Emerald City (NBC)
Premiered January 6 at 9pm
I feel like we’ve seen every possible incarnation of “The Wizard of Oz” there is. That’s the problem, of course, since each reimaging tries to envision things in a whole new way, and it’s getting very, very tired. Meeting Dorothy as a full-fledged adult doctor, who becomes known as a “healer” once she gets to Oz, is just the first of many modifications in this especially dark and gloomy interpretation. I can understand why this show tends towards darkness, but it’s so unappealing in the way that it presents all of it. The focus on witchcraft is grim, and actually pretty creepy, and I can’t find anything to latch on to and show me that any part of this show is worthwhile. It doesn’t have the same camp factor as “Once Upon a Time” but still seems just as skimpy on some of its storytelling. I recognized only Joely Richardson in the cast in an admittedly meaty role as one hell of a scary Glinda. I couldn’t figure out why the Wizard sounded so painfully American and casual, and then I realized he was played by Vincent D’Onofrio, doing a giddier version of what he did far more effectively on “Daredevil” in a truly unfortunate part that makes this show even less enticing. I try to commit to watching the full debut installments but it was hard to get through this two-hour premiere. All that I left this show thinking about was how much I’d rather be watching “Wicked” instead of this.
How will it work as a series? I don’t think Dorothy is going back to Kansas anytime soon, and there’s so much trouble she can get into in this dark version of Oz. I feel like everything is so volatile that it’s going to be hard for anyone to stay alive, and so much treachery is going to make this a place no one wants to visit, no matter how many knock knock jokes they try to tell.
How long will it last? I’m not too sure. The reviews aren’t strong, and while the ratings were pretty good, airing on Friday nights isn’t a great thing unless your network is CBS. Maybe this will be what changes it, especially since it’s airing after “Grimm,” which shares its genre and hopefully its audience. I’m betting it doesn’t make it to season two.
Pilot grade: D