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Blu-ray Review

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Emerald City
Season One


Starring: Adria Arjona, Oliver Jackson-Cohen, Ana Ularu, Mido Hamada, Gerran Howell, Jordan Loughran, Joely Richardson and Vincent D'Onofrio
Distributor: Fabulous Films Ltd / Fremantle Media Enterprises


Certificate: 18
Release Date: 02 November 2020

Dorothy is a young woman who is finally reunited with her mother, only to find her dead. A huge twister is tearing-up Kansas City, and she finds herself caught up in it and transported to a strange land ruled by magic. She reluctantly teams-up with a warrior she names Lucas, who has lost his memory, and a German Shepherd police dog who was brought from Kansas in the storm. In order to return home, and for Lucas to regain his memory they travel to the City of Oz for council with the all-wise Wizard. However, when they are tortured on the way by a powerful witch, Dorothy manages to trick the witch into shooting herself, and from that moment on, she is a target. Not only does the Wizard want her, but so too do the sister witches. But there is unrest in Emerald City. A past disaster is prophesied to return, and a neighbouring kingdom has declared war on Oz. The wizard has outcast magic in favour of science, but he may need the help of magic to save his city from The Beast Forever. Furthermore, Dorothy could prove critical in his salvation. But can he be trusted...

Emerald City first aired in 2017, but it’s conception was three years earlier. The pilot script was written by Matthew Arnold, and promptly commissioned for a ten-episode season. Although Josh Friedman (Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles) was brought on as the showrunner, he quickly fell-out with the studio, causing the series to be cancelled. David Schulner was employed to replace Friedman, with Tarsem Singh directing all ten episodes. The series was cancelled after the first season. But was that decision justified? It is intriguing, and you don’t feel as if you’ve wasted your life watching it. However, it fails to reel you in and grip to the point that you can’t wait to see the next installment. It’s partly down to the concept. It’s the correct decision to abandon the admittedly brilliant but very fluffy 1939 film version in favour of something closer to L. Frank Baum’s harder-edged children’s Oz books. If anything, this isn’t gritty enough. There are a few shocks. But you don’t sympathise enough with the lead characters.

Adria Arjona is kind of okay as Dorothy, but doesn’t have enough charisma to carry the show as the lead protagonist. Again, Vincent D’Onofrio is fine as The Wizard, although he’s not compelling enough to be the ambiguous hero/villain of the piece. The strong roles are Oliver Jackson-Cohen as Lucas the swordsman, who portrays confident or lost with equal aplomb; Gerran Howell as Jack the part-human part-clockwork boy, who you believe and feel for in every relevant scene; and Rebeka Rea as the little girl witch Sylvie. A wonderful performance considering her age. There are radically different versions of The Scarecrow, who is Lucas (partly because of his loss of memory, and a greater connection near the end of the season), The Tinman who is Jack (he has metal parts and occasionally requires oiling), and The Lion, played by Mido Hamada, a less than cowardly soul. Quite the opposite, in fact. The whole has a kind of Gulliver’s Travels-like feel to it, rather than The Game of Thrones look it promises. However, I did enjoy the Victorian Cyberpunk aspect to parts of the show – particularly the repairs made to Jack, and the multiple masks of the queen he befriends.

It’s not fantastic but it is well worth checking out. Fans of The Wizard of Oz will be intrigued as to how the concept has been updated for the new age. We also get to see a brief backstory for The Wizard. It would be interesting to know what was planned for Season Two. We do know that it involves more prominently The Beast Forever. The epilogue scene for this season is slightly corny; perhaps it was tagged onto the end when the show was cancelled. Extras include: Deleted Scenes, and Oz Reimagined: The Making of Emerald City.


Ty Power

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