What a disaster.
I had such high hopes for Emerald City. I know it would be silly of me to expect Game of Thrones caliber fantasy, but network television has sometimes rivaled cable TV in recent years (have you seen the brilliance of American Crime?). Sadly, Emerald City is a mess in pretty much every single way.
The primary problem with this show is that everything feels half-baked. City assumes that you know everything about the mythology behind The Wizard of Oz, and uses that an excuse to dump a million random subplots in the least logical way possible. There’s no unified drive or coherent narrative, just dull exposition and nonsensical motivations. Doing so, it also wastes some tremendous performers. Vincent D’Onofrio was downright glorious on Daredevil, but he’s awkward here thanks to an underwritten character and cliche dialogue.
Some actors do manage to escape unscathed however. Adria Arjona is excellent as Dorothy, the story’s protagonist. She’s exactly the kind of actress you’d want in such a role – vulnerable yet strong when the moments calls for it. I can totally see her kicking ass for years on end and becoming a memorable TV heroine. Joely Richardson also turns in a terrific performance as Glinda the Witch of the North, while Ana Ularu is deliciously psychotic as The Witch of the West. In fact all three of these actresses deserve way better than this dreck.
The show’s saving grace? Director Tarsem Singh will be directing all ten episodes of the show’s debut season – a very rare occurrence on television (where every episode has a different director). This should supply the show with a consistent voice and look; sadly neither of these are well developed. The cinematography is admittedly impressive thanks to the international locations, but the show still relies on cheap CGI backgrounds that are far too distracting. It really prevents the show from crafting a genuine sense of place. A pity.
Perhaps I’ll watch another episode? Just to see if it can possibly get any worse.
It’s got some eye-catching visuals, but a lazy script means this show is not worth your time and probably not long for this world.