NBC is a network that has as many hits as they do misses – and with the release of the trailer for their January slated Emerald City, I’m going to speculate that they might have another misfire on the horizon. But hey, I thought Once Upon a Time would only last one season, so who am I to judge?
Incase you couldn’t tell from the name or the image above, this is yet another retelling of the classic public domain favorite – L.Frank Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. With this “modern” rendition (which has also been done before, like a lot) we have a mature Dorothy (Adria Arjona), a “hot” Scarecrow (Oliver Jackson-Cohen), and a diverse cast of various geographically labeled witches (including a fierce Florence Kasumba as the Wicked Witch of the East). Vincent D’Onofrio will be playing The Wizard, aka another wacky character with a terrible wig to match. Did I mention this was directed by Tarsem Singh? (Insert sigh noise here.)
Check out the trailer below.
I’ll be the first to say that I’m really done with the gritty adaptations of Fairy Tales trend. Dark Fantasy stories (such as Ridley Scott’s Legend or even Willow to some degree) work well because you know what you’re getting into, and the balance of whimsy and terror (or light and dark) is accepted by the audience without the bat of a lash. This is because that’s the purpose of Fairy Tales in the first place – they’re stories that are meant to teach lessons, scary or otherwise. But when you have an adaptation that tips the scale towards one approach over the other – it comes off either too cheesy or too desperate for acceptance.
Emerald City might be the greatest example of something reeking of desperation from the get go. And in case you need further examples of Tarsem doing projects like this, let me point you to this charming review of The Cell.
We are first introduced to this show’s Dorothy, who carries on the new tradition of Modern Adaptations of Classic Works, by filling the “Female Protagonist Must Be A Cop or Have Cop Related Things In Her Life” trope – since in the trailer we see her with a Cop Dog and inside of a Cop Car. Will she be just like Emma Swan of Once or Cat from Beauty and the Beast? My Magic 8 Ball says most likely.
Also copying from those mentioned shows is an apparent romance between our female protagonist and the “misunderstood”/”mysterious”/”emo” hot guy with a scar. And Lucas (aka the Scarecrow) gets bonus points for being British – another similarity that many of these kinds of shows share. Does the couple look like they have true chemistry? No, but has that ever stopped the masses from accepting a future internet-shipped couple before? Obviously not.
If there’s anything that truly symbolizes how much this show wants to be cool and edgy, it is the representation of the Munchkins. Gone are the days of cute shorter individuals in colorful outfits, or even the cool sparkly variation from The Wiz, but instead we have a tribe of warriors that resembles a bizarre mixture of WGN’s Outsiders and the Vikings on the History Channel. Do they look cool? No, just out of place, and in need of a haircut.
There’s a lot to this laundry list, which I could continue – but we’d be here for quite some time. Instead, all I want to do is get this off my chest…..
Emerald City, I get what you’re trying to be. You want the tween/teen audience to eat you up and scream with glee over you on Tumblr. You dream of having Hot Topic collaborations done, inspired by your characters. You really want to be like Sally Fields at the Oscars, but darling – most people are not going to tell you they like you. You don’t have to have a traditionally attractive lead or a love interest to gain viewership. You don’t have to mash up Steampunk imagery with H&M’s Goth section to look cool. And you especially don’t need to hire a director that is known for style over substance to have a fan following.
Instead, NBC, take a page from the shows within your “genre” that have worked. The most popular elements from them are actually the ones that are the most unconventional. And rather than trying to force lightning into a bottle, come up with a concept that does it on its own instead of having to take on a popular IP to get noticed.
Hope you find your successful Rainbow, without having to put it obviously in the background of a shot.
A Future Non-Viewer
So what do you think of Emerald City? Comment below with your thoughts and ideas about the new trailer. Do you disagree, and have a bit of excitement about the project? Or do you think this is just another example of bad TV from NBC? Tell us all your thoughts below.