EMERALD CITY Review: “The Beast Forever” / “Prison of the Abject”

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I can imagine what the development meetings were like at NBC when discussing .  I’m sure people threw out the words “interesting”, “fresh”, and “innovative”.  And they’re right.  But by the time of execution, someone should have intervened and asked: “wtf are we doing?”

So, as you can see, I am not enjoying this show at all.  Well, the colors excite me.  The reds, yellows, and greens are quite magnificent, but I’m sure that’s not what any showrunner wants to hear.  But those are facts.  The colors are the most interesting thing about the show.  And here are the things I have issues with:

The Story

What is the story?  I’m not sure whether I am being too harsh, but I really don’t understand what is going on.

Dorothy (Adria Arjona) was adopted (for some reason) and desires a relationship with her birth mother who now lives in her small town of Lucas, KS.  She decides to visit her on a late night during a tornado (okkkk…). She sees a policeman dead in her mother’s home, and then she sees her mother bleeding out (from a gunshot, maybe? Idk) in a storm basement.  Her mother urges her that the police cannot come to help her. Clearly, they’re the enemy (but why?).  Dorothy tries to get help from another police officer, but it’s too late. The tornado envelops her while she’s in a cop car and carries her off to Oz.

What is cool is that the remixed version of Toto is a K-9 dog, who was in the backseat of a cop car.  That let me know that this was not your children’s version of “The Wizard of Oz.”  Oz, in this life, requires an animal that can bite someone to death. What in all of the heck?

The Acting

EMERALD CITY -- "The Beast Forever" Episode 101-- Pictured: Adria Arjona as Dorothy, Toto -- (Photo by: David Lukacs/NBC)

It’s quite terrible.  Anytime you remember that someone on screen is acting that means they’re terrible. Adria is a newcomer, and I can tell.  Her acting choices make no sense.  She furrows her brows too intensely during stressful situations.  Furrowed brows seem like a novice and cheesy choice. Like, every time she does it.

A man that she rescued and has named Lucas (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) is also quite terrible.  He is very attractive, which is nice, but I’d like to believe that he’s this mysterious, complicated character that I know Emerald City wants me to believe.  It’s unfortunate that I don’t.  As of now, he is muttering some unintelligible language when 2 seconds ago he was speaking English.  Lastly, is he supposed to be some remixed version of the Lion, Tin Man or Scarecrow? TBD.

The only solid performance from this show is Glinda (Joely Richardson). I mean, she’s just amazing overall.  She’s been in many, many things like The Patriot, and Nip/Tuck.  She was also in 101 Dalmatians.  That is an awesome movie.

Oh! And Toto. He does a really good , too.

The Length of the Pilot

It was 2 hours. Why?  The whole 2 hours was consistently subpar.  So, I don’t know why it needed to be that long. Did Martin Scorsese direct this?

I don’t know any pilot that needs to be two hours long. Wait! I completely take that back – Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Power…basically, any show I like.  Emerald City did not make me want more. I kept checking the time to see whether it was close to being over.

A Woman of (assumed) African Descent Being the Wicked Witch of the East

We haven’t come that far yet.

EMERALD CITY -- "The Beast Forever" Episode 101-- Pictured: Florence Kasumba as Wicked Witch of the East -- (Photo by: Rico Torres/NBC)

All the other witches are of (assumed) European descent.  I use “assumed” because I just found out that Jennifer Beals identifies as a Black woman.  This applies to Wentworth Miller as well, so…

There are still too many negative images of Black women that haven’t been atoned for since the birth of television.  Again, I’m sure someone brought the “nay” on this casting choice, but someone else must have popped up to be like, “Nah. We can do it. Our President is Black.”

The thing is that TV is one of the biggest teachers of how we should treat and view each other.  It’s a teacher by default (don’t be mad).  So, seeing a Black woman as a wicked witch with no balance of a Black good witch is not cool.  We haven’t come that far yet. Nuh-uh.

The moral of this post is that Emerald City blows.  I’m sorry, but it does.  I am not looking forward to watching the second episode, but I have to. The way my bank account is set up…

F Grade

Season 1, Episode 1 and 2 (S01E01 and S01E02)
Emerald City airs Friday at 9PM on NBC

Read all of our reviews of Emerald City here. 
Read our reviews of more of your favorite shows here.


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.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter: @reneseford
Keep up with all of Jennifer’s reviews here.

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