For many networks, the new year means a host of shows returning for a spring run after their midseason finales. For some, though, it can mean the debut of brand new shows. NBC is one such network which, after a year of negotiation over creative differences, has decided to take a chance on dark fantasy series Emerald City. The twisted take on L. Frank Baum’s Land of Oz books offers an entirely new perspective on the inventive world, one which culminates in an epic battle between science and magic.
Though fantasy series have done well in recent years thanks to smash hits like Game of Thrones, it can be hard to get such complex worlds to translate from page to screen. NBC hopes to draw in their preexisting fantasy fanbase by programming Emerald City immediately after Grimm, the final season of which kicks off this spring. The network is also introducing some compelling promotional materials, including a recent trailer, and, now, two fascinating featurettes.
The promotional videos mix clips from the show with actor and creator interviews, offering viewers a satisfying glimpse into the world of the upcoming series. The first video, “A New Kind of Dorothy”, relies on interviews with leads Adria Arjona (Dorothy) and Oliver Jackson-Cohen (The Scarecrow, a.k.a. Lucas) to explain the show’s new spin on the Dorothy character, including her romantic subplot with her scarecrow companion. The second video, “First Look (Sneak Peek)”, sheds further light on the show’s general premise, as well as some of its key characters and plotlines. Check out “A New Kind of Dorothy”, above, and “First Look”, below.
Though they share some of the same clips, both of these promos do offer an interesting look at the new series, most especially its breathtaking visuals. The cast and crew alike are sure to acknowledge director Tarsem Singh in their interviews for “First Look”, as Singh has blessed the show with his famously gorgeous shooting locations. From sloping cliffs to wintry badlands, the geography is a real star in these clips — not unlike how Game of Thrones expertly uses European landscapes for a fantastical feel. It’s also nice to get a few words from the show’s actors, from leading lady Arjona to Black Panther‘s Florence Kasumba.
One of the most interesting aspects of this show is how it bends and interprets the characters from its source material. Perhaps most highly anticipated are the three witches, West, East, and Glinda, whose magic puts them at odds with both the wizard and each other. Since The Wizard of Oz swiftly kills off its East, it’s especially cool to see that this character, who is integral to the novels, will get some more depth in this adaptation. It seems likely that the series will toy with Oz’s moralistic interpretations of “good,” and “bad,” which could really elevate the witches and make this must-watch television.
That all said, we still need to wait a few weeks to see whether Emerald City can be all it’s promised, or whether it will be another fantasy TV series that just can’t get a foothold. We certainly hope that the former outcome will occur, for NBC’s sake, as director Tarsem Singh is famous for choosing some seriously expensive locations.
Emerald City premieres on NBC at 8 p.m. EST on Jan. 6, 2017.