Parents' Guide to

Emerald City

By Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Wizard of Oz meets Game of Thrones in dark remake.

TV NBC Drama 2017
Emerald City Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 6 parent reviews

age 15+

Tries too hard to be Game of Thrones lite

I get that doing a straight out retelling of the original Baum story wouldn't fly today. And there is precedent for a modernized version to work (The Wiz). But I felt this more adult take basically lost what made the original work. Not that there weren't some interesting characters. This show's version of the Wicked Witch of the West was intriguing, and there's also another character I won't name because of spoilers who is given an interesting approach. And Vincent D'Onofrio, looking more like Orson Welles with every passing show he does, makes an interesting, if underplayed, Wizard. But - there's just not enough here to maintain interest. There's too much sex and violence for younger (under 15) viewers. But there's not really a whole lot for older teen and adult viewers, either. There actually haven't been a whole lot of Game of Thrones clones hit the airwaves, surprisingly, and I suppose fans will object me calling Emerald City one, but it really does feel like they were trying to go for Thrones in the confines of what network TV would allow. The only thing is although the level of sex and over the top violence in Thrones is unnecessary and exploitative and worthy of every criticism you want to throw at it, one reason why people like me complain is the show has such strong characters and plot and it doesn't need the nudity, explicit sex and graphic violence. Cut all that out and you'd still have a cohesive, appealing and successful story. Although Emerald City pushes the envelope (watch out for a brief but - for network TV - somewhat graphic moment of sexuality during West's intro scene in episode one, and the death of a key character early on is very bloody), the problem is it doesn't really have that strong of a story or characters to fall back on once the novelty of a modern-day Oz has worn off. And Dorothy in particular feels like she fades into the background (in the 1939 movie, the Wicked Witch was a scene stealer, but the focus was always on Judy Garland; here, there are times where Dorothy feels like just another member of an ensemble rather than the lead.) The miniseries Tin Man - which basically does the same thing in a more family friendly manner - is a much better version of the story with a more dominant portrayal of Dorothy. Interestingly it also attempts to give the WWW more depth, just as Emerald City, and I think it's ultimately more successful.

This title has:

Too much violence
Too much sex
1 person found this helpful.
age 12+

Emerald City Meets the 21st Century

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (6):
Kids say (1):

This reimagining of the classic Land of Oz stories clearly wants to be a network-TV Game of Thrones but doesn't reach the same storytelling heights. In fact, despite the stellar source material, Emerald City drags a bit rather than carrying viewers along on clouds of transfixed enchantment. On the plus side, Emerald City mines other Oz books, not only the original (and oft-adapted, frequently clumsily) Wonderful Wizard of Oz, for plot and characters -- a savvy move, since there's plenty of meat in Baum's other books. A few characters in Emerald City are imported from The Marvelous Land of Oz, a surprisingly feminist story in which a young boy is transformed into a girl who's the rightful ruler of Oz.

But nothing happens quickly, and most of the characters are rather unpleasant, leaving the viewer with no one to root for. Dorothy is a dull cipher, her Scarecrow-like companion a murderer, and the Wizard of Oz apparently deals in drugs and back-door politics. We knew to watch out for the Witch of the West (here a drug-addled sensualist scheming to increase her power), but in this adaptation, even Glinda has no joy for Dorothy. It's not that this series lacks for plot twists -- it's just that it's not a lot of fun. Considering how imaginative and entertaining Baum's novels were, that's a real crime.

TV Details

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