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Emerald City is one of those shows where you can see so much potential. However, it never focuses on the stronger aspects of the show. Characters/ actors with better stories and charisma are relegated to second-tier roles. Meanwhile, the top billing characters/ actors struggle under the weight of expectation and are crushed by it as the season comes to an end.
At first, Emerald City’s story seems very familiar. Dorothy is a girl from Kansas who gets swept up into a tornado and lands in Oz. However, there is quite a bit remixed or taken straight from the books in this adaptation. Dorothy is now Latina and is a full grown woman. On top of that, the Tin Man, Scarecrow, and Cowardly Lion are nothing like you remember. In fact, if it wasn’t for certain aspects of how they are introduced, what they become, or their costume, you may not make the association. The same thing goes for Glinda and The Witch of the West. Their personalities are nothing like what you may remember and if it wasn’t for Glinda’s name being spoken and Mistress West noting her nickname, you’d wonder if you got the wrong show.
But one thing strikingly clear is that this is a much darker version of Oz than you may remember from the Judy Garland version. There is poverty, we see people get murdered, including it being implied kids are killed toward the end of the season, and witches are much more prominent. In fact, rather than The Wizard being a bumbling fool, he is more of a totalitarian. One which has banned magic and heavily oppresses witches. On top of that, the villain of the series isn’t the Wicked Witch of the West but the duty is shared by The Wizard, Glinda at times, and this being known as The Beast Forever. Something we hear about and see briefly but, thanks to the season ending abruptly, its terror isn’t fully experienced.
The Complicated Relationships Between The Witches
One of the first things you may latch on, besides the below Tip, is the complicated world and relationship between witches. Mistress West grows on you, as does Glinda to a point, and just the drama of Mistress West siding with the Wizard and leading to the massacre of most of her kind sets the scene. One in which she is mistrusted and an outcast. Making it where, as you realize how miserable she is, you come to see her as not some generic goth looking witch but a person deeply hurting and in need of a friendship that has substance. Something she thinks she may never find, alongside redemption, because of all the deaths she inadvertently caused.
Then with Glinda, she isn’t the good witch of the north. Oh no. She is calculated, conniving, and much more mysterious than what you are familiar with. Also, she is in conflict with so many on the show and seems like the de facto villain until you take account of The Wizard’s actions and the pending Beast Forever.
One of the first welcomed editions, inspired by the books, has to be Tip. This, basically trans character, isn’t necessarily masterfully played, you can tell the actress is a bit green, but the effort! Oh, the effort to make this interesting character into something, it’s there. The only issue is, once separated from Jack, they bounce around a bit from one character to another and sort of becomes an accessory. One which ends the show with a storyline which makes them prominent but, as noted, the season ends abruptly so we don’t get to see how that storyline plays out.
Dorothy and The Wizard
As you can imagine, filling the shoes of two iconic characters is difficult. On top of that, the characters you are inhabiting are similar almost in name only. Dorothy is now a non-singing character who is a Latina. On top of that, you are a Dorothy with a complicated network drama type past, an adult, and a complicated relationship with a. Alongside that, you are playing a character who seemingly is connected to everyone for storyline potential. But, sadly, the actress who plays her is very much like Jessica Alba.
What I mean by this is, while she is beautiful, seems to know her lines, and can craft enough chemistry with her male love interest to make the relationship seem credible, she is dull to watch. There isn’t much in the way of charisma or an ability to just get lost in her character. You are just stuck with this actress who you can see is trying, but is giving you no real reason to buy what she is selling.
The same goes for The Wizard. Be it because it is hard to separate D’Onofrio from his DareDevil character, even with his luxurious wig, or his almost William Shatner way of speaking, he is dead on arrival. Then, as they develop the man he was before he was the Wizard, it doesn’t help things. For once, and this seems very rare, character development almost makes things worse for they make him seem like a bumbling idiot who finally got the power he thought he always deserved.
On The Fence
Langwidere and Jack’s Relationship, as Well as Langwidere’s Secret
Jack, as an individual, even after he is augmented, isn’t a noteworthy character. Langwidere, however? This princess who wears these elaborate masks? She was something of interest. If only because she had a more cartoonish Game of Thrones type of personality. Like a Cersei Lannister light1. Someone less brooding, less calculated and a bit more open about her emotions.
Yet, watching her open up and step away from her icy exterior with Jack was something to watch. Granted, she was very hot and cold, but as they truly grew close and her secret was revealed, it was hard to not want to see more of the two of them together.
Overall: Negative (Don’t Watch)
If you read up on the show, you’ll learn this was cancelled before it even aired. However, it seems NBC needed something to put in the timeslot Emerald City was given so it was given its swan song. Something you almost question why did they do that? For while not horrible, it stumbles so much that by the end of the show it is crawling, gripping roots and mud, just to get to the finish line. Yet, it doesn’t. Episode 10 ends and you are given the least satisfying season, though ultimately series, finale you may have ever experienced. Add on that the show didn’t give much to really cling to which would warrant you getting upset, and hopefully you can see why this is being labeled as “Don’t Watch.” For while there are positive things noted, believe me when I say they can barely even count as silver linings.