Critical Condition: Emerald City

Emerald City (TVNZ 2, 8.40 Saturday)

➢ “You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who hasn’t seen The Wizard of Oz, read the source material by L. Frank Baum, or come across some retelling of Dorothy’s picaresque journey. And therein lies the core problem with Emerald City. In look and tone, it does not imitate the classic 1939 film starring Judy Garland, but this darker take on the story remains so familiar that, although it’s gorgeous, there’s too little tension and suspense driving it.” — Variety.

➢ “When this Dorothy lands in Oz, she’s armed, and that dog alongside her is no basket-size terrier. The result is decidedly not a fairy tale for young children. This version of Oz has bloodshed, charred bodies, a very disturbing multiple suicide and much more. [The] premiere consists of two episodes, which is good, because two hours is about how long it takes you to acclimate to the tone and intent. In the third episode, a doozy, the show’s grip on you really tightens.” — New York Times.

➢ “The minute that Dorothy Gale (Adria Arjona) first enters the Land of Oz in Emerald City—by way of a tornado, yes, but also an abandoned cop car and a couple of bloodied corpses—you might wonder whether the show’s primary influence is L. Frank Baum or Game of Thrones. With its sweeping shots of otherworldly landscapes, the giant effigies of warriors looming over coastal cities, and the fur-clad tribesman and ethereal but steely women, Emerald City clearly had the HBO show in mind when conjuring up its dark alternative universe. Call it the Wizard of Westeroz, if you will.” — The Atlantic.

➢ “There are dark and stormy nights and much wintry foreboding, humiliating walks of shame, and a most ironic return of the king. Like Syfy’s The Magicians or HBO’s Westworld, Emerald City is a fantasy that explicitly or implicitly interrogates the values of today’s fantasy. It’s interesting to pick apart; it’s not much fun to watch.” — Entertainment Weekly.

➢ “The producers of Emerald City say they were inspired by the political allegory in Baum’s original novels, but the attempts at contemporary relevance (surveillance drones, a character struggling with her gender identity, a clash between science and spirituality) are half-baked. For a trippy twist on The Wizard of Oz, you’d be better off looking for Dark Side of the Rainbow online. Emerald City is a trip down the yellow brick road that never really goes anywhere.” — Los Angeles Times.

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