Saturday, January 14, 2017

Emerald City - The Beast Forever / Prison of the Abject

NBC's darker retelling of The Wizard of Oz opens as you would expect with Dorothy Gale (Adria Arjona) of Kansas being transported by a tornado to a strange land. Here's where things start to differ. Although magic exists in this version of Oz it has been outlawed by the Wizard of Oz (Vincent D'Onofrio). Witches still exist, including the one Dorothy crashes into (with her car rather than house). And although it takes Dorothy two tries, she does kill the Witch of the East (Florence Kasumba) and take her ruby... gloves? into her possession.

Not as whimsical as the classic film, Dorothy does run into a scarecrow of sorts in a crucified soldier (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) with memory problems (get it, he needs a brain!). Taking her stolen police dog and her scary new friend with her, Dorothy begins to follow the brick road (yellow from the pollen of poppies) in hopes of finding the one man who can send her home. Of course, the Wizard has his own problems holding his kingdom together, keeping magic outlawed, watching the other two witches carefully, and preparing for the prophesied return of "the beast forever."

The first two episodes are interesting, but the show has still yet to hook me in. Magic still feels oddly defined and it's unclear just how the Wizard was able to regulate it so easily. I'd also prefer the focus of the story to stay on our protagonist as we're learning far more about Oz than Dorothy is at this point. The second episode also introduces us to young Tip (Jordan Loughran) kept prisoner by an apothecary who seems to have had some very strange motivations given her treatment of the child. Dorothy and the scarecrow's, renamed Lucas after Dorothy's hometown, run-in with the woman ends badly for her and gets Tip free (although at a cost the character is not prepared to deal with).

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