The Pilot of EMERALD CITY deserved an “F.” Anything is better than that grade, so I am happy to report that it is now at a D-.
NBC has struggled since maybe 2010 to churn out more than one solid show each season. I’m not sure what the problem is over there, but as of now, This is Us is saving it from people trying to figure out how that network is still paying people bonuses for crap content. Emerald City” is right on track to being cancelled.
With that said, I want this show to work. It is a dark tale of the Land of Oz, a land mysterious and dangerous to its own people.
Dorothy (Adria Arjona) is connected to this world in ways that she’s discovering as she moves through it. Her birth mother was an Interloper, a person brought to Oz without the people’s consent. Dorothy is also an Interloper, causing the late East Witch’s husband to nearly kill her and Lucas (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), who is back to speaking English. Interlopers do not belong in Oz. Because they’re foreigners, the people assume they’ve come to hurt them (whoa….doesn’t this sound familiar?).
The question remains: what was Dorothy’s mother doing in Oz, and does it have anything to do with why Dorothy was adopted? We still do not know what the tattoo on her hand represents. Is Dorothy really a child of Oz? Now, that would be something. Dorothy wants to go home, but she makes it clear that her motivation to do so relies solely on seeing her mother again. Keep in mind that her “mother” is her biological mother. As she’s traveling Oz, she is getting to know her mother, which is her biggest desire in the first place. I have a feeling that some things she discovers will disappoint her.
By the way, how does Dorothy know she is still alive? The last time we saw her, she was on the floor writhing in pain from a wound. Eh. That’s neither here nor there. There are plenty of other things that don’t make sense.
I do like that Oz just might be some undiscovered earthly land. The original The Wizard of Oz” makes Oz seem like a figment of its protagonist’s imagination, which is kind of condescending. Maybe Oz is somewhere in Romania, and people with supernatural powers have made it invisible to the eye or even radar (NBC: Use this as an idea. You’re welcome). And if this were true, then all tornadoes are just portals to some supernatural fairy land. Now, that would dope, especially in real life.
The colors in this show are stunning. Dorothy looks fantastic in the all red that she has inherited from the late East Witch (although the late East Witch wore it better). Every scene is saturated in color. And I love that. Although the story is weak, at least what I’m watching visually excites me.
Last but not least, I have to address the character Tip (Jordan Loughran). There are some trans issues being explored here, and I am not sure how this fits into the rest of the story. Forgive me, but I don’t have a clear understanding as to why Tip believes she is a boy. Maybe I missed that whole backstory, but I just don’t get it. She ends up killing the one person who loves her because he tries to kiss her. I can understand a person wanting boundaries to be set, but she just up and pushes him to the point where he falls over a banister and plummets to his death. I don’t know how that went from 0 – 100 that fast, but ookkk…
This leads me to my next point: everything is too dramatic. Every scene has someone being yelled at; stabbed; killed or violently transported. Without a clear story, none of this matters. If I were reading these scenes, I would have summoned my inner Tamar Braxton and declared; “This is team too much.”
So, going from an F to a D- means progress. I doubt if Emerald City is the TV version of the Cleveland Cavaliers after losing 3 games straight in the NBA finals, but one can hope.
Season 1, Episode 2 (S01E02)
Emerald City airs Friday at 9PM on NBC
Jennifer spends her nights writing, her days securing insurance for TV shows, and her in-betweens blogging about the silliness and seriousness of life on her blog.
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Jennifer Ford | Contributor