A handful of hours after I posted my “Favorite Oz Films” entry, my boyfriend was sitting on my couch. I brought my blog up to him and he said, “Did you hear they released a trailer for the Emerald City series?”
We watched it shortly after and I had mixed, but mostly positive thoughts. A day later, he told me the series was directed by Tarsem Singh, who directed The Fall and The Cell, both of which we enjoyed. According to IMDB, he directed all ten episodes. That’s always a plus for me. With commercial storytelling (network television, mainstream films, etc) I often feel that the more control a director has over a project, the better. Otherwise the plot and content can suffer from a “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome. That’s my opinion, anyway.
So now that you stuck through that whole sermon, you get to read my thoughts on the content of the trailer. You. Lucky. People.
So first of all the official YouTube channel had this to say:
Swept up into the eye of a tornado, 20-year-old Dorothy Gale (Adria Arjona) is transported to another world – a mystical land in great peril, where an all-powerful wizard has forbidden magic and rules over many kingdoms. This is the fabled Land of Oz in a way you’ve never seen it before, where lethal warriors roam, wicked witches plot in the shadows and a young girl from Kansas becomes a headstrong heroine who holds the fate of their world in her hands.
WHAT WORKED FOR ME:
I’d like to say a few words about the casting first. Aside from Vincent D’Onofrio, I’m unfamiliar with the cast as a whole. That’s probably a good thing. Unknown or lesser known leads yield a blank slate for a project, where I’m concerned. I won’t be going in to the EC pilot with expectations in that department.
Visually, Singh’s Oz looks beautiful. I should have known he directed it, having just watched The Fall for the first time all the way through a few weeks ago. I especially loved the mosaics on the balcony overlooking what I’m assuming to be the Emerald City. There’s a South American, high desert feel to some of these scenes and a winter wilderness presence elsewhere. So it looks like the Land of Oz is being presented as a varied realm.
Lastly, I’d like to say that the aspect I felt most appealing was the subtext beneath the plot. Both the trailer and the trailer description point to a loss of magic and a rise of technology. L. Frank Baum wanted to write a fairytale for a new age when he wrote the original novel. Emerald City will probably touch on some deep themes.
As a literary aside, I’d like to mention that magic has been banned in Oz several times during its history in the novels. Both Glinda and the unnamed Witch of North outlawed magic in their hemispheres, and Princess Ozma made it illegal to practice to magic without her appointment through the entire empire.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK FOR ME:
It’s very hard for me to get behind anything with too strong a commercial presence, but I’m really trying here. I don’t want to be a contrarian simply for the sake of being a contrarian. I’m not twenty anymore. That being said, there were a few things I just couldn’t stomach.
Some of the dialogue felt forced, maybe even grandiose. It just didn’t feel believable. “War is upon us,” and “only you can stop it,” are always lines I can do without. I’d rather see these facts unfold than being told from the onset.
The super cleavaged-up Wicked Witch of the West (presumably). I mean really, I have nothing against a sexy Wicked Witch, but let’s try to be subtle. If this ties into the actual plot, I won’t be grossed out, but until then I’m going to roll my eyes at the frame of the Wicked Witch and her floating monkeys coming towards us.
I have some reservations, but The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is such a cathartic formula to follow that I feel it’d be hard to mess up. I haven’t seen any Oz stories (save for the incredibly racist silent film) that I simply disliked. When I frist read about this series, it was being described as a “Wizard of Oz with Game of Thrones elements.” It shows in the trailer and I can get behind the idea.
It’s also clear that this show will be based a little more on the MGM film than the original book. I say that became of the ruby tones associated with the Witch of East (versus the Silver Shoes from the novel) and the powers seemingly harnessed by Dorothy, and the identification of the Good Witch with the North. Also, there was the rainbow mobile in the window of the kitchen during the Kansas scene.
I’ll be watching Emerald City, at least the pilot. If I dig it, or get sucked in, I may write reviews for each episode in like fashion. Hope you guys enjoyed this and feel free to comment and share your thoughts below!