Emerald City: Season 1 (2017)

Season 1
Emerald City

Critics Consensus

Dark and brooding, but also confusing and contrived, Emerald City is the Game of Thrones/Wizard of Oz mashup nobody asked for.



Critic Ratings: 42


Audience Score

User Ratings: 406
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Air date: Jan 6, 2017
Air date: Jan 6, 2017
Air date: Jan 13, 2017
Air date: Jan 20, 2017
Air date: Jan 27, 2017
Air date: Feb 3, 2017
Air date: Feb 10, 2017
Air date: Feb 17, 2017
Air date: Feb 24, 2017
Air date: Mar 3, 2017

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Critic Reviews for Emerald City Season 1

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (21)

The escapes and re-escapes pile up as this recurrently grisly tale tries to cast its spell... But Emerald City has its moment as a vicarious, danger-packed thrill ride replete with jolts, wonders and ample shivers amid its shimmers.

Jan 6, 2017 | Rating: B | Full Review…
Top Critic

Emerald City is a gestalt of a series as opposed to an adaptation of a beloved book series and iconic movie. Many images and ideas abound, some alluring, none particularly coherent.

Jan 5, 2017 | Rating: C- | Full Review…
Top Critic

The fact that the design of Emerald City is so blatantly ripped from Game of Thrones means one is going to more easily notice where this iteration comes up short. And it's everywhere.

Jan 4, 2017 | Full Review…

I DO know that Emerald City is the direct result of some evil thing hooking the cheerful, technicolor classic The Wizard of Oz up to the death machine from The Princess Bride and sucking every ounce of life out of it.

Jan 11, 2017 | Full Review…

The plotting is goofy, the tone is relentlessly dark and the pacing is excruciatingly slow. Worst, the characters are hard to care about.

Jan 9, 2017 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

The overall result is a first season that has its flaws, but features enough delightful weirdness to intrigue those willing to give it a chance... Emerald City is without a doubt an epic leap into the unknown. Sometimes, it soars.

Jan 6, 2017 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

NBC clearly saw some potential in this new modern take on an old tale, but its opening two hours are proof that it could have done with more heart à la Dorothy, and less of the grittiness that's taken over prestige television.

Aug 28, 2018 | Full Review…

I'm stoked for more, and I hope you are too!

Aug 28, 2018 | Full Review…

Emerald City's ambitious pretentions of being the next great adult dark fantasy keep colliding with a childish, clumsy tendency toward unpleasant shock value.

Jan 6, 2017 | Full Review…

Seems like at every point in this production where a choice could be made to right the ship, everyone involved decided to double down on the insanity and banality.

Jan 6, 2017 | Rating: D | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Emerald City: Season 1

  • Apr 25, 2019
    This really is a great show, very interesting twist on an old favorite, it's a shame it didn't get the chance to show what it could have done with a season 2. Visually the show was amazing the acting was top notch if you like fantasy, little horror and a good twist try this
  • Mar 27, 2019
    Ridiculous. Bad acting. Unwatchable. One and a half for decent production value.
  • Mar 14, 2019
    It was a great show, it was original, it was compelling and consistent. It is sad it was cancelled, it deserved better.
  • Jan 06, 2019
    Posted review . Seems rotten tomatoes can’t handle getting back what they have no trouble dishing out in the way of criticism
  • Dec 06, 2018
    Im surprised nobody liked this. Its a fun over the top retelling of wizard of oz. Looks very good so suspect it was not cheap to produce and the actors are quite honestly overqualified for such a story.
  • Sep 16, 2018
    I liked the show. Wish it would come back
  • Jan 28, 2018
    Emerald City is the Game of Thrones/Wizard of Oz mashup nobody asked for. But I'm disappointed that it was canceled before they wanted it.
  • Dec 12, 2017
    It is the obligation of each generation to revisit the great works of literature and reinterpret them through the lens of their own experiences, predilections, hopes and fears. While Shakespeare is arguably at the list of remakes and re-imaginings one set of novels on the list of the books of. Frank Baum, the author of the perennial children’s classic, ‘The Wizard of Oz ‘the most famous interpretation is the 1939 film of the same name, considerations of the stories contained in the series the latest is a television series on NBC. ‘Emerald City’. It is a rather bold move away from what is traditionally regarded as the story and characters. With the success of ‘Oz’ in such venues as an award-winning Broadway musical, this is an opportune time to reformat the adventures of Dorothy Gale in the far of land of Oz. The series does manage to perform a substantial reinvention of the familiar augmenting the story by drawing on other material culled from various other books of the series. The show makes a valiant attempt but falls short of reaching its full potential. Unfortunately, the series was cancelled by the network after only ten episodes. This is regrettable since the series could have become an interesting addition to the broad selection of fantasy stories currently popular on television. The abrupt termination of the series by NBC/Universal was another instance of corporate short sightedness. A story like this is exceptionally dependent on crafting an intricate tapestry of situations and character development. This is part of the evolution of a new variation of a tale generally perceived in a set pattern. This requires time and patience both for the creative people producing the series and the audience. It is frequently easy for a viewer to remember that this is part of a multibillion dollar industry and ultimately the network executives are obliged to make what fiscally responsible decisions. With the current distribution paradigm including numerous tiers of cable stations and an ever-growing influence of streaming video services, there is usually a glimmer of hope. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case here. The series contained an impressively talent cast on both sides of the camera. The issue that introduces is the simple fact that they are typically busy and most likely already involved with another project. A few familiar elements are retained in this treatment of the story. Most importantly, the protagonist and principle point of view character is Dorothy Gale (Adria Arjona). Rather than the young girl dressed in her iconic blue gingham dress followed by a cute little puppy, this Dorothy for the new millennium is a twenty-something savvy Latina whose Toto is a large German Shepard. The simple farm girl has been morphed into a nurse, an educated, resourceful professional woman. Understandably, this place a completely different spin on the underlying narrative. In the movie, the dominant theme pervading the story is the transformation of innocence through a series of incredible adventures. The series opens with Dorothy living in a remote town in Kansas. She wants to recone4ct with her biological mother. Twenty years ago she was given up for adoption and although her new family was supportive, Dorothy still had an unrelenting need to connect with the woman who gave her life. A sudden tornado sweeps through force her to seek shelter in s police car along with a police dog. When the dust clears Dorothy and Toto find themselves in a place not Kansas. The means of traversing the realms between our world and Oz is eventually explained as a scientific research project gone awry. The purpose of the research was to explore creating a new source of clean energy. This is a rather subtle nuance to the story that balances the requisite dependency of magic as a major driving force to propel the themes. This offers the audience a balance between science and the supernatural. Upon landing in Oz, she is met by a trial community, the Mombi who inhabit Munja'kin country. Her arrival in the squad car resulted in the hitting of one of the four Cardinale witches of Oz, Sister East (Florence Kasumba), better known as ‘The Wicked Witch of the East.’ The chief of the tribe informs Dorothy that this incidence will make her a target for the powerful Wizard of Oz (Vincent D'Onofrio). During his tumultuous rise to power he outwarded magic banishing witches. Life rapidly becomes increasingly complicated when Dorothy attempts to find the Wizard and hopefully explain what little she understands about the recent events. Along the way Dorothy encounters East again understandably angry about car falling from the sky striking her. East intends to kill Dorothy but becomes distracted by the service revolver Dorothy took from the police car. The quick thinking young woman tricks the witch into pointing the gun at herself, pulling the trigger blown a hole through her head. Upon the witch’s death the focus of her power, ornate gems and gold chains surrounding her hand. it disappears but when Dorothy is facing a potentially lethal situation it reappears conferring with magical powers. Dorothy gaining access to magical abilities does assist in reintroducing one of the core themes to the story, the loss of innocence as manifested through Dorothy. As a nurse, her education was geared towards a reliance on science. Suddenly she is literally dropped into a strange world were magic exist. Compounding this major perceptual change of realty is discovering she can wield these supernatural forces. Thankfully, much to the credit of the professionalism and talent of the writers, this plot contrivance is judiciously applied avoiding the ancient pitfall of Deus ex machina. The over use of magic would completely negate the effect achieved by its juxtaposition of science. Midway into the season a twist was infused into the plot that made this comparison crucial from another perspective. The revolver that Dorothy brought to Oz is initially mistaken for a powerful magical talisman capable of killing a Cardinal witch but the Wizard, originally from this world, recognizes it for what it is. He plans to coerce the ruler of a kingdom with mechanical resources to mass produce them. His excuse to the people is the weapons would be used to defeat their archenemy of boogieman proportions, ‘the Beast Forever'. He plans to dominate other regions and eradicate the witches forever.9 One aspect of this canceled before its time series that was well executed was the imagery. From imaginative set design and costumes to the use of numerous genre styles the look and feel of the show was beyond what is commonly seen especially on broadcast television. The initial antagonist, West (Ana Ularu), is reminiscent of a Goth stylist’s dream. Dressed in black and augmented by the dark ash perpetually on her fingers, she has fallen from status since the Wizard outlawed witches. West was reduced to an opium addicted madam of a brothel. West is vindictive and a constant source of consternation to Mother North, Glinda (Joely Richardson). She remains powerful despite the ban. Although she hates the Wizard Glinda performs a critical service for him. She runs an orphanage for young girls. They are trained and educated so as young women they can become part of the Wizard’s High Council. Once again amazingly creative design clads these advisors in plane robes topped with a large, cobra-like hood. It does imply a cloistered, religious order appearance to them. Naturally Glinda is opposite West in everything but opposing the Wizard. The Witch of the North is always shown in glistening white robes. One of the fascinating visuals is how the Tin Man is reimagined. He is a boy named Jack who was critically injured, kept alive by the replacement of failed and damaged body parts by mechanical replacements. His appearance is taken by the iconic look created in steampunk. Naturally, one organ requiring replacement was his heart. In due course, the audience is shown a ‘Scarecrow’ and ‘Cowardly Lion’ with a novel twist in appearance, character development and personality. The series concluded on a cliffhanger leaving audience members that did become invested in the show forever in the lurch. While some networks do demonstrate a modicum of respect to the viewers by changing the last episode to wrap up loose ends it appears that NBC set the pink slips out when it was too late for the showrunners to do anything.
  • Jul 19, 2017
    Started watching recently. Couldn't even finish the two-hour season premiere. Bet there is a reason why this got cancelled.
  • Jul 19, 2017
    This is probably the worst show of the year.

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