Thursday, January 12, 2017

Emerald City: "The Beast Forever"/"Prison of the Abject"

It was my plan to blog about every episode of the new TV series Emerald City every Saturday, after each new episode airs. But I was so tired last Friday night that I didn't even get a chance to watch, then got so busy over the weekend that I didn't get a chance to finish watching it. Only the horrible snow that's been piling up and keeping me from going to work, plus early morning insomnia, has even given me the time to finish watching it and blog about it now. I hope that this is a one-time delay, but I'm not counting on it.

I will admit to being a bit skeptical going in. Being advertised as The Wizard of Oz meets Game of Thrones does not bode well, because Oz is supposed to be a generally happy place, which I gather Westeros isn't (no, I don't watch Game of Thrones, primarily through lack of opportunity). It does not help that ads and other early publicity also make it look a lot like a warmed-over Tin Man doesn't help. Still, I liked Tin Man, even if it wasn't the Ozziest production ever, so I'm willing to give Emerald City a chance. And so far, I am guardedly optimistic. I think these first two episodes (and yes, this two-hour premiere was actually two episodes mashed together) are setting up a lot of stuff that will likely pay off down the road, but there's already a lot of intriguing stuff going on.

My first fear was that the opening scene showed baby Dorothy being delivered to the Gales meant that she was a kidnapped princess of Oz, which we've seen several times before (including Tin Man), but if her mother is still in Kansas, then maybe not—but then again, why focus on her real mother so much if it isn't going to pay off later? Now-grown-up Dorothy is a nurse in Lucas, Kansas (a real place) who ends up in a police car during a tornado, and the tornado whisks her and the K-9 dog to you-know-where and kills the Wicked Witch of the East. She and the dog, now protecting her, encounter the Munchkin tribe, whose leader, Ojo, wants to kill them, but he is overruled by the elders, and Dorothy and the newly named Toto ("toto" being the Munchkin word for dog) are exiled. They find the road to the Emerald City (yellow because it's covered with poppy pollen) to ask the Wizard to help them. Along the way, they find a horribly injured man with no memory. Dorothy, being a nurse, takes care of him as best she can, then brings him along in the hopes of finding more aid. He tricks her into giving him a name, and she calls him Lucas, because that's her home. They encounter a local apothecary, Mombi, who shelters them and gives Dorothy some compounds that Lucas needs to complete his treatment. Meanwhile, Mombi's ward, Tip, finally manages to run away (with Dorothy's help), and Tip and his friend Jack are now on their own. Without the drugs Mombi kept forcing upon him, however, something very strange happens to Tip. (If you know the Oz books, I'm pretty sure you can guess what that is.)

Meanwhile, in the Emerald City, the Wizard keeps throwing his weight around. Having already banned the use of magic, he does allow the two remaining cardinal witches—Glinda, of the North, and of the west—access to their temple so that they can sing their sister from the east to her afterlife. (There are indications that there was once a witch of the south, but that she's already gone, too.) Why Emerald City continues the Movie-inspired tropes that the witches are sisters, and that Glinda is the witch of the north, is beyond me. Anyway, one condition that the Wizard makes is that the funeral be open to the public, so that the people can see just what the witches are capable of. The Wizard, it seems, rules by science, and doesn't want the competition. But stuff happens, and it may not be that easy.

So, it's a start. I am at least enjoying all the little references to all kinds of Oz things, and I am intrigued to see how it is all going to pay off later. And we still have the Tin Woodman or the Cowardly Lion to look forward to. So I am going to reserve final judgement until I've seen the entire series. But I doubt this is something I will return to very often, as it's not the real Oz&mdast;but it's not trying to be, either.

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