“The challenge in bringing these creatures to life was to push past the cartoonish depiction we remember, and turn them into actual people who were somehow transformed. For the most part, it works. The man you’ll recognize as Scarecrow has a quest for a brain that’s now a more nuanced and subtle exploration of PTSD and memory loss, the Tin Man begins as a full, able-bodied human.” [1]

“There’s the Mistress of the Eastern Wood, whom Dorothy accidentally hits (and kills) with the cop car, (echoing Dorothy’s house, killing the Wicked Witch of the East in the movie) a group of tribal woods people, and the vain Wizard (a bewigged Vincent D’Onofrio) who uses low-tech drones (shaped like the movie’s familiar flying monkeys) to survey his empire.” [2]

“I really liked Emerald City,” said junior Nora Johnston. “The scarecrow was super creepy but I really liked him.”

“I watched part of the first episode,” said junior Miles Scott. “I really love it so far. The plot is kind of hard to follow but I am itching to watch more.”

Throw out everything you thought you knew about Oz and prepare to re-think the entire story line. The characters you know and love have changed drastically and twist your views of Oz altogether. If you are looking for a bloody twist on a story you love, Emerald City is definitely worth watching.



[1] http://www.tvguide.com/news/emerald-city-nbc-review/