I was asked to do some reviews on various TV shows and between being sick and other activities I got to it, I have couple of TV shows I’m interested in and some under my radar that I haven’t gotten to see yet,but I’m making effort to create time for them. I finally decided to do a review on NBC’s Emerald City, when I first saw it, 5 episodes had already been aired. I did what I call a “Generalized and Summarized Review” on the already aired 7 episodes. Emerald City airs every Friday 10pm.
Summarized and Generalized Reviews
Emerald City Season 1 Ep. 1 – 7
Genre(s): Adventure, Drama, Fantasy
Run time: 1hour
Emerald City is a 2017 TV series that premiered on the 6th of January, its story is created around the Oz book series- Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum, set in the fictional land of Oz where Dorothy’s embarks on a mission to get herself home where she gets taken in a tornado to Oz. Emerald City is directed by Tarem Singh.
When a tornado transports Dorothy Gale from Lucas, Kansas to the faraway land of Oz, her arrival sets in motion a prophecy about a disastrous event known as the Beast forever and strikes fear all over the land especially in their ruler, the Wizard. On her quest to meet the Wizard in Emerald City to help her get back home, Dorothy encounters witches, an amnesiac soldier, a sheltered little boy and many more mysterious beings who will ultimately shape the future of Oz and Dorothy’s place in it.
Episode 1: The Beast Forever
The series pilot introduces a baby Dorothy with a mysterious birthmark on her hand and her mom as they escape a storm that brought them to Kansas. Fast-forward 20 years later and a nurse in Lucas, Kansa city Hospital, Dorothy Gale has never spoken to her birth mother (she was raised by her uncle and aunty); on her 20th birthday Dorothy tries to go see her biological mother, Karen Chapman for the first time but there is a storm and tornado coming and on getting there sees her mom injured and a dead cop, to avoid getting taken by the tornado Dorothy hides in the police car and police dog in it which gets carried by the tornado running over the Mistress of the East and lands in the tribal village of the Munchkins whose leader is named Ojo. Dorothy is tortured in the village for killing the witch because only a witch can kill a witch, she is eventually sent on her way to meet the Wizard to help her get back to Kansas. Dorothy and the Police dog (Toto) travel to the Emerald city to meet the wizard, on her way she meets a crucified man who she helps down but discovers he suffers from amnesia, she names him Lucas after her hometown. Dorothy and Lucas are confronted and tortured by the resurrected Mistress of the East but East is fooled by Dorothy into shooting herself with the police gun in Dorothy’s backpack. The Wizard instructs his best soldier Eamonn to track what fell from the sky and kill it.
Episode 2: Prison of the Abject
Continuing from last week’s episode, Just as the Witch of the East dies, her sister one of the cardinal witches- West feels her death which prompts Glinda (witch of the north) and the Mistress of the West to perform a ritual to store East’s soul and spells within the sacred temple of the witches that has been sealed up for years by the Wizard, when he put a ban on Magic. The Wizards opens the ceremony to the public in order to get them terrified and get them to lose their respected view on the witches. Eamonn tracks down Dorothy with his band of soldiers, but when one of his soldiers try to murder him, the soldier is found dead by the other fellow soldiers leaving us to speculate that Eamonn killed him. Lucas bleeds out from his injury and falls ill, leaving Dorothy to see help from the witch Mombi. Mombi has a ward named Tip who she imprisons but claims its for his own good since he’s ill. Mombi poisons Lucas after seeing his sword, which belongs only to the Wizard’s soldiers who persecute magic practitioners but Dorothy heals him with charcoal, she locks Mombi in her room and frees Tip with the help of his friend Jack, both boys fleeing into the woods while Lucas stabs Mombi as she tries to kill Dorothy before smashing her with a vase, Jack and Tip are in the woods, Jack wakes up to a sound and sees no Tip, tracking down the sound he heard, Jack sees Tip has transformed into a girl.
Episode 3: Mistress-New-Mistress
In this episode Dorothy, Lucas, and Toto travel for the Emerald City but discover the Wizard has ordered Dorothy killed. Dorothy decides to go to Mistress of the East’s castle, where Dorothy hopes to use a tornado to go back home. She poses as the Mistress of the East’s successor and is asked to use her magic gloves (inherited when the Mistress died) to stop the storm from getting out of control. Dorothy is sucked into the tornado, where she discovers and sees evidence that her birth mother Karen was once in Oz and returns with her clothes. East’s castle is destroyed by the tornado as Dorothy, Lucas and Toto escape leading them back to their original journey to the Emerald City. Meanwhile in Emerald city, three witches publicly commit suicide with magic and the Wizard asks Anna to investigate. She realizes that the Wizard lacks magic and she’s imprisoned. Tip and Jack travel to the Land of Ev to find more medicine, to transform Tip back to a boy but a chemist explains the medicine was suppressing Tip’s true gender. Jack forcefully kisses Tip, and she angrily pushes him off a balcony to his death.
Episode 4: Science and Magic
In this episode Dorothy and Lucas encounter a girl who seems to be mute and seems to know Lucas whilst travelling through the woods. Dorothy takes her into the nearby village to find her parents discovering she isn’t deaf but has shells for earplugs in her ear, but finds Eamonn and his soldiers patrolling the village. The girl is taken away by a couple pretending to be her parents but Dorothy finds her captors have been turned to stone by the girl showing us that the girl is a witch. Eamonn confronts Dorothy, recognising Lucas’ sword, knowing his identity. Dorothy and Lucas escape with the girl after shooting Eamonn in the shoulder, Dorothy and Lucas kiss in the woods after Dorothy tells him that Science is like Magic, but next day, Lucas wakes up to a noise and he and Dorothy make a run for it but Lucas and the girl is captured found by Eamonn and Dorothy is knocked out by Ojo the village tribe leader. The Wizard and Anna find a magic portal in the village of Nimbo, but it disappears when Anna touches it. The Wizard blackmails the village elder into embracing the way of science. Tip contemplates suicide after apparently murdering Jack, but is taken to Glinda’s household where she grooms young girls given the choice to join Glinda’s nuns or the Mistress of the West’s prostitutes; Tip chooses West after she promises to teach Tip how to use magic. Jack is saved by a Scientist named Jane, and given a new mechanical body with a mechanical heart. He has trouble adjusting to his new condition, and meets the eccentric Princess Langwidere of the Land of Ev, to whom Jane sells Jack to as a servant.
Episode 5: Everybody Lies
Seeking revenge for her sister’s death, the Mistress of the West tracks down Dorothy with the help of Ojo with the promise of releasing his wife from the witches’ prison East put her in. West uses enchanted interrogation techniques to find out what happened to her sister and the information her sister wanted to tell her before she died. Dorothy begs Tip for help which she refuses,Tip eventually helps Dorothy escape West, leading to Dorothy meeting the Wizard and finding out he is also from Kansas and he knows her. The Wizard asks help from Princess Langwidere of Ev to build a weapons arsenal to help him defeat the Beast Forever. Lucas is captive and interrogated by Eamonn.
Episode 6: Beautiful Wickedness
This episode sees us looking into the story of the Wizard, an average scientist named Frank in Kansas who feels he isn’t taken seriously and given due respect by his fellow colleagues and scientists – Karen, Roberto and Jane. Frank sabotages Jane’s computer some time ago when the scientists were monitoring a tornado leading to the death of Roberto and them getting taken by the tornado and landing in Oz. Lucas is in prison in the Wizards castle and it is discovered that his memories are protected and blocked by magic, leading to the wizard enlisting the mistress of the West help to break the spell, leading to the discovery that it’s Glinda’s magic that blocks his memories and the revelation of the series of event that lead to his amnesia. Tip and Jack reunites, but Jack isn’t feeling forgiving because Tip left him for dead, it is revealed that the Mother witch leaves because only she can make little witches, the Wizard tries to convince the Princess to use the kingdom of Ev’s resources in making bullets and guns-something more powerful than magic that can kill the Beast Forever. A search is put out for the little witch girl Sylvie. The senile King of Ev, goes his search of his dead dog but finds Toto and the witch girl who turns him to stone. The Wizard promises to send Dorothy home, but if she can help him kill Glinda before she starts the War, Dorothy convinces the Wizard to let her take the girl to Glinda’castle. The next day, Dorothy escapes Emerald City with Lucas and the little girl. The Wizard shoots Anna out of anger and demonstration to the Princess of Ev as she threatens to destroy the Emerald City for her father’s death, the wizard telling her it’s Glinda that’s the enemy who should feel her wrath and not him.
Episode 7: They Came First
This episode opens with Dorothy, Lucas, and Sylvie taking a pit stop on their way to a farmhouse outside of Gillikin after their escape from Emerald City, where they plan to stay the night before continuing north to Glinda’s. Sylvie’s resting in the middle of a green field when a pack of wolves starts approaching out of nowhere. Though Dorothy begins frantically screaming Sylvie’s name to warn the girl, she can’t hear thanks to those shell earplugs. Luckily, Dorothy’s panic activates the witch’s magical bracelets/gauntlets, which release a shockwave of sorts that blocks the wolves from getting to Sylvie. When they arrive at the farmhouse, Lucas checks if it’s safe. He observes Dorothy and Sylvie playing a game, seeing how close they’re becoming, Lucas warns Dorothy she’ll have to give up Sylvie at some point stating that she belong to Glinda but Dorothy doesn’t like the sound of that. She’s hesitant to reveal the deal she made with the Wizard, but when Lucas says he’ll take first watch after Sylvie’s tucked into bed, the truth comes pouring out. Dorothy admits the Wizard’s guards aren’t coming — the Wizard let them go because he wants to help her get home. Lucas is not happy about her dishonesty, but Dorothy explains: “I lied because if you’re with Glinda … If you fight for her, we’re not on the same side.” Lucas tries to convince her that he fights for only her before they kiss. Next Morning, They get into a little argument when Dorothy tries to convince Lucas to stay behind and protect Sylvie while she faces Glinda alone saying “If I can convince Glinda to not go to war with the Wizard, the Wizard can take me home,” she says. “How could you let Sylvie love you if you knew you were leaving?”Lucas asks. “How could you let me?”. In a nod to the episode’s title, Dorothy says she has to return to Aunt Em and Uncle Henry -“They came first” -and with that, the farmhouse starts shaking, as it turns out, Sylvie overheard their argument went into a her usual magical trance at the thought of Dorothy leaving her. She eventually comes out of it when Dorothy says there might be a way all three of them can stay together asking if Sylvie would like to come to Kansas with her, Sylvie’s eyes return to normal as she nods in agreement. Lucas is on board, too, and it seems the trio is headed for a happy ending until they arrive at Glinda’s Castle. Dorothy plans to use the gauntlets against the cardinal witch if she has to. Inside the casle, Glinda appears and thanks Dorothy for returning Lucas and Sylvie to her. She then walks up to Lucas and plants a kiss right on his lips, surprised at first, his memory seemingly returns and he steps forward to kiss Glinda again while a confused Dorothy looks on. As Dorothy tries to break him from his rance with Glinda by calling his name, Lucas replies “That’s not my name”. He turns back to Glinda saying he has returned to their fight against the Wizard and asking for mercy for Dorothy, since she helped him in Nimbo. Lucas then turns to Dorothy and says “I’m sorry, Dorothy, but they came first”.
The Wizard continues in his Paranoia to destroy everything magic and any plot of Glinda’s that pose as a threat to him, the Mistress of the West mourns the death of a young witch after agreeing to the help the Wizard’s men catch young witches with the promise that the wizard will keep them safe. The young witch is captured and put in some kind of fire and ice hole (clearly the wizard didn’t keep his word) and the young witch’s power is used to kill the Wizard’s council- burning them alive, by the time West arrives to save her, she is too weak to survive and West puts her out of her misery leaving a devastated West. On their trip back to the land of Ev, Princess Langwidere leaves Jack in the screaming forest to die before swooping him to save him, demonstrating once again that he is her property.
The thing with this particular adaptation of the Wizard of Oz is Dorothy is a Latina and it has a diverse cast (the mistress of the east is black) which is good. A slightly different take and twist on Dorothy’s journey instead of the original, she doesn’t have a dog but eventually adopts the police dog (Toto). So, seven episodes have already been aired and I personally feel like the story around Dorothy herself (as the main character) isn’t strong, she’s supposed to be on a mission to find a way to get back home to Kansas but we see her take on quite some unnecessary road trips (like when she went to go look for the parents of the girl witch that popped up for nowhere) but the suspense around a good number of the series’ other characters is what makes the show interesting and quite intriguing-e.g (episode 6 reveal on the story behind the Wizard). The Wizard has seemingly suffered poor characterization with unclear motivation, his paranoia, power hungry mania and self-righteous madness leaves me wondering how long he’s going to last as one of the series character. Can he be sustained?
The best characters of the lot doing well so far is West, then probably Tip. The story around the Mistress of the West is clear and not confusing as some other characters are, West is one of the clearly articulated character the show has- a drug addict who runs a brothel and prays at the altar of opium because she hates magic and being a witch. Tip on the other hand is very inquisitive, strong headed and has a stuff side to her and a fire that shows whenever she’s seen.
Emerald City feels like an ordinary TV show with a blend of ‘Once Upon A Time’ meets ‘Game Of Thrones’, but a poor rendition of both with some memorable and creative visuals, the story surrounding the primary cast members are weak but the show thrives on the stories around the gifted supporting cast members. What the show has going for them are the visual qualities that make Emerald City intriguing, but doesn’t make up for the bad narrative that drags out with no one to actually root for or care about. The show is quite ambitious in its scope but clumsy toward how their suspense plays out. I for one feel the writing sucks. The bottom line problem with this show is the narrative/writing doesn’t work, it needs to be built up more. Good and creative visuals is basically all this series has going for them.
Overall rating: 6.5/10