Frank L. Baum’s creation of the land of Oz provided the world with a great work of fiction, in addition to having given rise to an iconic cinematic masterpiece. Since The Wizard of Oz’s 1939 release, there have been many more incarnations of the story, but none have even come close to matching the critical success of the Judy Garland classic (with Oz The Great and Powerful in 2013 making perhaps the most valiant attempt to recreate the magic).
NBC first unveiled its plan for a new Oz based TV drama, Emerald City, back in 2014, with the intent being to focus on a darker, more adult version of Oz, featuring Dorothy’s return to the land as an adult. However, the idea appeared to be scrapped before eventually being given a series order in April 2015. The series will feature David Schulner (Kings, Dracula) as showrunner, but now we know who will be calling the shots on the initial episodes, too.
Schulner announced via his Twitter that Emerald City has found its director, in the form of Tarsem Singh (also known professionally as Tarsem). The filmmaker behind The Fall, Immortals, and Self/Less (among other movies) will helm every episode of the drama for NBC.
Tarsem is a very practical director, preferring to use real stages and real effects as opposed to relying on digital tools and green screens, as attested by Immortals costar Stephen Dorff. Therefore, it will be interesting to see how he approaches Emerald City - a series that has been described before, as follows:
“Emerald City” follows 20-year-old Dorothy Gale and her K9 police dog who, after a tornado, are transported to another world far away — a mystical land of competing kingdoms, lethal warriors, dark magic and a bloody battle for supremacy. The series is a darker spin on “Oz” where wicked witches don’t stay dead for long and a young girl becomes a headstrong warrior who holds the fate of kingdoms in her hands.
Emerald City is set to draw inspiration from all of Baum’s 14 original Oz books in the series, which featured many more characters and lands than have previously been shown on screen. This could, in theory, give Tarsem and Schulner the potential to create something almost along the lines of Game of Thrones, where dark, brutal and sometimes terrifying storylines intertwine across various settings. Tarsem’s directing style could really lend itself to an elaborately magical setting for the show, either way.
The question remains whether Emerald City will be able to grab the public’s imagination. Certainly it sounds wildly different to The Wizard of Oz, meaning fans of the movie might not be overly happy with the treatment of their beloved characters. Still, Baum' Oz could often be a dark and menacing place (something the 1985 film Return to Oz captured on the big screen). Hollywood and Broadway have both put their own spins on 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow' (adding glitz, glamour, music and a family-friendly vibe), but it seems NBC want to take Oz back to its grass roots. Only time will tell if the public appreciates their efforts.
Emerald City is in development at NBC
Source: David Schulner